Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sunflower Bread

This is one of my favorite breads I've made with my sourdough starter. It's nutty, not too dense despite the millet and buckwheat flours, slightly sweet, and absolutely delicious with cheese. Like most of the sourdough breads I've done, the recipe uses both sourdough starter and some commercial yeast, so the rising time is pretty predictable. The final loaf is on the small side (it served five for breakfast along with lots of other food), so if you want a larger loaf, you might want to double the recipe. The bread is pretty heavy on the sunflower seeds, which I liked, but I think you could reduce the amount and still get an excellent loaf.

You can use whatever interesting flours you have on hand to supplement the bread flour. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup millet flour, but let me tell you: if you want some millet flour, just go and buy some. I tried to grind up millet in my food processor, and it took forever to turn into flour. I only managed about 1/4 cup before I gave up, so I supplemented with some buckwheat flour I had on hand, with great results. The original recipe was sort of funny, with a mix of ounces, grams, cups, teaspoons, etc. I just went with the measures given, but if you don't have a scale, just add a large scoop (maybe a scant 1/3 cup-ish) of sourdough starter and adjust for liquid later.

Sunflower Bread (adapted from The Art of Handmade Bread by Dan Lepard)
Makes 1 small loaf

1 1/2 cups (200 g) bread flour (80%)
1/4 cup (25 g) millet flour (10%)
1/4 cup (25 g) buckwheat flour (10%)
1 1/2 cups (200 g) sunflower seeds, lightly toasted (80%)
3/4 tsp fine sea salt (2%)
2 1/2 T honey (20%)
3 1/2 oz. white leaven/sourdough starter (40%)
1 tsp instant yeast
6 T (100g) water at 68 degrees (40%)
Half-and-half, for glazing

In a large bowl, combine the flours with the sunflower seeds and salt. In another bowl or pitcher, beat the leaven with the honey, yeast, and water. Pour the liquid in with the dry ingredients and stir well until evenly combined, soft, and sticky. Add more water or flour as needed. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.

Rub 1 tsp oil on the work surface and knead the dough 10 seconds, ending with the dough in a smooth, round ball. Clean and dry the bowl, and rub lightly with oil. Return dough to bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Remove and knead once more on the oiled surface, returning the shape to a smooth, round ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover, and leave 1 hour in a warm place.

Lightly flour your work surface and shape the dough into a ball. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until almost doubled in height.

Preheat the oven to 410 degrees. Brush the loaf generously with half-and-half (or milk, or a beaten egg). Cut a deep cross in the center of the loaf. Bake 25 minutes, or until the loaf is a deep golden brown, feels light in weight, and sounds hollow. (If the bread still isn't done after 30 minutes, lower heat to 375 degrees for the remainder of the baking time.) Cool on a wire rack.

Don't forget to check out other awesome yeast-y goodies at YeastSpotting (round-up posted every Friday).

These fabulous photos are courtesy of my friend Jessie.


  1. I could not have that loaf in the house. I would eat it all myself! I absolutely LOVE seeds and nuts in bread. I am off to King Arthur to take a look at starter. Like I need another baking addiction! Thanks for the recipes and the pic are great :)

  2. I adore very heavy breads like your beauty. I like them sliced with cold butter and sliced radishes, salt and pepper.

  3. Most beautiful crust ever!

  4. That looks so delicous. I love seeds in bread and sunflower seeds are my favorite.

  5. This bread is such a beauty. Sunflower seeds add such a nice texture and flavor to a bread. I'm bookmarking this!