Breads of Europe | Sonnenblumenbrot (sunflower seed bread)


Sunflower bread has always been associated with countries where rye flour and sourdough are part of the culture. The traditional bread was made with soaked coarse or cracked rye, rye flour, spelt or wholewheat flour, barley malt syrup, sourdough and sunflower seeds. Gradually the amount of rye flour in the formula has been reduced, strong white flour has been favoured to spelt and wholewheat, yeast has been introduced and sourdoughs have been day-before pre-ferments.

This is a Swiss version, made with spelt flour and two pre-ferments, a gerstel leaven and a rye poolish.

  • 700 g spelt bread flour, t1050
  • 520 ml buttermilk / kefir / yoghurt
  • 200 g white spelt flour, t630
  • 75 g sunflower seeds soaked in 75 ml mineral water overnight
  • 50 g dry gerstel leaven (reconstituted with 50 ml mineral water)
  • 60 ml sunflower oil
  • 60 g rye-mineral water poolish, from 2-day old mix kept in refrigetator (see Baking Bread the German Way)
  • 30 g yeast
  • 20 g salt
  • 15 g vanilla sugar
  • 2 tsp water, for brushing
  • 1 tsp barley malt syrup

Whisk sugar into buttermilk / kefir / yoghurt, add yeast and leave to froth, about 30 minutes.

Sieve flours into a large bowl, add leaven, salt and half of the seeds, the yeast mixture, malt and poolish. Form into a dough, fold out onto a floured surface, divide into two pieces, knead both pieces alternatively for a total of 20 minutes. Add 30 g of oil to each piece of dough, knead each dough for a further 5 minutes. Bring both doughs together, knead for another 5 minutes.

Desired dough temperature 26°C.

Leave to rise for two hours, degas.

Cut dough into two 600 g pieces and into nine 60 g pieces.

Place the large pieces in greased loaf tins. Roll the small pieces into balls, place on a greased tray.

Brush the surface of each dough with water, sprinkle with remaining sunflower seeds.

Leave the rolls to rise for 90 minutes and the loaves to rise for 120 minutes.

Preheat to 220°C. Boil 500 ml water, pour into a bowl, place in the bottom of the oven.

Place rolls in oven, turn heat down to 180°C and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack. 

Increase oven heat to 220ºC.

Place loaves in oven, turn heat down to 180°C and bake for 75 minutes. Leave to cool.