The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


PiPs's picture

It is 4:45am on a quiet and cool Sunday morning.  I am taking my time … a cup of tea while listening to the birds. I can smell mangos on the table next to me.

Nat and I packed a lot of effort into yesterday. The yard work is done, and in between all the mowing and trimming necessary after summer rain I managed to put a few loaves of bread through the oven.

Have you ever stopped to think about a grain of wheat? I am slowly learning the scientific terms and descriptions … but my brain is not really wired that way. What I am slowly starting to appreciate is that these little grains are really packets of life. I don’t stop and take the time to think about this enough. They hold all that is required to germinate … just needed is the right balance of moisture and warmth.

For the baking this weekend I wanted to take a step beyond sprouting into the world of malting. During the week I sprouted wheat, rye and barley grains. After drying (kilning), I gently roasted the grains in search of flavour and colouring, not diastatic power or enzyme content. The house smelt amazing during this process …

… I now wanted to try them freshly milled in bread … and it turned out Nat’s parents were staying with us – to offer them bread is the perfect excuse to bake.

I decided upon the sourdough formula from Richard Bertinets book Crust. This formula was probably the first I knew off the top of my head. I have made it so many times in all sorts of weather with every flour combination imaginable. It is a 75% hydration dough with 25% of the total flour being pre-fermented in a stiff levain. With this amount of pre-fermented flour you need to pay attention to the ripeness of the levain builds as they have a big impact on the final dough.

Included in this I combined roasted wheat and barley malt flour at 5% of the total flour. I have been racking my thoughts on a way to best describe the aroma and taste of the roasted malt flours. I can’t. There is malt flavour in the roasted barley but also stronger rich dark toasted overtones, especially when combined with the malted wheat.

The difference was apparent as soon as I combined the ingredients. You could smell the malted flours and see them streaked throughout the autolysing dough.

On Saturday morning I took the risen bread from the fridge and allowed it to come to room temperature before filling the waking house with the aromas of fresh bread.

In the end I think the roasted malt flours did more for the colouring than flavour. The blistered crust is packed with colour and caramelized flavour while the crumb is a little darker but I find it hard to pick a noticeable difference in the overall flavour. I thought this strange after the difference I had sensed in the mixing stages but with a crumb so soft that we struggled to cut it without serious squashing and squeezing – it was deemed a delicious success.


Sunflower and Sesame wholesome wholemeal

I have noticed how much I missed using the mill after last weeks bake of ciabattas and brioche. I somehow felt disconnected from the bread I was making. It all tasted great but it wasn’t ‘wriggling with life’. I missed the planning and preparation, the smell of freshly milled grains … oh and the eventual endless cleaning I seemingly produced. The vacuum and I are getting very well acquainted.

I pictured bread with freshly milled grains and roasted malt flour packed with seeds. Instead of an endless variety of seeds I paired two - sesame and sunflower. The aromas of these lightly toasted seeds complimented the roasted malt wheat flour bringing a richness and depth to this wholesome bread.





Total dough weight (minus mix-ins)



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Prefermented flour



Desired dough temperature 24°C






Levain build – 8 hrs 18-20°C



Starter (not included in final dough)



Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)









Final dough






Freshly milled wheat flour (Four Leaf biodynamic grains)



Roasted malted wheat flour












Sesame seeds lightly toasted



Sunflower seeds lightly toasted



+ Sunflower seeds for coating





  1. Autolyse flour and for one hour. (hold back 50 grams of water)
  2. Meanwhile lightly toast sunflower and sesame seeds until golden and allow to cool.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Gently mix in seeds until combined.
  5. Bulk ferment two hours with one stretch-and-fold after the first hour.
  6. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape. Spray the outside lightly with water and roll in untoasted sunflower seeds.
  7. Final proof was one hour at room temperature (25°).
  8. Bake in dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 10 mins at 200°C. Remove loaf from dutch oven and bake a further 20 mins at 200°C.



After a day of mowing and raking, it was magic to stop and savor a slice of this while still warm. To top it off ­– a scraping butter. Sigh …

The Four Leaf milling grains lend their typical golden hue to a soft crumb packed with seeds. The sesame is subtle and appears in the background on occasions to remind you of their presence while sunflower seeds are the champions – from the tender bite in the crumb to the roasted crunch on the crust to the final enjoyment of picking at fallen seeds on the plate.

All the best,

ilan's picture

My path of research in bread making led me another step. This week I made yet another sandwich-bread and added different stuff into it.

I saw that in the several recipes most of the liquid in such bread consist of milk. It should make the bread richer in flavor as milk in oppose to water have a taste and in addition it contain some percent of fat.

All is good and well in theory. I already baked bread with water and bread with milk.

This time, I made two batches of the same recipe but in the second I replaced 2/3 of the liquid with milk.

Both bread looked almost the same. If there was any visual difference I failed to see it.

The crust on the milk bread was softer while the one with water was crunchier. There is a meaningful difference… I like both.

Another thing I wanted was thinner crust. So instead of baking at high temp with steam for 15 minutes (as I done in my previous bread) I reduce the time to 10 minute. The crust was good but thinner.

 To enrich the bread I added Pecans and Pumpkin seeds to the dough and sprinkled the top of the bread with Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds.

I didn’t use any preferment here, It was aimed to be a quick bread making. So, I used 3 teaspoons of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar. This reduced raise time to 1 hour + 1 hour. I must try this same bread with the longer method to check the flavor difference. But this will be my project for next week J

I didn’t punch down the dough after the first rise. I just roll it out of the bowl and formed it. It looses enough air in any case.

Additional thing I tried with both loaves was to score them right after I formed them into loaves. This is because when I try to score the bread right before baking, it loose height. I should look for a razor blade as my knives (sharp as they are – 8” knife is too big) are not good enough for this job.

The Dough:

-       3 1/4 cups flour

-       3 teaspoons yeast

-       1 teaspoon sugar

-       1 ½ cup of water (replace 1 cup of water with milk)

-       1 ¾ teaspoon of salt

-       ½ cup of chopped Pecans

-       ¼ cup of Pumpkin seeds

-       ½ egg

-       ½ egg for glazing

-       Sunflower seeds for topping

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.

Form into a loaf and let rise for another hour.

Bake in high temperature with steam for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat (180-170c) and bake for another 40 minutes.

Until the next post




gaaarp's picture

Five-Grain Seeded Sourdough Bread Recipe

January 21, 2009 - 7:41pm -- gaaarp

I have been tinkering with PR's Basic Sourdough Bread recipe for a while and have come up with the following recipe, which I really enjoy baking and eating:

Five-Grain Seeded Sourdough

 Five-Grain Seeded Sourdough Bread

 (based on Peter Reinhart's Basic Sourdough Bread, The Bread Baker's Apprentice)


Firm Starter

LindyD's picture

My daughter’s birthday is this week and as she loves hearty, artisan breads, I decided to bake Jeffrey Hamelman’s sourdough seed bread instead of a cake.  

I used King Arthur bread flour and Arrowhead Organic rye.  The seeds were purchased from an organic food coop.  The recipe was tweaked a bit.

Day one (of three): Assemble the liquid levain, soak the flax seeds, and toast the sunflower and sesame seeds:

Liquid levain: 
4.8 oz. bread flour
6 oz. water
1 oz. mature culture

The recipe calls for a liquid culture.  I opted to try one ounce of my stiff sourdough culture straight from the refrigerator [it had been refreshed the day before] as an experiment.

Mix the levain and allow it to stand (covered, at 70F) for 12 to 16 hours.  The photo shows my levain about two hours after it had been mixed.

Flax seed soaker:   
2.2 oz. flax seeds
6.7 oz. cold water

After you’ve mixed the levain, place 2.2 oz. flax seeds in a container and gently add  6.7 oz. cold water.  Cover and let stand for 12 to 16 hours.   As the flax seeds absorb the water, the mixture will appear gelatinous.

Toast the sunflower and sesame seeds:
3.8 oz. sunflower seeds (shelled)
1.9 oz sesame seeds

The sunflower seeds were toasted on a cookie sheet in a 325F oven for about 20 minutes (stirred occasionally) until browned.  The sesame seeds were browned in a cast iron pan over direct flame.  Stir constantly or they’ll pop out of the pan all over your stove top.

The toasted  seeds were mixed together (smelling oh, so heavenly), moved to a glass bowl, then covered and allowed to rest overnight so the nutty flavors could meld.  

Day two:  Mixing, fermentation, shape, and retard:
1 lb. 8.6 oz. bread flour
2.6 oz whole rye flour
11.3 oz. water.  
.7 oz salt (1 T plus ½ tsp)
All (8.9 oz) of the flax seed soaker
All (5.7 oz) of the toasted sunflower and sesame seeds
10.8 oz. liquid levain (all of the liquid levain except for 2T [1 oz]) (I added all 10.9 oz.)

The desired dough temperature is 76F (see note at the end of this text).

All of the ingredients were added to my KA spiral mixer.  Hamelman instructs to mix at first speed for three minutes, then at second speed for another three minutes.  I think Bread was written primarily for professional bakers and that those mixing instructions are for a heavy duty commercial mixer, so I don’t follow them.

I used the first speed only long enough to make sure the levain, water, salt, flour, and seeds were well mixed, then let the dough autolyse for 20 minutes.  After the autolyse, the dough was moved to my counter top where I stretched and folded until it felt supple.

Bulk fermentation is 2.5 hours.  The dough next was placed in a bowl for the bulk fermentation.  I folded it twice at 50-minute intervals.

I retarded the bread on a full sheet of parchment placed on a three-sided cookie sheet.  These three loaves were placed in a large food-grade plastic bag and moved to the refrigerator. The recipe calls for two large loaves, but I prefer three smaller loaves.

Final fermentation: The final fermentation can be up to 18 hours at 42F.

Day three: Bake and cool.

These loaves rose nicely during the final fermentation and even while unbaked, the perfume of the toasted seeds was quite wonderful.

The retarded breads had about an hour’s warm-up time while the oven was preheated to 460F.  They were scored and moved to the hot oven stone, then half a cup of hot water was dumped in the broiler pan under the stone.  Total bake time was 45 minutes.

The fragrance of the cooling bread was awesome.

I’ll give myself a “D” for scoring, but at least it’s a small improvement.

I waited 24 hours before slicing the bread, to allow the flavors to combine and mature.  The mix of the sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds, combined with the caramelized crust, provides a burst of flavor that borders on smokiness.  I loved the taste, fragrance, and texture of this bread.

A different take on crumb:  The kids and grandkids claim that too many holes means there’s too little bread, so they call it diet bread.  This should make them all happy.

If you enjoy an aromatic hearty bread, I’d encourage you to try Hamelman’s SD seed bread.  It's delicious toasted for breakfast, or with a bit of unsalted butter with a salad.  Or even plain!

Now, about desired dough temperature.  If you have Hamelman’s Bread, you’ll have read pages 382-385.  If you’re not familiar with the term, it is a formula used to determine the correct temperature of the water to be added to your flour and other ingredients.  It makes a difference in the quality of your bread.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I direct you to WildYeast's blog where she so masterfully covers the subject and even provides a free downloadable calculator.  (Thank you, Susan!).

pmccool's picture

My wife recently picked up a copy of Leader's Local Breads, and I am part way through reading it.  I needed to bake this weekend, so thought that I would try a formula from the book.  Based on what I had available, I opted for the Pain au Levain, using my existing sourdough starter to prepare the levain for the formula.  I also chose to add sunflower seeds to the bread, following one of Mr. Leader's options.

It was enjoyable to work with a mostly-white bread dough again.  Much of my recent baking has been predominantly whole-grain breads (not counting RLB's focaccia that factored out at 113% hydration!), which tend to have somewhat heavier and stickier doughs.  This formula calls for small quantities of both whole wheat and rye flours, but they are fairly low percentages of the total flour content.

Here's the finished bread:

Pain au Levain batards 

And a shot of the crumb:

Pain au Levain crumb 

As you can see, there was plenty of oven-spring.  The dough was a little bit short of being completely proofed.  I may have been able to let it proof a little longer than I did, but I'm happy with the outcome.  The flavor is surprisingly (to me) mild; the wheat flavor comes through cleanly, along with the nutty sweetness of the sunflower seeds.  The last couple of sourdoughs that I have made had a high whole wheat content and a pronounced sourdough tang.  Other conditions were essentially the same, so it appears that the flour has an influence on the degree of sourness.

This is a very enjoyable bread.  I hope that others in the book are equally good.


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