The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

buckwheat groats

dabrownman's picture

Today we had a wonderful breakfast and lunch thanks to sweetbird's fine bread that had pistachios and soba noodles added to it by a 'butcher' or as Varda says a 'postmodernist'.  When toasted, this bread, like most, takes on a new life that is hearty and modern too.

As a classic smoked salmon, grilled chicken, tomato and basil feta cheese, lettuce and mushroom masterpiece - rarely attempted by the most professional sandwich artisan, this bread comes into its own saying 'You Know I Ain't No Slimy White Slice Sweetbird'

The original blog is here aand where you find the link to sweetbird's fine recipe on her blog :

With some fresh pineapple, strawberry, bread and butter, kosher dill and Serrano pickles, a slice of brie and some corn chips with jicama and corn salsa - this lunch is terrific on any spring day that nears 100 F in the shade.


sweetbird's picture

I was starting to feel morose as I watched my last bread,, dwindle down to nothing, so I knew I had to make another one right away. I adore that bread! I thought it would be fun to try a Buckwheat-Pear variation, and since I needed to pick up some more hard cider, I decided to see if the Woodchuck company in Vermont made a pear hard cider. I was delighted to see that they do. (And not only that, but they also make a raspberry hard cider -!!- so I may be dreaming up some way to try that out.)

I also picked up some organic dried pears, then started my liquid levain that night and baked the next day. I used the same local raspberry honey as I had done in the Buckwheat-Apple loaf.


I followed the same formula, simply substituting the pear hard cider for the apple hard cider and the dried pears for the dried apples. The only thing I changed was to make sure to dice the pears into smaller pieces, as they seemed to have more heft to them than the apples, and I thought large peices might be hard to chew.


Also, I used KA bread flour, which I had neglected to do the last time, and it gave the dough and the final loaf more integrity. Since buckwheat is a very weak flour it needs a boost from stronger flour; the vital wheat gluten is added to this formula for the same reason.

I had an appreciative audience while I worked, my sidekick Bigwig:

The house was filled with the same deeply wonderful aroma of roasting buckwheat when the bread was baking, and the loaf came out looking exactly the same as the other one, not surprisingly. I could hardly wait for it to cool so I could see what the difference would be in the flavor.

As it turned out, the differences were subtle, but definitely noticeable. The pear bread has a more delicate flavor, and slightly more natural sweetness. It's hard to pick a favorite -- I love them both -- but I would probably give the grand prize to the Buckwheat-Apple and the runner-up with honors to the Buckwheat-Pear. Either one is well worth having around, and the toast is a very, very, very special treat.

I'll submit this to Susan's yeastspotting:

Happy baking to all,




sweetbird's picture

While reading the article in New York Magazine on artisinal bakers in New York City that I posted in the forums yesterday (, I saw the photo of a buckwheat-pear bread and was reminded of this one that has become a favorite in our house. It's a buckwheat-apple bread dreamed up by a Swiss baker/blogger and posted on yeastspotting a few years ago. The blog post was so charming that I had to try it immediately. I have loved it and baked it many times since.

Here is the original blog post that captured my imagination:

I've made some minor changes based on what I have available. Here is the formula that I use:

Buckwheat Apple Sourdough


Liquid levain:
100 g buckwheat flour
125 ml hard cider
15 g mature starter (mine was 100% hydration)

385 g bread flour
15 g vital wheat gluten
230 ml hard cider (start with 200 ml and add more cider as required)
12 g salt
a little less than 1 tsp. instant yeast (I used SAF)
1 tsp. pear honey ("Birnel"), can be substituted by any sweetener
40 g dried apple rings, chopped
85 g (½ cup) whole buckwheat groats


Mix the ingredients for the liquid levain and leave at room temperature for 12 hours.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the whole buckwheat and let it soak for 10 - 15 minutes, until cooked through.  Drain well and set aside.

Mix the liquid levain, flour, vital wheat gluten and cider and let it autolyse for 15 to 30 minutes. Check the consistency and adjust as necessary; you’re looking for a tacky but not sticky dough.

Mix the final dough, but don’t add the apple chunks and the buckwheat yet. I processed for about 6 - 7 minutes on medium speed in my KitchenAid. At the end, mix in the apple pieces and about 2/3 of the soaked buckwheat groats. The rest are reserved for the top of the loaf, if you like (if not, go ahead and add them all to the dough).

Let the dough ferment in a warm environment (I kept it at a temperature in the mid-80sF) for about 1½ to 2 hours, with two folds at 30 and 60 minutes. The original recipe calls for one fold at 40 minutes, but I thought my dough needed more. I let it ferment about 2 hours.

This dough weighs about 1,050 g, and I bake it as one large hearth loaf. It can be divided into two smaller boules if you like. Bench rest and shape, and start your oven and stone preheating to 430°F at this point. I found that the final rise was fairly quick -- about 40 minutes. In fact, it took me by surprise and my oven wasn’t quite ready, so I ended up over-proofing slightly.

I used the dough ball trick that I mentioned in my previous post.


Bake the loaves on a preheated baking stone with steam at 430°F, checking and turning at around 20 minutes and lowering the temperature if the loaves are taking on too much color. I turned off the oven when the loaf reached an internal temperature of 205°F and let it sit on the hot stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.


Ingredient notes:

I use a wonderful hard cider from my part of the world, the northeast U.S.  It's Woodchuck Hard Cider from Vermont and comes in a 355 ml bottle, which is just exactly the amount that is needed for this bread. About one-third goes into the levain and the rest is used in the dough. I use it at room temperature.

The flour I used in this loaf (besides the buckwheat flour) was King Arthur AP, even though the formula calls for bread flour. I would have been better off using the Sir Lancelot I had, or something else to offset the weak buckwheat flour, but even so this came out very well.

I use a raspberry honey from a local beekeper instead of the pear honey in the original formula.

This bread has a deep, somewhat nutty and subtly sweet flavor. It is outstanding as toast. I tried to capture the extra depth of color that it has when it comes out of the toaster. It's spectacular with butter and marmalade or with cheeses. I encourage you to try it! Thank you to the sweet baker from Switzerland (who doesn't seem to be blogging any longer, sadly). I'm grateful for this very special bread.


All the best,


I'll send this back where it started from, to Susan's yeastspotting:


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