Friday, January 25, 2013

Pain au Levain with Sunflower, sesame and flax seeds

After some weeks with family and without baking bread it’s time to give my full attention to my sourdough. I needed to feed the sourdough two times before I could use it. Still, not bad after such a long neglect. 

Today I wanted to smell roasted sunflower seeds in our house. We love the smell and taste of these nutty seeds. And together with sesame and flax seeds we also have a very healthy loaf. 

I found a nice recipe of Daniel Leader made by Weekend Loafer.

I like to grind the flax instead of making the soaker. Because I grinded whole wheat bran in my blender it was more coarse and absorbed more water than I anticipated at first. I added water when I was kneading the dough by hand until it felt good (medium dough consistency). I had to finish to knead the dough by hand because the mixer stopped, because a bug (probably a cockroach) made his/her home on the printed circuit board. We live in the tropics and so do a lot of bugs and some want to live inside my mixer. Peter has removed a few families already and knows what to do. In the meantime I kneaded the dough by hand. At first we had to get use to the idea of cockroaches in our house, but mostly we don’t see them because they come out at night. In every house in the tropics you find them together with geckos, ants, mosquitoes and what else walks or flies in. The other night we had a bat coming out of the chimney, one day a snake followed a frog on the run right into our living room. And yesterday morning we woke up from a loud bang against the terrace windows; a young owl was sitting on the terrace looking dizzy. Luckily she wasn’t hurt and after some time she flew away. Now we can enjoy her when she flies  by in owl-light. 

Name                                       Pain au Levain with Sunflower, sesame and flax seeds
Adapted from                            Daniel Leader’s Local Breads
Yields                                       1 loaf
Dough temp.                             24°C
Autolyse                                   60 minutes
Mixing                                      2 slow and 3 medium speed
Fermentation                            60 minutes
Shape                                      batard
Proof at roomtemp.                  60 minutes
Bake 230°C                              35 minutes; 10 with steam and 25 without

This is what I used:
Bakers formula                      %          grams
Flour                                        100       580
Water                                      79        462
Salt                                          1.7       10       

Levain starter
stiff starter                                           45
unbleached all purpose flour                   95
Whole wheat flour                                 5
water                                                   50

Final Dough
Unbleached all purpose flour                  235      
Whole wheat flour                                185
Rye flour                                               30
Gluten                                                   30
Water                                                  462
Salt                                                      10                                                       
Stiff levain starter                                 125
Sunflower seeds                                    110
Flax seeds (grinded)                              100
Sesame seeds (toasted)                          60       

This is what I did:
The night before I prepared the levain by mixing all ingredients in a plastic bowl, covering with pastic and leave to ferment for the night (8 – 12 hours).

The next morning I toasted the sunflower and sesame seeds until they had a nicely brown color. Set aside to cool.
I added the flours, gluten and water to the mixing bowl. Then I grinded the flax seeds until coarse and added them directly to the flours. I mixed until well combined, about 2 minutes. I left it for a long autolyse (1 hour).
Then I added the salt, levain and cooled seeds and would have mixed for 3 minutes in my mixer, but today I knead it all by hand for about 12 minutes until I reached a moderate gluten development.

Bulk Fermentation: transfer the dough to a slightly oiled containers, cover and leave for 1  hour. 

Shaping: I loosely shaped the dough into a batard, covered with a towel and left for 15 minutes to rest. I shaped it into a tighter batard and place it upside down in a floured banneton. I placed it in a plastic bag and closed it.

Proofing: I proofed the loaf for 60 minutes.

Pre heating: I pre heated the oven to 230°C.
Preparing and Baking: When the oven is hot enough I boil water and pour it in a glass bottle with a long neck. I pour some boiling water on the hot stones and quickly close the oven door to keep the steam in the oven.
I place the loaf on parchment on a peel and scored it with one slash lengthwise. Transfer to the oven and quickly slide the loaf on the baking stone. After some minutes I add some more water to get more steam.
I baked the loaf 10 minutes with steam and quickly removed the parchment paper and the steam pan. I baked the loaf for another 25 minutes. Bake the loaf until it is dark brown colored.

Cooling: Let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack.

I send this to Susan’s YeastSpotting and to Bake Your Own Bread


  1. I like the way the owl's markings match the seed mix. And what beautiful bread it made! (Cockroaches, brrrr.... that's one advantage to living in the frozen north)

  2. Thank you Elizabeth, you're right it does match. Cockroaches are easier to live with than ants, we think.