Sunday, April 7, 2013


this bread turned out more agreeably than i thought it would. so, it's buckwheat, right, and bread flour. here's the thing about flours not explored hitherto, you want only to start with a soupçon in order to gauge its behavior. my go-to weight for loaves with a total flour weight of 500 grams is always 80-110 grams: 100 grams of rye, 110 grams of wheat, perhaps, 80 grams of corn, i think, likewise for polenta, semolina too. i think that these training-wheel weights are such that no matter the behavior of the grain, it (un) won't assail the progress of your loaf, and (deux) will provide a sort of starting point where after you can exercise a more daring hand. this is not to fault the daredevil within,  but there is nothing more pitiable than the fallen loaf with skins of stone. the cautious have never suffered so much as the imprudent. mark my words.

so you do a little reading first, yeah? and then you decide to dive in and give it a whirl. be prudent, have a look-see, a sniff-about. ah, and then you can adjust from here.

buckwheat. aside from that guileless character with unfortunate hair, what do we know about it? Let's have a look.

BUCKWHEAT. Wholly not a grain, no less than a plant related to rhubarb. its darling seeds look and behave like a grain, thus is the luxury that we may employ it for bread. it contains no gluten, so crackers made from it can be had by those who cannot tolerate the stuff. think: tan asian noodles called soba, these are made from buckwheat, our new friend. and this little rascal, you will be happy to hear, is a complete source of protein.

let's enjoy this new discovery, right? good, because i've a bag of it that must be used.

i began this loaf remembering how wonderfully this flour behaved in some crackers i made a while ago. nutty, i remember them being, and as i love to flog a good, dead horse, i added sunflower seeds to the dough.

the dough, it must be mentioned, feels a bit gluey, flaccid, sticky, you may even feel as though your bread could not possibly come out well, given some evident lack of vigor. but forge on, because it will despite all of these ominous signs. and for those of you who have asked why sometimes i use bread flour flour instead all purpose on various occasion, it's because when working with another flour that lacks gluten, i like to make up for that loss with a higher protein flour, bread flour, as it were, which, of course, contains more gluten than all purpose. i use all purpose when there is no fear of the fallen loaf because all purpose is lower in protein than bread flour, thus providing a more tender crumb. i choose wisely, see, it's not all willy-nilly over here, despite appearances.

carrying on...

a brief note on seeds and nuts, any seed/nut for any bread: those worked into the dough must be toasted for optimum flavor, those that you press to the outside of the dough should remain raw; they will toast in the oven as the bread bakes. if you toast them prior, they will blacken and ruin your day.

with all that said. here is our latest bread. of course, i will post the ensuing results as i experiment with increased measures of this flour along with any further adjustments, using this loaf as a platform for the newest fork in our road.

i give you...

buckwheat & sunflower


make your levain:

50g 100% rye, 100% hydration starter
100g dark rye flour, i used to your health
100g h2o

mix this together to make a paste and ferment. mine took 9 hours


250g levain
110g organic, sprouted buckwheat flour
         (i used 'to your health' with fantastic results)
390g KA organic bread flour
364g h2o
100g toasted sunflower seeds
125g raw sunflower seeds
9g salt
20g organic sprouted barley malt, i used 'eden'

mix together the levain, the flours and water until it reaches a shaggy mass. autolyse for 1 full hour. after autolyse, squish the salt into the dough with your hands. add the toasted seeds. knead the dough for a full two minutes by hand, i mean, really beat the crap out of it. it will be sticky and horrendous, but loads of fun.

begin the 3-hour bulk fermentation. for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation, you will perform a series of turns every half hour at room temp. for the last hour hour, pop the dough in the fridge and allow it to ferment, untouched.

after the bulk fermentation is complete, turn the dough out onto a counter dusted with just  a whisper of brown rice flour, gather it up into a loose round and let it rest for 10 minutes. after it has rested, shape it into a boule.

just a whisper of rice flour, don't worry, the dough won't stick...

spread the 125 of raw sunflower seeds on your proofing cloth (i just use a rough square of linen), place the dough in the center...

now press the seeds to the sides of the dough, taking great care to thoroughly coat it, or it will stick and cause mayhem tomorrow when you are ready to unearth it.

pop this into a bowl, sprinkle the top of the dough with rice flour, then layer it with a dampened piece of cheesecloth, now cover it. pop in the fridge and ferment for 23.5 hours.


one hour before you bake, preheat the oven to 550 degrees. make sure your stone and both halves of the combo cooker are in there too. after a full hour (no cheating)...

unearth the dough onto a peel lined with a piece of parchment, man, did this baby rise; brush away any seeds that have cascaded from the dough (feed these to the dog); then slide it into the shallow half of the combo cooker.

pop on the top half and turn the oven down to 475 degrees. steam for 30 minutes. after the steam, remove the top half of the combo cooker using an oven mitt to avoid nasty steam burns.

turn the oven down to 425 degrees, rotating it every ten minutes or so to ensure even browning. at this stage, watch it fastidiously, if the seeds look like they are browning too quickly, turn the oven down a little more. best to go low and slow for even browning (and no burning) of the seeds, and a thoroughly baked interior. this loaf will brown quicker than you are accustomed to because of the seeds and the barley malt. the sugar in the barley malt causes the crust to caramelize quickly, but given your advanced skills as a baker, you will know exactly how to adjust that temperature.

using a large, flat utensil, unearth the bread and cool it for at least one hour on a rack. the bread needs at least this amount of time so that the moisture can redistribute through the crumb. if you slice it whilst hot, you will have a gummy dough. heed this advice, and reap the rewards of it.

be sure to keep a tiny bowl handy while you are slicing the bread to capture all of the little seeds that fall away. these make for lovely snacking.

verdict: goodness me, this bread is to die for. the interior was as splendid as one could hope for, so tender. and the crust was perfectly caramelized. it was pleasantly sour, undeniably nutty. if there is one thing that i will change next time round is to increase the amount of barley malt that i use to at least 40g (which would likely necessitate the reduction of hydration in the dough, so keep this in mind if you make this adjustment on your own). and i may cut the final ferment to 20 hours. i will keep you posted when i make these changes.

and another thank you to Susan's wild yeast blog for letting us flaunt our accomplishments so unabashedly.

to the staff of life!



  1. Realy nice with all that seed ......which tipe of LODGE do you use for cooking bread ?? which size ??

    1. hi Michele. i actually have the 'classic' combo cooker that chad suggests, and it works fantastically.

      the pan is about 9.5" measured from the inside.

      but what i like better is a setup that was in my cabinet when i started making bread: a cast iron pan of the same size as the combo cooker's pan, and a cast iron 'chicken fryer' which serves as the lid and is exactly like the deep part of the combo cooker. you can get this sort of stuff practically free at flea markets (old cast iron stuff is so cheap; you can get these parts for about $5 each at flea markets) so, you can get creative and save a little cash if you don't have access to a lodge, and many people have these pans in their kitchens already and don't even realize it.

      happy baking!

  2. Beautiful loaf and photos as always. Even without slashing you look like you got a good rise. The crumb looks so soft!

    1. it looks absolutely smothered, right? i thought about slashing some tiny spots, but i decided not to because i wanted to achieve, well, exactly what i did: a perfect dome of seeds. and the crumb is so soft and fabulous. see what i mean about seeds/color/oven temp? you actually inspired this :) i think this is the second post that you've inspired, come to think of it!

  3. Look at that perfect sunflower seed crust, and the crumb looks wonderful! I happen to have some buckwheat flour kicking around ... I just might have to bake this up this week.

    1. ha! Kristen, do you know, this loaf was literally 'sittin' around', like, i had buckwheat, happened to have barley malt, and happened to have the seeds. and of course we all have bread flour. how serendipitous! the next time i make it, i will increase the barley malt by 20g. happy baking!

  4. Hello!

    I am so excited to make this, sounds right up my alley,

    I have a sprouted spelt flour (whole spelt) and a regular buckwheat. I am not sure what would make a better substitute for the sprouted buckwheat... Thoughts? Also, is it a bad idea to swap in honey for the malt?

  5. Sorry, another question! Does this make a single loaf or two loaves?

    1. Hi emily. It makes one loaf. Go ahead and use either, but the buckwheat goes really well with the seeds. It's OK if it's not sprouted. You will have to make some adjustments in your hydration during dough day, more or less. I would go a few grams scant, then add if it feels dry. To your health makes some pretty thirsty flours, so the hydration when using other brands of flour will have to be taken into consideration. I would try honey. I was going to for this loaf, but went with the barley instead because I had it. It should behave the same, hydration wise. And here's a tip, with my next loaf of this bread, I was going to increase the barley malt a bit (though it's not as sweet as honey, so you might be fine using the same ratio), and decrease the salt a bit, maybe to 7 grams. I felt that it competed with the barley malt, and I wanted this to be like an 'Amy's Breadsticks' sort of thing, and it was very close to that.

      Let me know how it turns out for you!



Follow My Other Blogs Too!

Popular Posts

Search This Blog

get a hold of me at



Except where noted otherwise, all content within the blog posts on this site,, are the sole intellectual property of Francis-Olive Hampton and protected under United States copyright laws: Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works regardless the nationality or domicile of the author. Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

No part of any blog post shall be duplicated or manipulated for private use without prior consent.