Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Buckwheat with Toasted Groats & Crème Fraîche

Buckwheat is not a grain, it's actually a seed, and it is not a grass like wheat, it is indeed related to sorrel and rhubarb. The reason why buckwheat is not the most popular little seed, despite its sundry assets, is because its cultivation faced a serious decline in the 20th century with the introduction of nitrogen fertilizers required by other hearty staples (corn and wheat) to feed our hungry and growing world. Buckwheat does not do well in nitrogen-rich soils. In fact it grows admirably in soils that are not so rich. It's a shame that we aren't turning our attention to its cultivation because it begs only a short growing season, so it can be squeezed between the growing of other crops, advantageous to the farmer who has some space between plantings. It also establishes quickly, grows rapidly and abundantly for a quick and fruitful harvest, and successfully subdues other noxious weeds making it a great plant for pesticide-free gardening.

Now that you have all that info, you should also know that it's incredibly healthful with it's complete amino-acid profile and antioxidants. Excellent.

The flavor of buckwheat is really intense, so a little goes a long way, and as Chad points out, it has no gluten so contributes even less structure than rye, so too much involvement within a loaf will result in a weakened dough. Chad suggests using not much more than 5% buckwheat flour in your dough lest you run the risk of a flat loaf. I, being a rebel, defied him and added a whopping 7.8%. OK, maybe that's not terribly rebellious. I just had this idea at the last minute, see, as I was mixing up my dough, I thought I might mill up a few grams of the toasted grains and add that to impart a more nutty flavor. And here's why. For this loaf I milled my own flour using Bob's Red Mill whole buckwheat, but the hull has been removed, so the little pyramidical seeds are cream and green colored resulting in a blonde flour. You can indeed find whole buckwheat with the hulls intact, but I didn't have any on hand, so my resolution to what could have been a missing flavor element to my loaf was to toast up fifteen additional grams of the seeds, mill them and add them to the dough. Boy, did this turn out to be a swell idea, because it imparted a gorgeous nuttiness to the handsome loaf.

Tartine Buckwheat with Toasted Groats & Crème Fraîche

I should mention that the reason I decided on the toasted flour addition was because I did a little research on store-bought buckwheat flour. Turns out that the buckwheat flour that you see in the market is this gorgeous gray color with flecks of black because millers mill up denuded grains and hulls separately then add a quantity of the milled hulls back into the flour to impart color, flavor and a little more bran. Milling the whole seed with the bran intact would result in an incredibly heavy flour. So if you decide to mill your own using whole buckwheat with the bran intact, you might consider sifting out some of the bran to lighten up the flour a bit.

Not only did this bread turn out to have a rather interesting flavor profile - musky, nutty, a little floral, decidedly sweet - but it also achieved a gorgeous loft and a fabulously brittle coat. The thoughtful addition of crème fraîche resulted in a tender, really moist and just rich enough crumb, and the contribution of the whole toasted groats as a soaker was brilliant. I figured that it would easily become one of my favorite Tartine breads, and my friends are already asking when I'm baking the next loaf.

Moving right along.

I used Heartland Mills high-extraction flour, which is called 'Golden Buffalo' in their online store, for this bread for a couple of reasons. First, it weighs in at 90% extraction, and since high-extraction comprises half the total flour weight, I wanted to use it rather than Jovial which is 80% extraction. I thought it would be lovely to have just a little more bran in the bread. Second, while I adore Jovial high-extraction flour its flavor is much more pronounced than Heartland Mills, and I didn't want it to compete with the special and unusual flavor of the buckwheat. I find HM high-extraction to be a little sweeter and Jovial to be a little more resinous in both the nose and the palate, both wonderful attributes, but things that we should take into consideration with regard to the overall bread. I think that Jovial is really well-suited for breads whose main flour has a sweeter profile. At first glance and taste I quickly realized that it was a sound choice.

I must confess, I'm really exhausted today, so in keeping with the virtues of brevity, I'm going to give you the details of our next bread and hit the hay!

Have a look.

Buckwheat with Toasted Groats & Crème Fraîche


1 cup heavy cream
2 TB buttermilk

24 hours before you plan to make your dough, combine the heavy cream and buttermilk in a glass container, cover with cheesecloth and leave it on the counter to ferment for 24 hours. It will thicken and become mildly acidic with a pleasant creamy almost citrusy aroma. Once fermented, refrigerate until ready to use.


75g BRM home-milled hard red spring wheat
75g 68 degree h2o
10g 100% hydration, 100% wholemeal rye starter

Mix together your levain ingredients and ferment. Mine took 7 hours 45 minutes.


For The Dough:

450 70 degree h2o
250g high-extraction flour, I used Heartland Mills 'Golden Buffalo' at 90% extraction
225g KA bread flour
25g home-milled BRM buckwheat flour
15g home-milled BRM buckwheat flour from groats that I toasted first
35g wheat germ
12g kosher salt, I used Diamond


69g toasted whole dehulled buckwheat groats
Enough warm water to cover the toasted groats

35g crème fraîche (see recipe above)
(Use the rest of your crème fraîche in the cake that I developed for my friends at Community Grains. It's listed here on Farm to Table Geek, my other blog, and here at Community Grains. Seriously. It's the best cake you will ever make).

Dissolve all of the levain in the water, then mix in the high-extraction flour, the bread flour and both the toasted and raw buckwheat flour by hand. Autolyse one hour.

While the dough is autolysing, soak the toasted buckwheat groats with enough warm water to cover, set aside.

After the autolyse, drain the soaked buckwheat groats, squeezing out as much water as you can, and mix them together with the crème fraîche. Now squish the salt into the dough until thoroughly incorporated, then fold in the soaked groats and crème fraîche mixture until it's fully incorporated and the dough arrives at a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 4-hour bulk fermentation.

Every half hour, perform a series of turns throughout the entire bulk fermentation, taking care not to deflate the dough as you near the end of bulk.

When bulk fermentation is accomplished, turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with brown rice flour, and shape into a loose round. Let it rest. Drape with a damp paper towel to keep it from forming a skin. Mine rested for 25 minutes.

After the bench, shape the dough into a taut boule and pop into a banneton or a bowl lined with linen that you have dusted with brown rice flour. Pop in the fridge and ferment. Mine fermented for 14 hours and 25 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Dust the dough lightly with brown rice flour then unearth by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Slash or snip the dough in some lovely pattern, then slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp, then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.

After the steam, remove the fat end of the dutchie, then stack the pan over its mouth to create a buffer between the hot stone and the bread. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening. Toggle the oven between 460 and 475 until the boule is baked to desired darkness. I aim for chestnut-colored.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour and a half before slicing.


To the staff of life!


  1. Simply beautiful (as usual). I've definitely wondered about is home milling though so far have been able to talk myself out of it ;). Can you say what kind of difference home milling is making - crumb, taste?

    1. the difference is nonpareil. the texture is much more tender and moist than store bought. much more fragrant. much more true to the flavor of the grain. i have some interesting experiments coming up next week with home milling.

      thanks for the compliment. but mine still stands: your loaf of bread is the most beautiful i have seen in a very long time!


    2. Can't wait to read more about home mill! You are definitely making it difficult to keep telling myself I don't need a mill! ;)

    3. Josh. just do it. they aren't that expensive. they ARE loud though. lol. i love that komo says that they are soooo quiet! nothing could be further from the truth. so, if you have a shed, you are in good shape. but early a.m. milling it OUT!


  2. Thank you so much for your blog. I am a new baker and I would have been really discouraged without the information you've given here. I am not baking "pretty good" loaves but realize I need to buy a grain mill. Store bought flour here in Cambridge, MA seems pretty dead. I'm wondering why you decided on the Komo. I've been looking at them online and trying to decide between the classic and the fedibus 21 (the smaller motor). Any thoughts on this decision? I bake about 5 loaves a week. Thank you again. You're an inspiration.

    1. Judy. Milling is SO much fun. Um, I first decided on the KoMo because it was pretty. LOL. But seriously, I did a bunch of research about all kinds of mills, and KoMo had all of the elements of what I wanted: Electric (I can't believe people would put themselves through milling by hand!), it uses stones vs. metal to grind the flour, they're powerful, affordable, and yes, they are pretty. I didn't want something big and white and plastic (and ugly) sitting on my counter. Baking is supposed to be beautiful, right?

      OK. You might consider the classic because if you are already baking 5 loaves now, you are probably headed in the direction of more loaves per week that in the future and the Classic will give you plenty of room to grow. The motor is SERIOUSLY strong, and it's bigger than it seems online. I can tell you, I probably won't ever need to buy another mill in my bread baking lifetime. For $120 more, you won't have to worry about upgrading. And you will probably never need the Fidibus XL, so, I always think it's safe to choose for something around the middle. Here is where I got mine, it's the least expensive on the net, and free shipping. That made the decision for me, because it's a really heavy machine and shipping could ruin you! Let me know what you decide on!

    2. Thank you so much for your thoughts on the right mill. I am headed over to the site you suggest to order the Classic now. You are so right, baking is beautiful. And the Classic will grind as much flour as we will ever need. My 17 month old grandson loves the bread I've been baking and he will benefit immensely from freshly milled flour (as will we all). And again thank you so much for your fabulous blog. I would have given up weeks ago after baking several "bricks" over several days. It wasn't until I discovered your blog that I was able to produce an edible loaf. I've also been over to your other blog and am inspired to go to the (indoor) farmer's market here this Saturday.

  3. Incredibly beautiful loaf ! If only i knew what tongue you're speaking in the directions :)

  4. Ohh Wow!! This looks Delicious.I really want to try this buckwheat recipe.Thanks



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.