Sunflower seed rye sourdough

It’s still cold outside in Belgium, and the birds are feasting upon endless supplies of seeds we feed them. Lastly, I was thinking, why would I want to give away all those jummy seeds and let the birds grow fat and lazy? I sure could use some sunflower seeds myself, not only to toast and sprinkle upon salads, but also to process into a hearthy rye sourdough bread! Thanks to Mr. Hamelman’s book, I found and altered a formula to my liking.

Baked sunflower rye bread

Baked sunflower rye bread

This is not a heavyweight rye bread as the seeds in the dough also weigh down the bread during the two fermentation phases. It’s roughly 30% wholerye and the rest is all-purpose wheat flour. This could of course be substituted for spelt flour, as long as it’s not wholewheat. As you can see on the pictures, the bread did rise quite well – also partially thanks to my very active rye sour (= starter).

The recipe


  • 200gr wholerye flour
  • 160gr water
  • 10gr rye starter at 100% hydratation

As you might notice, that’s a very low amount of starter compared to other breads. I was a bit worried that the yeast might not have enough time to lift the bread but I gave the sourdough 15 hours at the kitchen table and it was just fine.


  • 167gr rye flakes (like muesli) – I didn’t have these at that moment so used oatmeal
  • 167gr water

If you’re using flakes that are not very soft, consider using boiling water.

Final dough

  • 633gr bread flour
  • 150gr toasted sunflower seeds
  • 470gr water
  • 20gr coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
  • sourdough & soaker



What’s the baking procedure?

More or less the same as I employ on every bread. I did try to use a bulk fermentation of 3 hours and a final proofing of 5 hours in the fridge. The final proofing time would be on the low side considering the low temperature so I let the bread warm up for 1 to 2 hours before baking. I normally bake straight from the fridge – this was not the case here.

What’s typical about this bread?

I found the bread to be extremely tasty due to the toasted seeds. I think if you did not toast the sunflower seeds the taste might have been a bit more mild. I love the combination of the tangy rye sourdough and the seeds. I think I’ll miss the presence of seeds if I were to bake a simple rye bread next week!

The bread did rice extremely well in the oven, thanks to the high amount of white flour, but partially also thanks to the right amount of rye sour and unusual proofing time. Something to try again next time!


Also published on YeastSpotting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.