Sonnenblumenbrot – German Sunflower Seed Bread

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread Crumb

Since fall is in full swing and turning my place into a sauna is starting to make sense, we continue with more bread baking. Our most recent exploit had the oven cranked up at maximum temperature but today’s featured recipe bakes at a balmy 460ºF with steam. Lots of steam. So much steam that I had to keep a safe distance from the oven lest nether regions get soft-boiled.

The result is a crusty boule that crackles audibly when pulled from the oven. Bespeckled with toasted sunflower seeds and coarse rye grains, nutty flavors thoroughly permeate the loaf and give it its distinctive character.

Jeffrey Hamelman suggests pairing sonnenblumenbrot with hard cheeses, peanut butter, jams, or butter. My pick? None of the above. A lightly toasted slice is enough to satisfy my simple tastes.

recipe adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog

German Sunflower Seed Bread

makes one boule weighing approximately 1 1/4 pounds  / 567 grams

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread Cracked Rye
Cracked rye and raw sunflower seeds.

For the Pâte Fermentée (Pre-fermented Dough):

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
bread flour, unbleached         1/2 cup           2.13          60
water, at room temperature        3 tbsp          1.4           40
instant yeast                 pinch
kosher salt                   pinch                .33           1

Pâte Fermentée (Pre-fermented Dough) Instructions:

Mix the pâte fermentée ingredients until a shaggy ball of dough is formed. Knead the pâte fermentée for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place the pâte fermentée in a bowl and cover. Leave at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.

For the Soaker:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
rye chops                       1/2 cup           2.13          60
water, at room temperature      1/3 cup           2.67          76


  • I used cracked rye instead of rye chops. Cracked rye absorbs water at a slower rate than rye chops, so use boiling instead of room temperature water to fully soften the grains.

Soaker Instructions:

Mix the soaker ingredients until evenly hydrated. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 4 hours.

Final Dough Formula:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
all of the soaker
bread flour, unbleached           2 cups          8.5          242
water, at room temperature      1/2 cup           4.5          127
kosher salt                       2 tsp            .2            6
instant yeast                     2 tsp
malt syrup or honey               1 tsp
sunflower seeds, toasted        1/2 cup           2.13          60
all of the pâte fermentée, cut into small pieces

sunflower seeds, raw, for topping

Final Dough Instructions:

Mix             Mix all of the ingredients, except the pâte fermentée
                pieces, until a shaggy dough is formed. Add the pâte
                fermentée pieces and continue mixing until evenly

Knead           6 to 8 minutes

Rest            5 minutes

Knead           1 minute to further strengthen the gluten. The dough
                will still be a bit sticky.

Ferment #1      1 hour at room temperature

Stretch and Fold

Ferment #1      1 hour at room temperature

Preshape        loose rounds

Rest            15 to 20 minutes

Shape and Top   shape into a tight boule and top with raw sunflower

Preheat Oven    460ºF/238ºC

Final Proof     60 to 90 minutes at room temperature, seeded side up

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread Proofed
Proofed sunflower seed bread dough.

Score           Try to keep as much of the sunflower seeds intact.

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread Scored
A surgeon I am not.

Steam           2 cups of boiling water poured into a heavy steam
                pan, preferably cast iron

Bake            Bake at 460ºF/238ºC for about 40 minutes, rotating
                the pan halfway through baking to brown the loaves
                evenly and let the steam escape.

Cool            At least 1 hour

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread
The crust crackles as it cools.

Sonnenblumenbrot Sunflower Seed Bread Top
How do you slice without scattering sunflower seeds all over?

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28 Responses to “Sonnenblumenbrot – German Sunflower Seed Bread”

  1. Rosa says:

    Wonderful! Very professional looking! I bet it taste heavenly with some good cheese!



  2. Jesse says:

    What a gorgeous bread!

  3. kat says:

    Yum, I’m imagining it with a good Wisconsin cheddar

  4. Andrea says:

    Oh, that looks great! If I were more confident in bread baking I’d give it a try since my apartment could really use the extra heat. The landlord always refuses to turn the heat on until we’ve reached below freezing!

  5. Caitlin says:

    A balmy 460? Yeah, we’ll pretend that my silly apartment oven can actually get that high… I agree with Kat though – this would be fabulous with some local WI cheddar.

  6. Fearless Kitchen says:

    This looks delightful! The steam is really interesting – we haven’t done much with steam-type breads.

  7. Nicisme says:

    Now that is one beautiful looking loaf, this insides are perfect and that crust…

  8. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Those are beauties — a perfect fall bread!

  9. Jackie says:

    Fantastic looking crust and crumb! I’d love to have some with a bit of cheese and hearty, thick soup.

  10. grace says:

    looks like it’d make a fierce peanut butter and jelly sandwich. and i mean fierce in a good way. :)

  11. PG says:

    looks wonderful! the crumb and the crust. yes, i don’t mind a slice of this with some plain butter maybe….

  12. Lori says:

    When I was in Poland, the sunflower seed bread was the best. I love it, wished I could find it here. I tried to find a recipe for it but to no avail. The only thing that coems close to it is the German bread (they are kind of square) in the grocery store. Which really are not bad, not great either. Your recipe looks like a winner. I will have to try it.

  13. Shaheen says:

    Sunflower seeds,coarse rye grains and a nutty flavor? I’ve got a strong feeling I’m going to like it. Bookmarking it. *sigh* an ever increasing list.

  14. zorra says:

    Yummie, I would like to have a piece of it right now!

  15. Aparna says:

    As usual, your breads are something else.
    Love the crust and sunflower seeds.
    I don’t get rye here and not many other kinds of flours either, so what do you suggest I can use to substitute rye for this bread?

  16. Elizabeth says:

    This looks wonderful. And I know what you mean about simple toast. It’s the best, isn’t it?

    (Rye chops? I gather it is coarsely ground rye. Is it coarsely ground along the lines of corn meal?)

  17. javapot says:

    Gorgeous. Can i ask whether you put the heavy steam pan at the top rack or bottom rack? Wondering which is the proper way? tks

  18. javapot says:

    So how did you slice without scattering the seeds all over?? :)

  19. sweetbird says:

    Umm…so steam scares the hell out of me.

  20. YeastSpotting November 7, 2008 | Wild Yeast says:

    [...] Sonnenblumenbrot – German Sunflower Seed Bread ~ Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté [...]

  21. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    What’s with my RSS that I could miss this!?!
    This is stunning Jude!
    Clearly I need to spend more time with Jeff Hamelman and you!

  22. Jeremy says:

    Nice as always!

  23. Caitlin – Mmm Wisconsin cheddar.

    Lori – Is there a bit of rye in the Polish version, too?

    Aparna – Some cracked wheat should work quite nicely to replace the rye.

    Elizabeth – It’s a bit more coarse than cornmeal — rye chops are a bit like rice grains cut in half.

    Javapot – I prefer putting the steam pan in the bottom rack. Although in some books, the steam pan is placed in top. I guess it doesn’t matter much once the oven door is closed.

  24. Lonny says:

    I used to have this bread in Austria with butter and honey, and it was divine! I’m delighted to finally find a good recipe :D

  25. Kürbiskernbrot (Pumpkin Seed Bread) « A Bread A Day says:

    [...] (Pumpkin Seed Bread) Adapted from Apple Pie, Patis, & Pâté Makes 1 small [...]

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