The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cranberry Feta with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Danni3ll3's picture

Cranberry Feta with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Cranberry Feta Sourdough


Continuing my quest for a more open crumb and taking a page out of Dabrownman’s method, I sifted out the bran to use for the levain builds and changed my process a bit. Early in the week, I took 5 grams of my NFNM starter and placed it on the counter. To the 5 grams of starter, I fed it 15 g of water and 15 g of flour. This was a combo of white to wholewheat flour. The starter is quite a bit more active using all wholewheat rather than white or a combo of white and wholewheat. After peak which varied according to the type of flour it was fed, I discarded everything but 5 g and continued to feed it the above amounts. 


As to the combo of cranberry and feta, the idea came to me as I was eating a salad with those ingredients in it. I was going to just have the cranberries and the feta initially, but I felt that something was missing. So I thought that either Rosemary or sunflower seeds would go well with the cranberries and feta but I didn’t have any fresh rosemary so the sunflower seeds won out. However, I did find some dried rosemary in the spice drawer so I put a teaspoon in one batch to see how it turns out.





150 g dried cranberries

100 g crumbed feta

50 g toasted sunflower seeds

1 tsp dried rosemary (optional)



110 g freshly milled spelt

110 g freshly milled red fife wheat

110 g freshly milled einkorn

660 g unbleached flour

110 g multigrain

50 g freshly ground flax seed

700 g water 

30 g kefir

21 g salt

240 g 80% hydration levain


  1. Thursday night, milled the spelt, red fife and einkorn, and sifted out the bran. This gave me 26 g of bran. Since I needed a total of 142 g to feed my starter, I took out 116 g of the spelt, red fife and einkorn flour that was just milled and sifted, and reserved that as well as the 26 g of bran for feeding the starter. The rest of the high extraction flour was placed into the dough bucket. If you don’t wish to do this nonsense🙄, just reserve 142 g of the combined spelt, red fife and einkorn flour mix to feed to your levain. 
  2. In order to build my levain to be ready for Saturday morning, I did the following: 
    1. Thursday night, took 3 g of the starter and fed it 8 g of water and 9 g of bran. This makes for a very thick mixture.
    2. Friday morning, kept all of the starter and fed it 15 g of water and all of the remaining bran plus some of the reserved flour to equal to 19 grams. Once again, the mixture is very thick.  It was placed in the oven with the light on and the door cracked. This creates a warm spot that is about 82 F. 
    3. Friday mid afternoon, kept all the starter and fed it 31 g of water and 38 g of reserved flour. It doubled in 2 hours!! I let it rise until it was no longer domed (5 hours). 
    4. Friday night, once again, kept all of the starter and fed it 61 g of water and 76 g of reserved flour. I let it rise till doubled (2hours) and put into the fridge overnight. 
    5. Saturday morning, the Levain was taken out of the fridge to warm up on the counter. After a couple of hours, it was stirred down and left to rise again. 
  3. Saturday morning, to the mixed grain flours in the dough bucket, added 660 g unbleached flour, 110 g multigrain flour (Robin Hood Best for Bread multigrain), 50 g of ground flax seed, 150 g cranberries, 100 g crumbled feta and 50 g toasted sunflower seeds.  Added 700 g water to the dough flour and mix until no dry spots are left. Autolysed for 4 hours.
  4. Added 40 g kefir, 20 g salt, 30 g water, and 240 of levain  and integrated well. Used 75 stretches and folds until I felt that the dough was well developed. Put the dough in the oven with the light on as the dough felt quite cold. 
  5. Fermented by doing 3 sets of (5 or 6 going all around the dough) stretches and folds 30 to 45 minutes apart at the beginning and then another couple of gentle sets at least an hour apart near the end. The dough was quite cold at the beginning of fermentation so it just sat there for the first 3-4 hours. It started rising during the 5th hour. The dough rose 30 to 50%, bubbles were present around the edges, and the translucent sides showed lots of irregular air spaces when it was ready. This took a total of 5 and a half hours! Note to myself: Put the dough to autolyse in a warm spot!
  6. Divided into three equal portions, shaped gently into boules and let rest for 15 - 20 minutes. I tried to shape in such a way that I got a taut skin but did not degas the boules completely. Placed the dough seam side down into floured bannetons and cover. Put into the fridge to proof overnight (~14 hours). I reduced the preferment flour in this recipe to 12% to try and extend the time in the fridge without risking over proofing. 
  7. The next morning, 14 hours later, the loaves had risen about 50% is my guess. Preheated the oven and the dutch ovens to 475 F for at least 45 minutes. Placed parchment rounds in the bottom of the pots once well heated and carefully placed the dough on top with the seam side up. If you wish to score your loaves, proof seam side up and bake seam side up. I prefer the other way since I don’t have to deal with trying to score inside a screaming hot pot. I have scored on the counter and then put the loaves in the pot and it works some of the time, but since I prefer the look of the natural tearing, I go with that. 
  8. Placed the cover back on the dutch oven and baked at 450 F for 25 minutes and then uncovered for an additional 22 minutes at 425 F. Baked till nice and dark and internal temperature was at least 205 F. 



I am very happy with the look of these loaves. I got very good oven spring and they smell wonderful! Crumb shot coming soon!


ETA: Here is a shot of the second load. The 3 on the left have the rosemary in them.



dabrownman's picture

feta, rosemary, sunflower seeds, cranberry with those whole grains and flax has to be about the tastiest thing ever foisted on the bread world.  Love the levain build but Lucy would have put all of the bran in the first stage rather than have some left over for the 2nd stage the next morning.   I'm guessing you will love the crumb of this bread and it will taste terrific and be sour too to balance the whole grains.  Now I feel like Lucy developed the NMNF stater and bran levain just for you to mess with and get just right:-)

Well done and happy NFNM Bran Levain baking Danni.

Danni3ll3's picture

the yeast by feeding it all of the bran. I suppose I could combine the first and second feeding and leave it longer to rise.

One more thing that I am pleased with was that I was able to retard this dough for 14 hours. That's an improvement over the 10-12 hours limit that I had previously. Maybe some of this had to do with the dough not being especially warm since it took forever to rise. You wouldn't think that changing the prefermented flour from 13 to 12% would make that much of a difference.

trailrunner's picture

beautiful loaf and I bet the fragrance is amazing. I have a package of feta left from pizzas. Will have to give this try. 

Danni3ll3's picture

Not terribly open but good enough I guess. By the way, it is super yummy and that touch of rosemary just peeks through. 

trailrunner's picture

I am with Ian on  " open crumb" . It is a great way to have everything leak out !!  Mustard on the fingers....your bread looks spectacular. I wouldn't change a thing. I wish I could use flax seed....not able to eat seeds even ground up. Oh well I don't seem to have the over-rising in the retard stage so I guess I can soldier on without. But I look forward to your bakes. c

Danni3ll3's picture

with over-rising in the fridge? Really? I had no idea!

Off to scour the web for info on that. I use the flax for nutrition and for soaking up extra water (which makes it easier to mix the dough) when doing the autolyse. 

leslieruf's picture

such good bakes posted today, just as well its nearly dinner time as it is making me hungry! would love to try rosemary but hubby ain’t keen so it is not often used.

lovely Danni as ever


trailrunner's picture

i thought I read that in your post!!! No they probably don’t help with that issue lol! Sorry. 

isand66's picture

Great combo of flavors.  While the crumb is not as open as you want it's plenty open and must taste great.  Keep experimenting until you find your sweet spot.

Happy Baking!