Sunday, April 16, 2023

BBB - It's The Seeds

Each month the Bread Baking Babes bake a new bread and post on the 16th. There are seemingly endless bread recipes out there. This month we are baking a delicious seeded ciabatta, thanks to Cathy of Bread Experience.  She said, "My version is adapted from the seeded ciabatta and buckwheat ciabatta formulas from The Larousse Book of Bread Recipes to Make at Home by Eric Kayser, and includes an overnight poolish similar to the method in The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking from The French Culinary Institute.". The recipe includes a poolish, which mellows overnight, seeds, and a combination of different flours. I've baked seeded breads many times, but this is the first time that the recipe called for roasting the seeds first and immediately covering them with water to soak for a few hours. I loved the way the kitchen smelled after all the seeds were roasted!

I used four different seeds and roasted them separately since they took different amounts of time. The poppy seeds needed the least time, followed by the sesame seeds. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds both took about the same amount of time and it was more than double what the smaller seeds needed. I'm not going to give a time because ovens vary in their roasting abilities and how hot they get so you need to use your nose when you roast your own. You should just be able to smell the seeds giving off an aroma when you pull them from the oven. You can also see if they have browned a bit with the sesame and sunflower. Harder to do with the pumpkin seeds and impossible with the black poppy seeds. Be sure to use freshly purchased seeds for the best flavor.

The bread was also interesting to make. I did the poolish with some instant yeast and whole wheat flour since my sourdough starter is no more. I also made an additional poolish with all-purpose flour and water (and I subtracted that amount of both from the recipe for the next part to keep the proportions true) and then stirred that into the poolish which had sat overnight. I gave the new mixture another couple of hours to mellow and for the yeasties to grow before doing the rest.

I had a difficult time mixing the next seemed too dry... and I don't think it was because I used oat flour for some of my flour I added a bit more water so that I could actually combine the ingredients fully...through adding the olive oil. Later I had to add additional flour to make up for that extra water, but it did eventually turn into a nice dough, although a damp one. If I were to do it again, I think I would put things into the bowl in a different order.

The last thing that was an issue was totally my fault. I used a pie tin for the ice tray on the top shelf, but didn't check to make sure it was watertight. It had a small leak, so some of the bread had standing water next to it on the baking sheet. It took a bit of doing to finish baking those wet parts without drying out the rest.

The final part was tasting the bread. I was very happy with the amount of seeds and the flavor and the crust, too. It makes superb toast! I think that each ciabatta was enough bread for two people, so next time I might divide it into eight pieces. This was a lot of fun to make (although nerve wracking at the end when I discovered the unbaked leaked on part) and delicious to eat. Do give it a try!

If you do bake this, become a Bread Baking Babe Buddy by emailing Cathy your URL and a photo, plus a brief description of your April 29th. You'll get a badge similar to the one below.

Be sure to check out the other Babes sites, too, to see how they made this delightful recipe their own.

Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta

Makes: 4 loaves (~280 grams each)


45 grams water

45 grams whole wheat flour (such as red fife or spelt)

15 grams sourdough starter or a pinch of dried yeast

Final Dough:

400 grams all-purpose flour

150 grams whole wheat flour (I used spelt)

350-385 grams water, divided

Poolish all of the above

½ tsp. instant yeast

10 grams salt

30 grams extra virgin olive oil

90 grams mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, fennel, sesame, millet, poppy, etc.)

½ cup water for soaking the seeds

1 cup ice cubes for steam



The evening before you plan to make the final dough, blend the whole wheat flour, water, and sourdough starter (or pinch of instant yeast) using a wooden spoon or dough whisk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper or spatula, cover, and set aside at warm room temperature (75 degrees F. / 25 degrees C.) for 12 to 14 hours.

Roast the seeds:

The evening before, or 2-3 hours before you prepare the final dough, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spread the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes.  Depending on the type of seeds you choose, it could take more or less time.  Watch the seeds so they don’t burn.

Immediately tip the roasted seeds into a small bowl and cover with ¼ to ½ cup of water. Allow the seeds to soak for 2 hours.  Drain the excess water before incorporating into the dough.

Final Dough:

You can use a stand mixer to mix this dough, but isn’t necessary. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flours and 325 grams water.  Cover, let rest 15 minutes.

Add the poolish, along with the salt and instant yeast and mix until fully incorporated.  The dough should be slightly sticky.

Drizzle in the olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in the seeds. Add in additional water, a little at a time, if necessary and continue to mix until you have a smooth and elastic dough.

Form the dough into a ball, place back in the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

After the first hour, uncover and fold the dough. Recover and let rest for 1 hour.

Dust your work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (~280 grams each).  Fold each piece over itself and stretch into a log.  Cover the dough pieces with a damp towel and let rest 15 minutes.

Take one piece of dough. Leave the other pieces covered. Using the palm of your hand, flatten it very gently.  Fold a third of the dough (long side) toward the center and press along the edge with your fingers or the side of your hand. Fold the other long edge towards the center and press the seam closed with your fingers.  Continue shaping the other 3 loaves the same way.

If desired, coat the loaves with additional seeds (not soaked).  Place the seeds on a plate. Brush or spray the loaves with water and press them into the seeds to evenly coat the tops.  Transfer the loaves seamside down to a parchment lined baking sheet or seamside up on a baker’s couche heavily dusted with flour.  (Although I enjoy using a baker’s couche, you don’t really need it for these loaves.  The parchment works great.)

Cover with a damp cloth and let the loaves proof for 1 hour.

During the final proof, preheat the oven to 460 degrees F. with a baking stone on the lower middle rack and a steam pan or iron skillet on the top rack.

Transfer the loaves (on the baking sheet) to the baking stone and immediately place 1 cup of ice cubes in the steam pan. 

Bake the loaves for 25 -30 minutes, rotating the pan partway through for even baking.  The loaves should sound hollow when thumped lightly on the bottom.

Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Brush lightly with olive oil.  


  1. Two poolishes, that's cool! I haven't tried that. And oat flour. You're ciabatta loaves look great! The seeds really do make this bread.

  2. It sounds like quite an adventure! Your seed roasting advice is wonderful.

  3. My hydrated flour mix was also dry and I added a couple tbsp water. I had fresh ground flour in mine which might really soak up the water. But I loved having the high hydration at the end, I do so love that shiny textured crumb. You have a wonderful seed mix in your loaves! And you are right, they did smell wonderful toasting.

  4. Your bread looks perfect. I really like the idea of adding oat flour so that the crumb will stay light coloured.

  5. Cathy, the second poolish was because the first looked so dry. I wanted a robust poolish since I wasn't using a sourdough starter.
    Karen, roasting the seeds made a big difference in the flavor...and the fragrance was great.
    I also love your shiny textured crumb Kelly.
    Elizabeth, I was mostly using different flours I had on hand, but oat flour is a love of mine.

  6. 4 different seeds! I bet the kitchen smelled fantastic!