I had a bunch of good, ripe 100% starter left over from a batch of oatmeal sesame bread that I made last weekend. I wanted a seedy bread, but I finished the last of the sunflower seeds a couple of breads ago, and haven't got enough items on the mail-order shopping list to get some more yet. So I thought I'd just invent something. Some wholemeal, but not too much. Some seeds; flax, poppy and sesame. How hard can that be?

Not at all.

I worked backwards from a finished dough weight of about 2.2 kg (for two loaves at 800gm and one at 600gm) and 65% hydration, using the 354gm of 100% white starter on hand and adding the seeds dry rather than from a soaker simply because flax seed in a soaker is a recipe for mucilage up the wazoo.1 Here are my quantities:


354gm ripe 100% hydration white starter
611gm water (788gm for 65%, minus the 177gm in the starter)
303gm wholemeal flour (25% of the total flour weight)
732gm Manitoba flour (75% of the total flour weight minus the 177gm in the starter)
20gm salt (10%; I prefer less salt in seedier breads)
75gm flax seeds
75gm sesame seeds
50gm poppy seeds (so seeds are about 10% overall)

So total flour is 1212gm, total water 788gm, seeds 200gm.


Mix the water into the starter first, then add the salt, seeds and flours. Stir roughly with a wooden spoon to get everything more or less mixed in, then tip out on the counter and get everything well mixed in and incorporated using your preferred method. I've developed a kind of press and fold technique, scooping up the dry stuff with a scraper and dumping it on top of the pressed out dough before folding. A couple of those, and everything coheres well enough to give it a quick knead, and then turn it into the cleaned, lightly oiled bowl.

Bulk ferment for 90 minutes, with a stretch and fold every 30 minutes. Shape and allow to rise before baking with steam in a hot oven (230℃ 450℉). After 20 minutes, remove the steam source, turn the heat down to 210℃ (410℉) and bake a further 22 mins, or until done.

flaxseed loaves

Allow to cool fully before slicing.

crumb of flaxseed loaf

I'm sharing this via Yeastspotting not because I think it is such a brilliant recipe (although it is delicious) but to encourage people to experiment. Once you've baked a few different kinds of bread, and got the hang of a few different techniques, it is actually quite easy to extemporise within the rules. And of course, if you make it up, who can say whether it is right or wrong?

  1. 2020-06-20: Why did I think that was a bad thing, back then? 

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