Pear Panini on Sourdough

Last winter, I decided I was going to try my hand at making sourdough bread from scratch. I read all about it, diligently fed my starter as often as my book said to and got a pretty active starter going. I made bread fairly regularly over the winter. But when summer rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was turn my oven on for an hour since it tends to heat the rest of my house up pretty fast. 

As a result, my sourdough starter sat in the back of my fridge, forgotten for quite some time. I tried reviving it with several “feedings,” but never quite got it back to its former glory. I decided it was time to give up sourdough making altogether, so I dumped my starter. Then a few weeks later, the weather cooled down again and I was craving bread. I made a recipe I used to enjoy for yeast bread, but after being used to the flavor of sourdough, the taste of the white bread fell flat. I knew I needed to get back into making good sourdough again, but I definitely didn’t want to start from the beginning all over. 

Thankfully I have friends who regularly bake sourdough bread and one friend was more than willing to give me some starter to get things going again! 

I’ve tried quite a few recipes and methods and think I’ve finally found one that works well from the book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. The recipes in that book start with the more simple yeast only recipes, to hybrid (yeast and sourdough or levain recipes) and finally to levain only recipes. I’ve had good success following their recipe for Pain de Campagne (country loaf) and also by adding 225 grams of sourdough starter to their recipe for white bread with poolish. I can’t post the exact recipe here, but you can check the book out of the library or find a copy online. I always bake my bread in a pre-heated Dutch oven at 475 for 30 minutes with the lid on and 15 minutes with the lid off, which yields a very delicious crunchy crust. If you’re a visual learner, you might want to try Tess Weaver’s online course for Sourdough at Home. Her bread always looks amazing!

Once my bread was ready to serve, I sliced it and made it into this tasty Pear Grilled Cheese sandwich. My ingredients were simple: good, freshly baked sourdough bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced pears and caramelized onions. If you have a panini maker that will make for a crispy grilled cheese panini, but if not, a frying pan will work just fine! 

A key to success for a good recipes is quality ingredients, so I highly recommend starting with a good loaf of bread, whether you bake it yourself of buy it from our market. In addition, we have many kinds of pears to choose from in our farm market that will make this panini amazing! I just made mine a vegetarian version, but you could also add meat like ham or prosciutto. 


Pear Panini on Sourdough

  • Author: Rachel VanDuzer



  • 2 slices of good bread
  • 2 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 slices ham (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp caramelized onions (sauté in the same pan in olive oil or butter)
  • 5 slices in-season pear
  • Butter


Butter the bread. Add bread to a sauté pan on medium heat, then place a piece of cheese on each side of the bread, then add the ham if desired, caramelized onions and pears. When the cheese has begun to melt, assemble the sandwich together and press down with a spatula. Flip the sandwich to ensure that both sides get golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

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