Five grain levain with rye

This is my 2nd try and slightly altered version of a recipe from the book Bread: a baker’s book of techniques and recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman. The results of my 1st attempt of this recipe you can find here: five-grain-levain.

In this version I replace all the whole grain wheat flour (25% of total flour weight) for whole grain rye flour. This makes the taste much richer and a bit more ‘wet’. Similar to my first time I replaced the oats for rolled oats, the cracked rye for pumkin seeds and roasted the sunflower and pumkin seeds. The first time I made this recipe I opted for soaking 2hr with boiling water, this time I soaked overnight in cold water. Like my previous try, I went for the pure-sourdough version (thus without the yeast) and extended the bulk fermentation to 4hr and the final proofing for about 2.5hr. I did not notice any difference due to different soaking times of the seeds.

Overall formula

Ingredient Weight Percentage
Wheat flour 510gr 75%
Whole grain rye flour 170gr 25,0%
Pumpkin seeds 62gr 9,2%
Sunflower seeds 62gr 9,2%
Oats 52gr 7,7%
Flaxseed 52gr 7,7%
water 666ml 98%
salt 17gr 2,5%
Total 151gr 234,3%


  • 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%
  • Either make the following soaker at the same time as the pre-ferment or just 2hr before mixing the dough using boiling water. Roast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds, they release really a lot of taste when you do so.


Ingredient Weight Percentage
Sunflower seeds 62gr 27%
Pumpkin seeds 62gr 27%
Oats 52gr 23%
Flaxseeds 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, it is even more wet than the version with whole grain wheat flour. Mix all the ingredients and knead, knead and keep on kneading. For 3200gr expect the dough to require 20 mins kneading by hand (slightly shorter than the version with whole grain wheat), which really is an exercise and requires a certain amount of fitness and kneading experience. Without being bold, I think many of my friends wouldn’t 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 17 mins. Desired temp is 24.5 C.

Final dough

Ingredient Weight
Wheat flour 355gr
Whole grain rye flour 155gr
water 183ml
Salt 12gr
Pre-ferment 379gr
Soaker 507gr
Total 1591gr
  • Bulk fermentation at room temperature (21C) for 4hrs (probably 2.5hr is enough) 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. From 3200gr of dough I made two round loaves 800gr each and 16 small French rolls and buns, 100gr each.
  • 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 3 hr. For small rolls, 2hrs is sufficient.
  • 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 (for loaves 800gr) or 20min for 100gr rolls.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.