The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Polenta Sourdough with Toasted Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds 

Danni3ll3's picture

Polenta Sourdough with Toasted Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds 


I felt it was time to revisit some of the recipes that I have made in the past and Ru’s Polenta Sourdough was one that I really liked and wanted to play around with a bit. So this is my second version of her recipe.




330 g of Selkirk wheat berries (this is a 1950s hard red spring wheat variety)

110 g of cornmeal

300 g of boiling water 

770 g of unbleached flour

50 g ground flax

100 g raw sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan

100 g raw pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan

575 g water

22 g pink Himalayan salt

35 g kefir

360 g levain (100% hydration)(Instructions included below)


  1. A couple of night before making the dough, mill the Selkirk wheat berries and sift out the bran. Mill the bran again on a finer setting. Reserve all of the bran for the levain. Remove 143 g of the sifted flour for the main dough and reserve the rest of it for the levain.
  2. The morning before making the dough, start building the levain as follows: Build #1: 16 g starter, 31 g water, 31 g bran Let rest 8-10 hours. You won’t see any activity, so don’t worry. Just leave it alone. Build #2: 62 g each of water and sifted flour. Let rest overnight.  Build #3: 94 g each of water and sifted flour. Place in a warm spot. It is ready to use once it doubles. Mine doubled in a couple of hours but I used it after about 4 hours.
  3. The night before, soak the 110 g of cornmeal in 300 g of boiling water. Let rest covered overnight.
  4. A couple of hour before the levain is ready, mix the the 143 g of sifted Selkirk flour with 770 g of unbleached flour, 50 g ground flax seeds, 100 g each of toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  5. Pour 575 g of water into the the soaking polenta and loosen the whole mess with a whisk. This will take some time. There may be a few little lumps left but keep at it until it is all loosened. If you don’t, you will find huge lumps of cornmeal in your dough. Don’t ask me how I know that!
  6. Pour the cornmeal/water mixture into the flour/seed blend and mix well until all of the flour is hydrated. Let autolyse for a couple of hours until the levain is ready.
  7. Add 22 g salt, 35 g kefir and 360 g of levain to the dough. Mix very well and then do 100 stretches and folds in the bowl/bucket. This really is more like kneading in the bowl rather than true stretches and folds but it helps develop the gluten and it distributes the levain and the salt.
  8. Place in a warm spot and give two sets of folds one hour apart. Let rise until 50-60% risen and you can see bubbles at the edge of the bucket. The dough should feel solid but full of air.
  9. Divide into 3 loaves and do a very loose pre-shape. Do not degas the dough. Let rest for 30 minutes. Do a final shape by cinching the dough. Once again, do not degas the dough. Place seam side down in rice/AP floured bannetons and cover. Let rise on counter at room temperature for 45 minutes and then put to bed for the night in the fridge.
  10. The next morning, heat the oven to 475 F with the Dutch ovens inside for at least 45 minutes. Place parchment rounds on the bottom of the pots and gently drop the boules inside seam side up. Cover and drop the temperature to 450 F, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove lids, and bake for another 20 minutes at 400 F or until the insides measure 205 F. 
  11. Cool for at least a couple of hours before cutting and enjoying!

The oven spring wasn’t what I would wish for. I am guessing that it was slightly over proofed. The photo is deceiving. The loaf doesn't look like that in real life.


Next time, I think I would reduce the rest time to 15 minutes and then skip the room temperature proof and put directly into the fridge. I also retarded it for longer than usual (about 13-14 hours) and the amount of prefermented flour was more than usual as well. So live and learn. I know it will taste good. Crumb shot to come later.


This is a more accurate photo of the oven spring.


Floydm's picture

Sounds like a work in progress but a really nice combination.  

trailrunner's picture

I remember this one. I love the porridge breads. Have you tried using " real " polenta ? It is not as fine as corn meal. I get it from a local mill. I also use stone ground yellow  grits from a local mill instead of corn meal or polenta. It doesn't lump like the corn meal. I still have too much bread in the freezer but should be baking again later in the week. c

Danni3ll3's picture

whole grain cornmeal in my stash so I used that. I don’t know if I can find grits here but it sounds like a good idea. The clumping was a real pain to undo. 

Danni3ll3's picture

Not bad, could be better!


trailrunner's picture

that is how all my crumbs usually look.It is a beautiful structure , as far as I am concerned. There are pics of breads that are nothing but holes...I am not interested in that type except if it is sliced correctly for a po-boy , length wise. Otherwise it isn't substantial enough to suit me LOL !  I love your breads !! 

I looked up and you can get Bob's Red Mill polenta in Canada. I have used it and it is quite good. I see Amazon Canada also has white Bob's Red Mill grits, I like the yellow although I grew up eating white ones in New Orleans. Anyway try some if you get a chance. Also if you actually cook them and then beat them till just warm you can add them right then to your bread dough. Otherwise cook them and let them cool and reheat them  in microwave till warm with some water and  whisk and they won't have lumps...also add some Olive Oil or butter to them when cooking and they won't lump. Good Luck !  c

isand66's picture

Great looking bake and I agree with Caroline...that crumb looks pretty darned good to me.  Nice to see the porridge sticking out of the crumb as well.  I'm sure this one must be tasty.

Happy Baking!


dabrownman's picture

this was one if best breads for sure.  Love the crumb shot.  Has to be tasty with all the add ins and polenta.  Nice!

Happy baking Danni


Cedarmountain's picture

A fine looking bread Danni, I am focused on the last picture...the crumb is great, makes me hungry looking at it, well done!

dabrownman's picture

this is a very nice crumb indeed.  The corn doesn't help with the gluten structure and all the rest just gets in the way.  I'm still trying to figure out why you do the first stage levain for 10-12 hours with suce a small feeding of bran?  I do about 4 hours max and then on to stage 2.  This is one killer bread Danni.

Danni3ll3's picture

I get up, feed the thing, and head out to Pilates and Pottery. By the time I get home, it is 7 hours later or so.