The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Seeded Naturally Leavened Sandwich Bread

breaducation's picture

Seeded Naturally Leavened Sandwich Bread

Seeded Sandwich Bread Loaf Crumb

      I'm on a mission to not buy anymore bread. Sure, I'll still buy loaves from bakeries that I respect or that have an interesting loaf I want to try but when it comes to my daily sandwich loaves I've decided to make them myself from here on out. Why did I decide this? For one thing, I know how to make bread and I like doing it so it'd be kind of dumb not to. But the real reason stems from a recent visit to the local health food supermarket. While browsing the aisles, I decided to take a look at some sandwich breads and find out what they're made of. I expected the loaves at this store to contain whole ingredients with no added chemicals considering this was a health food store. For the most part the loaves had decent ingredients but I was surprised to find that almost every single sandwich loaf contained added gluten. I was a bit disappointed. I'm definitely not one to jump on the "gluten is evil" bandwagon, in fact I love gluten, but could the fact that we're pumping pure gluten into supposedly healthy loaves of bread have something to do with the rise in people who can't seem to tolerate it? I don't really have the answer to that question(and it doesn't seem like food scientists do either yet) but I do think I could do better than these supermarket breads from both a health and flavor standpoint.

     My goal is to make great tasting sandwich breads that are healthy and last a long time. I will try to document many of them here.

Seeded Sourdough Sandwich Bread Loaf

   The first loaf I've made in this endeavor is a naturally leavened 75% whole wheat sandwich loaf packed with seeds. If my goals are to have a tasty, healthy and long lasting loaf then I think I've definitely found it with this bread.

Flavor & Texture

The combination of toasted sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, millet, amaranth and flax seeds is insanely delicious. Honestly, it kind of blew me away. It has a perfect nuttiness that makes me want to eat endless slices of this bread on its own with nothing on it. The grocery store loaves this loaf is replacing cannot compete. The 75% whole wheat adds a nice robustness while still allowing for a nice open and soft texture.


I recently read the bread chapter in Michael Pollan's new and highly fascinating book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, which I highly recommend reading as it was super informative about wheat, milling and the health properties of bread, and two things really stuck out in my mind regarding health. One, is that the way in which grain is milled has a substantial effect on the level of nutrition it contains. For example, the industrial method of milling uses roller mills and first separates the germ and bran(the healthiest parts of wheat) from the endosperm. This creates white flour. So when a big flour company wants to make whole wheat flour it must first make white flour and then add the germ and the bran back to the white. Apparently, many of the nutrients available in the wheat kernel are lost in this process. Traditional stone milling keeps the bran, germ and endosperm together at all stages of the milling process and preserves the entire nutritional spectrum of the wheat. Who knows what method of milling created the flour in the super market loaves!

Seeded Sourdough Sandwich Bread Loaf

Another thing that Pollan explains very well in his book is that whole wheat breads are made significantly more nutritious when used in combination with a sourdough culture. This is because the sourdough breaks down enzymes in the wheat that inhibit nutrient absorption in your body. The sourdough almost pre-digests the grain for you, making it easier to digest and significantly healthier. Given these two bits of information I decided to make this bread(and all future sandwich breads I make) with flour that has been stone milled and using a sourdough starter. This bread features hard red wheat flour from Community Grains, a flour company that stone mills and uses only wheat grown in California(might as well go local too!). It's also completely naturally leavened with a long bulk fermentation in the fridge to ensure that the grain is well broken down by the acids in the sourdough.

Long Lasting

I have made sandwich loaves in the past that were really good for the first couple days and then started to become very weak, dry and crumbly after that. It's hard to eat an entire loaf of bread in a couple days if you're only using it for your daily sandwich. So with this loaf I also wanted to put a focus on keeping quality. I did three things to help extend the life of the bread:

  1. I used sourdough which lowers the Ph of the bread(more acidic) which gives a stronger structure to the final product and inhibits mold growth.
  2. I used apple cider vinegar which has similar effects as the sourdough and acts as a preservative.
  3. I made this very high hydration at 95%. In my experience, the wetter your dough is the longer it takes to dry out. Some bakers, such as Richard Bourdon, also believe that wetter doughs allow the starches in the dough to cook more fully making the final product more digestible.


All in all, this loaf definitely met all my requirements of a good sandwich loaf. It is very tasty with the seeds and a very mild sourness from the sourdough. It is extremely healthy and so far after 4 days of use it still has a very soft and moist crumb. Success!

For the formula and more photos visit


Janetcook's picture

If you are interested in using whole grains check out Peter Reinhart's book 'Whole Grain Breads' and give his formulas a try. All loaves can be baked with sd too.  Full of good stuff.

Have Fun,


Julie McLeod's picture
Julie McLeod

That makes a great looking slice of sandwich bread.  I may be trying your formula soon!

dabrownman's picture

Just the sandwichh loaf i would want .  That open crumb,70% whole grains, is a thing of beauty- Well done.  Not buying bread at the store is a worthwhile goal - for sure.  Seems the only thing I buy now and again are enriched slider buns, nit the healthiest if breads,  but my wife buys Oroweat 100% whole wheat since she prefers non SD, fluffy, soft bread that has way more than 5-7 natural ingredients - most of which I can't pronounce, much less, know what they are and are supposed to do.  That's not saying I use 5-7 ingredients in my bread either  - Heck, I have that many different flours in most of them :-)

I think oil is supposed to help the keeping qualities too.  I ddn'tlt know that vinegar did that too.  I though people put in bread t strengthen gluten strands like the acid in SD does.  I bake a SD loaf, quarter it and freeze 3 of the quarters after day 1.  I can tell the difference in quality with SD at day 3 for sure and it takes me 2-3 days to eat a quarter of a loaf.  The frozen loaves taste exactly the same to me at a month (or even 3) later.   I still end up giving half or quarter of a 1,000 g loaf away if I bake a loaf a week.

I'm guessing commercial bread makers put VWG in their bread for the same reason I do. I  can't afford over a dollar a pound for KA AP or bread flour.  I can take most grocery flour at less than 40 cents a pound and, for a couple of pennies worth of VWG, turn it into what ever home made kind of KA flour I want.

I can't tell the difference even though I don't have nearly the amount of protein in the flour I mix up, around 11.25% or so, compared to KA AP and bread flour where their AP has higher protein than the 'bread flour' I mix up.   I think that the specialty flour distributors like KA have way too much protein and gluten in their flours for the job at hand.   French baguettes use low protein flour around 10%, the cheapest available,  to make them.  I say, if you can't tell the difference like me. it is better to save the cost of the expensive flour in order to put a bunch of seeds, nut  and other flavor enhancers in the bread to make it more healthy   But that only works if you can't tell the difference.  

For commercial heath bread bakers,  they are going to source the cheapest flour they can that will do the job producing a good enough product for them and they aren't putting too much VWG in there to do it - just barely enough.     I'll bet, if gluten was a problem for anyone, they  would be much better off eating the VWG added to the bread at the health store than making  bread at home using KA or is equivalent 'quality' flour where the protein is much, much  higher - or even worse.... buying 'artisan' bread  at any bakery supposedly producing it with even 'better' flour.

Most of my bread has at least 50% home milled flour anyway, so it isn't that much of an issue and I only boost the gluten in the white portion to 11% for these breads.  For me, fresh milled flour makes the greatest difference in my breads taste wise than just about anything else - with the exception of Toadies of course:-)

What is a bigger problem for me is the huge amount of salt that is in bread.  They did a study showing Americans ate 3 times too much salt in their diet then they should ....and they got 80% of all their salt intake from bread.    I think a few years ago the Brits forced commercial bread makers to limit salt to 1.1% instead of the industry standard of 2% but I could be wrong.

Who knows, maybe the food police will try to put limits on salt and gluten in bread here one day - another good reason to make bread at home and make it just the way each if us likes it.

Look forward to your sandwich bread quest