Sunflower Seed Bread with Pâte Fermentée

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

This Traditional German Bread’s name is Sonnenblumenbrot (Sonnen = sun; Blumen = flower; Brot = bread). Hearty and aromatic, it is particularly delightful with hard cheeses, peanut butter, various jams and preserves, or just toasted with butter. Malt syrup is thick and flavorful and adds just a wisp of sweetness to the loaf. If unavailable, good honey will do in its place.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 20%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 20 lb 10 kg 2 lb 100 %
Rye Chops 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz 20 %
Sunflower Seeds 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz 20 %
Water 16 lb 8 kg 1 lb, 9.6 oz 80 %
Salt .46 lb .23 kg .7 oz 2.3 %
Yeast .3 lb, fresh .15 kg, fresh .17 oz, instant dry 1.5 %
Malt Syrup .3 lb .15 kg .5 oz 1.5 %
Total Yield 45.06 lb 22.53 kg 4 lb, 7.8 oz 225.3 %


Rye Chops 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz (1⅜ cups) 100 %
Water 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz (1 cup) 125 %
Total 9 lb 4.5 kg 14.4 oz

Pâte Fermentée

Bread Flour 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz ( cups) 100 %
Water 2.6 lb 1.3 kg 4.2 oz (½ cup) 65 %
Salt .08 lb .04 kg .1 oz (½ tsp) 2 %
Yeast .008 lb, fresh .004 kg, fresh ( tsp, instant dry) .2%
Total 6.688 lb 3.344 kg 10.7 oz

Final Dough

Bread Flour 16 lb 8 kg 1 lb,, 9.6 oz ( cups)
Water 8.4 lb 4.2 kg 13.4 oz (1⅝ cups)
Salt .38 lb .19 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Yeast .292 lb, fresh .146 kg, fresh .17 oz, instant dry ( tsp)
Malt Syrup .3 lb .15 kg .5 oz (2 tsp)
Sunflower Seeds 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz (1⅜ cups)
Soaker 9 lb 4.5 kg 14.4 oz (all of above)
Pâte Fermentée 6.688 lb 3.344 kg 10.7 oz (all of above)
Total 45.06 lb 22.53 kg 4 lb, 7.8 oz


  1. Soaker: Pour water over the rye chops and stir to incorporate. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic. In hot weather, the dough’s overall salt can be used to prevent enzymatic activity from commencing. Make the soaker at least 4 hours before mixing the final dough so the grains have enough time to absorb the water and soften. If rye chops are not available, cracked rye can be used. In this case, use boiled water for the soaker to ensure that the cracked rye softens sufficiently. While making the soaker, toast the sunflower seeds, about 10 minutes in a 350°F oven, until they are fragrant.
  2. Pâte Fermentée: Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour and salt, and mix until just smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70°F. Alternatively, remove a portion from a previous mix for use as pâte fermentée. In this case, refer to “Preparing the Pre-Ferment,”, for correct handling of the pre-ferment.
  3. Mixing: Place all the ingredients, including the soaker and the toasted sunflower seeds, but not the pâte fermentée, in the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. As the dough is coming together, add the pâte fermentée in chunks. If necessary, correct the hydration by adding water or flour in small amounts. Turn the mixer to second speed and mix for 3 to 3½ minutes. The dough should be somewhat loose, but with definite dough strength and gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 75°F.
  4. Bulk Fermentation: 2 hours.
  5. Folding: Fold the dough after 1 hour of bulk fermentation.
  6. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces (or make rolls with smaller pieces). Preshape lightly into rounds and place on a lightly floured work surface, seams up. Cover the rounds with plastic. When the dough has relaxed sufficiently (10 to 20 minutes), shape it into tight round loaves. Dip the top side of each loaf into a dampened cloth, then into a sheet pan of raw sunflower seeds (don’t dip the outer surface of the bread into the toasted seeds, since they will be vigorously toasted in the oven). Place the loaves in floured bannetons or onto lightly floured baker’s linen, top side up, and cover with plastic.
  7. Final Fermentation: Approximately 1 to 1½ hours at 75°F.
  8. Baking: Transfer the risen loaves onto the loading conveyor or peel. Because the loaves are topped with sunflower seeds, scoring is a little difficult. A few quick strokes with a straight razor blade or some snips with scissors are sufficient. Presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again. Bake at 460°F. Open the oven vents after the loaves show color, in order to finish the bake in a drying oven. The malt syrup contributes color along with flavor, and the oven temperature can be lowered by 10° or 20°F if the loaves color too quickly. Loaves scaled at 1.5 pounds will bake in approximately 40 minutes.