The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

XX – No Knead to Worry About It : Seeded Swiss Bernese Oberland Sourdough with White Levain….and a happy discovery

lumos's picture

XX – No Knead to Worry About It : Seeded Swiss Bernese Oberland Sourdough with White Levain….and a happy discovery

 It wasn’t meant to do like that.  I fed my starter the first thing in the morning, hoping it’d be ready for the second feed sometime in early afternoon, which would be ready to be used by early evening, as usual. Then I would prepare the dough, bulk ferment with a few S & F, shape it and put in the banettons and proof overnight in the fridge, so that I could bake it the next day. That was my plan, anyway…..

 But it was unexpectedly and unbelievably cold for early October on Saturday, even for English standard.  It was almost 11:00 pm when the starter at last looked just bout ripe enough to be used.  Just.   I would’ve stayed for 2 – 3 hrs or so normally to complete the routine of mix – autolyse – a few sessions of S & F before I put the dough in the fridge for overnight cold retard, but it was a very busy day and I was soooooo tired I could collapse onto a bed (or any horizontal surface, soft or hard) at any minute.  

 So, I put all the ingredients, except for the salt in the bowl, mixed them quickly, did the quickest S & F in the human history just to make the dough 'look' sort of even and smooth(-ish),  put the whole thing in the fridge,  and went to bed with my fingers and toes and every crossable thing crossed,  hoping it’d be alright, dreading how the dough would be like the next morning.

 The next morning……  I took the bowl out of the fridge, removed a cover to have a look with some trepidation. But what I found inside the bowl was a smooth ball of dough, slightly grown in size than when I left it the previous night.  When I pushed the surface, it felt nicely supple  with quite assuring strength. I did a quick window-pane test and was happily surprised it had a good gluten development, just  shy of full development.  So relieved and rather chuffed that I managed to get to that stage just by leaving it overnight, I left it for an hour or so to bring it back to room temperature,  and did a couple of S & F over 3 hrs to finish the bulk fermentation.  And another delight I found, during those S & F, was that the seeds were so well blended in and gripped by the dough, they didn’t escape and fall off from the dough (like they’d usually do) while I was stretching and folding.  So much easier to handle without loosing some seeds than my usual method. 

 I’ve done Jim Lahey’s no-kneed method but only with quite high-hydration as he suggests.  This one was more normal 70-ish% hydration and was only overnight, so it didn’t quite achieve a complete no-knead effect. But it was good enough for me. It made my life much easier with much less handling of dough with as good result as I can usually get.

  So from now on, this is going to be my method of making seeded dough.  Just mix it, put in the fridge and forget about it for 8 -12 hrs! The rest of the procedure will be much easier than usual, too!


   Note :   For this seeded bread, I used my sourdough interpretation of Heinz’s Swiss bread as the base dough, but with white levain instead of 50/50 = white/ww levain. Also all the white flour used in main dough is strong flour, instead of the mix of strong and plain in my original formula, so that the dough has strength enough to support the seeds.



 Seeded Swiss Bernese Oberland Sourdough with White Levain


    Ingredients : (makes one medium loaf. Dough weight around 770g)

   Sourdough (75% hydration)   120g 

        Feed a small amount of starter twice during 8-12 hr period before use with strong flour  (strong 60g + spelt 10g + water 50g = 120g)


    Mixed Seeds*    100g   

    Water   50g

       Soak the seeds in the water for a few hours. 

         * I used pre-mixed seeds from Waitrose  which contains  Sunflower seeds (57%), pumpkin seeds (17%), golden linseed (10%), hemp seeds (8%), sesame seeds (8%).  - The photo below.


   Main Dough

      Strong/bread  flour   180g

      Stoneground WW  flour     80g

      Stoneground whole greain rye flour     40g

      Wheatgerm     1 tbls

      Soaker (all of above)

      Water     200g

      Salt   6g



1.   Feed S/D twice during 8-12 hr period before you start making the bread.

2.   Mix all the flours, wheatgerm, soaker in a large bowl.

3.   In a separate small bowl, mix S/D and water to loosen S/D a little.

4.   Pour S/D+water to the bowl of flours and mix briefly into shaggy mess.  Stretch and fold in the bowl briefly.  Cover and put in the fridge and long-autolyse overnight. Have a good night sleep. No need to worry. :p

5.   Next morning, take the dough out of the fridge and leave for 1 hr.

6.  Sprinkle salt on the surface of the dough and S & F vigorously in the bowl until salt is evenly distributed. Cover and Leave another 45-50 minutes.

7.   Two more sets of S & F in the bowl every 45 - 50 minutes.

8.   Pre-shape and rest for 20 minutes.

9.  Shape and put in a bannetton and proof at room temperature.  (You can cold retard for 6-10 hrs if you like, too.) 

10.   Bake in a pre-heated covered pot at 240 C for 20 minutes.

11.  After 20 minutes, remove the lid, lower the temperature and bake for another 20-25 minutes.





 Must say nutty kick of seeds did work very well with Swill BO sourdough, too.  Throughly recommend this.




Janetcook's picture


I made the same discovery about an impromptu bake that you have this week too....I was planning on making a rustic sourdough - a formula of David S's which required a chilled dough left overnight in the refrig. after it's mix......Well, I came down with an annoying stomach bug which threw a wrench into my well laid plan....dough went into the refrig. way ahead of time but emerged the following day as a beautiful, supple ball of dough - not  over fermented  as I had feared due to the whole grains I used in it....I continued on with the tending of it still not knowing if the sour would be too sour for my family or not.....

Long story turned into one of the best loaves I have made!  And it's simplicity is nothing but pure bliss to work with.

Today I am doing it the way it was 'supposed' to be done to see how the results differ...

I like your loaf too so will have to put it on my 'to bake' list - I especially like that it incorporates seeds in a very simple fashion.....I have been looking for such a formula and yours just might be it!

Thanks for the post, loaf and mostly for the story....a great bread story as I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of excellent loaves are a result of serendipity...... 

Take Care,


lumos's picture

Thank you, Janet.

Hope you'll be successful with this easy method in making seeded bread, too. Look forward to hearing about how you got on. ;)


Janetcook's picture

Me Again,

I am planning on giving this a go tomorrow.

A question about the salt addition.  In your write up of how you ended up mixing the dough it appears as though the salt was included in the overnight bulk - am I correct here?

Reading in you specific mixing directions you then state  that salt should be added to the final dough the following morning....

So I am a bit confused about when to add salt but am thinking in the evening as it will be a lot easier to mix it in....



lumos's picture

Sorry for the confusion.  It's my mistake. What I wrote in 'Method' is right. I didn't add salt before the bulk fementation. I edited the part.  Thanks for pointing out, otherwise I wouldn't have noticed it.

Look forward to hearing your result. Hope you'll like it. :)


PiPs's picture

Looks fab Lumos,

I do like happy discoveries ... much nicer to eat than unhappy discoveries :) ... How did you find the taste?

I seem to prefer the taste of room/warm temperature proofed breads if I can wrangle the times right. 

I find the sourdough process so forgiving sometimes ... especially in cooler conditions. Things are starting to warm up here (downunder), and we haven't even hit summer yet ... gonna be interesting.

Cheers, Phil

lumos's picture

Hi, Phil. Thanks!

LOL  This world would be a boring place if we don't have discoveries, even if it's not too happy ones.....unless it's not tragically unhappy. :p

The taste?  Not overly wholegrain-ly, but has good body to it, with very subtle acidity from rye.  It's a touch lighter than the original Swiss BO sourdough because of 100% white levain instead of 50/50 =white/ww levain in the original,  but because of the lightness,  I think,  it brought out the flavours of seeds better, but the flavour of itself is rich enough that it didn't end up as a mere canvas for the seeds. For this particular loaf in the picture, I proofed at room temperature which took about 4-5 hrs or so, but if I'd proofed longer in the fridge, I suspect it would have increased acidity a little.

You can read about the flavour-profile of the original Swiss BO here where I'm explaining about it to a few people who asked......which may lead you to wonder what the ****  'faux-Poilane'  is, which I was using as a benchmark of flavour in comparison.  So you may want to read this, so that the whole conversation makes a better sense.  Just in case you want to know about Heinz's beautiful loaf on which I based my formula,  that's here you want to visit........Starting to feel like you got stuck in a long-winding maze?  Welcome to my blog!  :p

best wishes,





varda's picture

Hey Lumos,  In reading through your post, it looks like you simply delayed (or perhaps I should say retarded) your bulk ferment overnight by refrigerating, since the next morning you went on with three hours of BF with a couple of stretch and folds.   Am I missing something?   With the Jim Lahey no-knead method (which is what I used when I started baking bread) you leave the mixed dough on the counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight or longer (up to 18 hours) and then dump into a preheated DO and bake.   No stretch and folds, no refrigeration, no shaping, in fact, no nothing.   And the bread comes out sort of blob-like but actually can be really good from a taste and crumb perspective.   End of editorial remarks.   Your bread looks delicious as always!  -Varda

lumos's picture

Hi, Varda.

Sorry, it's my way of writing might've caused confusion.  I did bake no-knead bread a la  Jim Lahey a few times and also have his book as well.  So  I know the difference between his method and mine with this bread,  I only mentioned Jim Lahey's no-knead because just mixing it and leaving for overnight did develop almost sufficient gluten strength.   That was the only similarlity I meant to refer, but perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned him.  sorry....

The gluten development after overnight 'retard' was almost sufficient, but not enough quite enough. That's why I did a couple of S & F next morning just to ensure gluten is developed enough (especially because it had to support the weight of seeds) and also to finish off the bulk fermentation that had been already underway but not quite completed.  What I wanted to stress was that with seeded bread, I always find mixing in seeds cumbersome  at the earlier stage of  mixing/kneading/S & F because some seeds seem to escape from the dough and also the seeds seem to cut through some gluten strands, making developing gluten strenght slightly more difficult than dough without filling.   But  just leaving the dough for a long time after mixing  seemed to have solved both problems, without me doing anything while it's happening.  That's all I wanted to say.


varda's picture

I can see I was being too pedantic.   Sorry.   It's now clear to me what you are saying.   And a happy discovery for baking with seeds.  -Varda

lumos's picture

Anything that makes your life easy is good.  Especially that's something to do with baking.  :)

dmsnyder's picture

It's amazing what flour and water and time can do all by themselves, isn't it?


lumos's picture

Thank you, David. :)

Exactly!  When I found how good the condition of dough was in the morning, I was really happy, but also did seriously wondered what all those tedious procedure I'd been doing before to mix in seeds were all about;  chasing the escaped ones and cleaning up the spilled one on the worktop afterwards.  No need for that, anymore! :)