The Fresh Loaf

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Kernza sourdough

Felila's picture

Kernza sourdough

I thought this Washington Post article might interest fellow bakers. I haven't tried it yet ...


If you cannot get past the paywall, perhaps I can copy and paste the recipe. 


Felila's picture

On second thought, I'll just post the recipe. And add the info that kernza is a new grain bred from wheatgrass. 

Kernza sourdough bread


For the levain

30 grams (about 2 tablespoons) active sourdough starter

130 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) water

130 grams (about 1 cup) bread flour


For the bread

290 grams levain (all from above)

700 grams (about 3 cups) water, at room temperature, divided

640 grams (5 cups plus 2 tablespoons) bread flour, plus more for shaping and dusting

260 grams (about 2 1/3 cups) Kernza flour (whole, unsifted)

20 grams (generous 1 tablespoon) fine sea or table salt

The day before you want to make the bread (about 8 hours before mixing the final dough), make the levain: Combine the active sourdough starter, water and bread flour in a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or flexible spatula, mix well, cover and leave to ferment at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, until at least doubled in size.

Start the bread dough: Once the levain is fully risen but has not yet started to collapse, it’s time to mix the final dough. A good sign that your levain is at its peak is if the bubbles are still protruding above the surface of the mixture, rather than sinking into it.

Add 680 grams of the water, the bread flour and Kernza flour on top of the levain in the large bowl. Using a wooden spoon or flexible spatula, mix well to fully hydrate the flour. You shouldn’t see any dry pockets of flour.

Pour the salt and remaining 20 grams of water over the top of the dough, but do not mix it in just yet. Cover the bowl and leave to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature for a modified autolyze (this allows the flour to fully hydrate and prevents the salt from tightening the dough too quickly, keeping it easy to stretch).

Start kneading: Work the salt and additional water into the dough by pinching and folding the dough until it is fully incorporated, then give the dough a few kneads or folds to start building up the dough strength. When folding the dough, you want to test its elasticity by picking up one side of the dough, stretching it out as far as you can without tearing, and then folding it back over the dough. Rotate and repeat three more times, one for each side, to make up one series of folds. The dough will stretch less and less as you rotate and repeat; that’s normal. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and leave to ferment at room temperature for 1 hour.

Repeat the folding, and rest the dough for another hour.

Repeat the folding a third time, followed by another 1-hour rest, for a total of 3 hours’ fermentation time.

Shaping: At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough will be less sticky and more smooth, with a few bubbles as the sourdough does its leavening work. Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Divide it into two pieces of roughly 950 grams each.

Taking the first piece, pat it out into a rough rectangle (about 7 by 12 inches), without any air pockets. If using oval bannetons or bowls, you’ll want to shape batards. Stretch the two corners closest to you out and into the center of the dough, so that it resembles a bicycle seat. Then, with the short side facing you, roll the dough into a log-shape, trying to seal and tuck the roll as you go to create some tension on the outside of the dough, which will help with shape and rise. When you’re done rolling, tuck the edges under so the middle is slightly raised. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

If using round bannetons or bowls, you’ll want to shape boules. Stretch each corner out and into the center of the dough, so that it resembles a little dough package. Then, fold the dough in half so the smooth side is facing up and work your hands in a cupping motion around the loaf, your pinkies pressing against the countertop and under the bottom of the dough mass, to rotate it in a circle and push the dough into the surface of the table to create tension. You should feel and see the surface of the dough become more taut.

Proofing: If using bannetons, lightly flour the baskets, being sure to dust each ridge. Then, lightly flour the tops of the loaves and place them in the baskets to proof, seam-side facing up. If using bowls and parchment paper, make sure the parchment pieces hang over the sides of the bowls enough for you to comfortably grab and lift them later. Place the loaves in the parchment-lined bowls with the seam-side facing down, smooth-side up, for easier transfer.

Let proof on the counter for 1 hour, then cover and move the dough to the fridge for a final cold proof, for 4 to 24 hours.

Baking day: Position the baking rack in the middle of the oven, and on it place a large Dutch oven with a lid. Preheat to 450 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Carefully remove the heated Dutch oven from the oven. If using a banneton, you can either gently turn the loaf out into the Dutch oven or onto an extra piece of parchment paper, with plenty of extra paper on the edges to grab, making sure the smooth upper surface is facing you. This can be handy if your Dutch oven is particularly high-walled and you don’t want to reach in to score your loaf. Score the loaf by using a lame, razor blade or sharp knife to cut three deep slashes parallel to each other into the top of the loaf, being mindful of the hot sides of the Dutch oven. Then, if using parchment, carefully grab the extra paper on the sides like a sling and move the parchment-lined loaf into the hot Dutch oven.

Place the lid back onto the Dutch oven and return it to the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes to set and bronze the crust. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove the loaf from the Dutch oven, transfer to a wire rack, and repeat the scoring and baking process with the second loaf.


Let the loaves cool fully, for approximately 2 hours, before slicing.

trailrunner's picture

I wouldn’t want anyone to purchase from Amazon ,  Here is a direct route to Pennington and they offer a generous 15% discount as well. I hope others will purchase from them. An exciting wheat. link takes you to their store and a link to their recipes . I signed up for the newsletter to get a 15% discount. Looking forward to trying this wheat!

idaveindy's picture

At $10/pound, or even discounted to $8.50/pound, that's too expensive for my taste.

Other high-protein super-foods are cheaper, even quinoa and chia.

The goal of the kernza developers is noble, but they just aren't there yet.


trailrunner's picture

I am willing to help further their product and hopefully they will be able to increase production . The perennial wheat is the way to go to prevent so many problems created by the procedures needed to grow traditional wheats. I hope others will give it a try. I shall post back with results. c


edit to add: I ordered a three pack of the  14 oz each whole grain. With discount and shipping it’s 28.52 So it’s indeed pricey but I want to explore a completely new grain . No one has tried it with YW or using a mixer or … so lots to explore. 

alfanso aka Vito Scoreleone's picture
alfanso aka Vit...

Over the summer we saw friends in Vermont, one of whom is closely related to all things grown for food.  Somewhere along the line she was given a bag from someone connected with the Land Institute, and passed it on to me.

I put it into the pantry and kept it on the back burner all this time.  But your post had me draw up a spreadsheet for it based on the WaPo article, and it will be on the agenda for a next bake.  At an overall hydration of 80% this must be one very thirsty grain, at only 25% of the total flour percentage.

The one pound bag has no markings on it other than the Land Institute logo and "Kernza Perennial Grain Flour".  Not even the weight of the contents.  A clear indication that this was a promotional gimme.  

I'll give it a whirl this week or next and post back on it.

trailrunner's picture

The website has a LOT of recipes by their recipe developer. You might give a look at those prior to baking just to get more ideas. There are sourdough as well as quick breads and yeast breads. Looks like it does especially well when paired with Kamut and the like. Will look forward to your bake. I have a ton of breads baked on Christmas Eve so not needing anything for a couple weeks.