Five grain levain with Emmerwheat and increased hydratation

The recipe is once more inspired by the recipe for a ‘Five grain levain’ from Bread: a baker’s book of techniques and recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman. This time, I have used whole grain emmerwheat instead of whole grain wheat and increased the hydration slightly (100% vs 98%). Previous breads I found fantastic on the day of baking and a day later the bread was a bit too dry to my likening.

Like previous breads, this dough isn’t particularly easy to handle and requires a fair amount of fitness when you knead by hand. This dough requires the same amount of work and unlike the recipe with 98% hydration, the dough for this recipe will remain sticky. It just takes some time to get comfortable with sticky dough that keeps sticking to your hands.

Overall formula

Ingredient Weight Percentage
Wheat flour 510gr 75%
Whole grain Emmerwheat flour 155gr 22,8%
Whole grain rye flour 15gr 2,2%
Pumpkin seeds 62gr 9,2%
Sunflower seeds 62gr 9,2%
Barley (whole kernel) 52gr 7,7%
Cracked faxseed 52gr 7,7%
water 680ml 100%
salt 17gr 2,5%
Total 1605gr 236,3%


  • Make the following pre-ferment with 125% hydration and let it ferment for ~ 16hr at 21°C (70F)

Wheat flour pre-ferment

Ingredient Weight Percentage
Wheat flour 179gr 100%
water 224ml 125%
Mature whole-grain-rye-flour sourdough culture (100% hydration) 36gr 20%
Total 439gr 245%
  • Roast the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and barley kernels and mix with the cracked flaxseeds. Add salt and boiling water and stir. Let stand overnight (you can make it together with the pre-ferment)


Ingredient Weight Percentage
Sunflower seeds 62gr 27%
Pumpkin seeds 62gr 27%
Barley (whole kernel) 52gr 23%
Cracked faxseeds 52gr 23%
water 274ml 120%
salt 5gr 2%
Total 507gr 222%
  • Add all the ingredients together and mix the final dough (please keep in mind that the prepared pre-ferment is a little more than you actually need for the recipe). If you, like me, are making the double amount of the recipe and do not own a mixer, prepare for some heavy sweating. This dough is wet. When I made this dough, it was the first time since a very very long time that I found the urge to add flour hard to resist. I did resist and am very happy about it – as always. Did I already say the dough is wet? It really is. So, mix all the ingredients and knead, knead and keep on kneading. For 3200gr expect the dough to require 20-25 mins kneading by hand, which really is an exercise and requires a certain amount of fitness and kneading experience. Without being bold, I think many of my friends would be able to do it. If you make the normal amount of dough (1600gr) the kneading time might be 5 mins less. At some point the dough will become much stronger, less sticky and actually workable – to reach that moment I kneaded already for 20 mins. Desired temp is 24.5 C.

Final dough

Ingredient Weight
Wheat flour 355gr
Whole grain emmerwheat flour 155gr
water 197ml
Salt 12gr
Pre-ferment 379gr
Soaker 507gr
Total 1605gr
  • Bulk fermentation at room temperature (21C) for 2.5hr and give it at least two stretch and folds. You should notice a large increase in strength and decrease in stickyness in the dough during the bulk fermentation.
  • Divide into 800gr loaves or smaller for rolls. Preshape into whatever you feel like.
  • Bench rest for 15mins, depending on the strength of the pre-shape.
  • Shape and proofing. Proofing depends on size of the bread. Loaves scaled at 800gr need about 2.5 – 3hr
  • Preheat oven very hot (I turn mine at max, 275C).
  • Bake with steam at 235C for 10 mins, and lower the temp to 225 for another 35-40 min. When baking on the hearth 30-35 min @ 225C should be enough.

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