It was on a visit to Germany aged 13 to play in a stage band tour, that I discovered bread could be something other than ‘Mother’s Pride’. For me there was no turning back. The breakfast platter that greeted me on that first morning was mind blowing. There were no sugary cereal packets, just wooden platters of sliced cheeses and baskets of Brötchen (little breakfast rolls). But there in the centre was the centre piece of my future joy. A bunch of alien loaves. Dark, heavy and thick with various seeds sat a vast choice of sourdough breads that had me hooked from my first bite. My delight at eating a little of every loaf was only made more exciting when my temporary German Mutti took me to the local bakery to see the entire selection of breads. This was me aged 12 in the best sweet shop ever but the eye widening treats were breads. Loaves looked like jewels encrusted with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and packed full of plump chewy rye berries. Returning to UK I was forever searching out places that sold German breads but they were a huge disappointment. They were vacuum wrapped sliced nasties. I yearned to return to Germany for the fresh loaves of heaven. In the end the only solution was to learn the art of German bread making.

Here I want to share with you my recipe for creating a hybrid of two tasty German star loaves – Sonnenblumen Vollkorn Brot. Sunflower seed bread with whole rye berries. For this recipe I am using white rye flower that Dove’s Farm mill because it creates a less dark loaf and because for years only dark rye flour was available. Thanks people of Dove Farm.


700g white rye flour
300g rye sourdough starter
400ml water
250g rye berries
300g sunflower seeds
15g salt


Place 500g of the flour, starter and water in a bowl and stir together. This will be quite a stiff mix and the spoon will stand up in it. Cover with cling film and lease somewhere warm for 24 hours.

In a small plastic box or bowl place the rye grains and cover with water. Seal and leave for 24 hours. This doesn’t need to be somewhere warm.

Now drain the rye berries and keep the water for a little treat later. Add the berries, sunflower seeds and the salt to the fermented rye mixture. Add the remaining 200g of white rye flour. Spoon into a long loaf tin lined with oiled silicone paper. Cover with cling film and leave to rise a tad for about 12 – 24 hours. It won’t rise much but it needs to create some gasses inside or the loaf will be too dense once cooked.

Now its bloomed some more smother the surface with sunflower seeds and pop into the oven with a small glass ramekin of water to create a steam bath in the oven. Bake at 240C gas mark 9 for 15 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 180C, gas mark 6 for half an hour.

Take the loaf from the oven and lift from the tin using the silicone paper and then remove the paper too and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to dry out the sides and base. A perfect sourdough loaf to be enjoyed at leisure as it doesn’t go off very quickly.

The crust is crisp and the inside sharp and tangy and full of chewy nutty bite. This is a category A loaf that has me dancing round the kitchen with joy.

Now to that final little baker’s treat. Add a little honey to the rye berry soak water and enjoy a nutty sweet drink. Cheers.

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