Monday, February 13, 2012

Sourdough Rye with Sesame, Sunflower and Flax (Dreikornbrot)

I am going to discuss a rather interesting bread along with some of my adaptations. Before I do so, I would like to briefly discuss the history of this bread.  This is another German bread and this one is simply packed with seeds: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds. I have baked breads with all of these seeds in the past, but never all in one loaf. I really like the taste of flax seeds and they are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have a double bond on the third common from the Methyl (carbon compound) end of their chain. Omega-6 fatty acids contain a double bond on the sixth carbon on the methyl group of the chain.  I would like to briefly discuss the pros and cons of these different fats. This actually has nothing to do with bread.  However, because I am a nerd, a former chemistry tutor, and it's my blog, I will proceed.

Typically, omega-3 fatty acids are associated with reducing inflammation, while omega-6 fatty acids tend to increase inflammation. As a person who is studying to be a dietitian, I would like to stress the importance of having BOTH of these fatty acids in your diet.  Take the following example: There is an Eskimo who is forty two years old.  He is rather healthy  and of normal weight and he is in good shape. The bottom line is that he has a rather unremarkable health chart. His diet is seafood-based and he eats lots of fish like halibut and mackerel. While walking to his kayak, he slips on the ice and skins his knee pretty badly. He thinks nothing of it, and just keeps going. When he arrives at his kayak, he lifts his pant leg to see how badly he has been scraped.  There are a couple of serious scrapes and they will not stop bleeding. This is because he has no omega-6 fatty acids in his blood.  His blood is so "anti-inflammatory" that the process of clotting is virtually non-existent. If a person were to eat a diet whose sole fat was omega-6 fatty acids, he would probably have the opposite problem. The blood would have a tendency to clot, but he might not be as healthy and the tissue would procbably repair slowly. There is a rather complex inflammatory process in the body that normally occurs when there is a balance of omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids. 
I told you this quirky little tale to stress the importance of eating a balanced diet, one with both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  Sorry, but I could not pass up this valuable teaching moment. Foods that are rich in omega-3's include walnuts, flax seed (freshly ground, not whole) and deep cold water fish. Foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids include most vegetable oils, especially safflower oil. I know it is stressed in the news and in health magazines how important it is to eat omega-3 fatty acids, I just want to stress that it works both ways: too much of anything can be very harmful to the homeostasis of your body. Now it's time to remove my lab coat; take off my Jerry Garcia tie; and put on my dough stained jeans and my hoodie which I could care less about.  It's time to dust my hands with flour and get to the task at hand: Let's make some BREAD!

This bread called for light rye flour. Since I do not have light rye flour, and since I grind my own flour, I simply used whole rye flour. To lighten this, I reduced the percentage of rye flour in the mix from 40% of flour weight to 20% of flour weight. I replaced this 20% with bread flour. The sourdough build also called for light rye flour, but I used whole rye flour. Had I not made this change, I think that this bread would have been a lot heavier.  This probably would have been fine, but since the dough did come out very light I was able to bake an extra loaf that was more in the form of a peasant bread. It was similar to ciabatta, so the dough became very open and developed a wonderful crust.

Since this dough was very wet, I laid out a substantial layer of semolina 'wheels' on the peel and also plenty of flower on top of the loaf. I shaped the remaining dough into a loose "cylinder" and placed it in a pan. This formula also calls for a layer of sunflower seeds on top of the loaf.  Because I baked one free-form loaf which was coated with flour I was only able to coat the dough in the loaf pan with sunflower seeds (you will see this in the photos below).

This bread also used a unique mixing technique. The dough was mixed on third speed for 8 minutes and then it was allowed to rest, covered, for ten minutes.  After this rest, it was mixed again on second speed for 5 minutes. Leader instructs the baker to do this, but he gives no explanation for doing it. I do not think it was necessary for me to do this because of the reduction in rye flour, but I chose to follow his instructions anyway.

It is important for the seeds to be soaked over night. Simply place all of the sesame, flax and sunflower seeds in a small bowl and mix them with 1/2 cup of room temperature water. Leave this to sit overnight uncovered. This allows the seeds to absorb the water and form an almost gelatinous mass. This helps to reduce the violent tendencies that seeds have towards gluten, and allows for these seeds to be incorporated in the early stage of the mix rather than at the end.  (which I have used in many of my other posts) For a more detailed description, look at the post on Olive Levain from last year).

I thought this bread turned out well.  Next time I will not reduce the amount of rye flour so much, perhaps only by five or ten percent at the most. I brought this bread to a potluck, and it was well received, although it did not totally disappear! It was not my best loaf, but it sure looked wonderful when it came out of the oven. I especially liked the loaf I shaped by hand. One person commented that it needed more salt. If you are American, and you are used to restaurant food then you might want to add salt, but I thought it was great just the way it was.

I had to slice this bread with a Henkel knife which is not serrated. It made it interesting, but I managed okay.

I am sorry the comment box has been difficult, I hope that it will be fixed shortly, but keep on trying.

Great oven spring, I wish I took a photo right after I removed it from the oven
Here are the Photos:
The sunfower seeds on top was a brilliant addition

Bake ON


  1. You need to look at the newest research on omega 3s. Although flaxseed is high in omega 3s, it is all ALA. We should be getting our omega-3 in the form of DHA and EPA, but predominantly in DHA. Check out Artemis P Simopoulos and her research.
    Bake on!!

    1. Knead is a very strong word!
      Thanks for the update, I will look into this research!

  2. What's "Oven Spring"?

    1. Oven spring is the lift that a loaf gets during the first few minutes in the oven, this is do to the yeast rapid release of CO2 due to exposure to heat. You have actually inspired me to add one more layer of depth to my blog. I am going to start to bold the words in my posts that reference my glossary. I believe oven spring is defined in the glossary.
      Keep on Reading

  3. Vice-Grippin' Artistry! Thanks for putting me on Mr. Wolfe. You've got a serious talent and the passion shows through the post. I can't wait catch up on everything and I'm already ready for the new post.

    Keep it up!!!!!