Finding a better vocabulary for tastes and smells is definitely something I need to do, because faced with putting the sensation of baked kalonji into words, I fall back on US Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography : “I know it when I see it”. And I like it. Kalonji, not hard-core pornography. I’ve used it before in bread but not lately and not kneaded into the dough. So, with a bunch of ripe 100% starter at hand, I thought I would do an experiment.


530 gm ripe 100% starter, made with tenero flour.

100 gm wholewheat flour (10%)

100 gm whole rye flour (10%)

15 gm salt (1.5%)

40 gm kalonji (4%) I would normally aim at 5% but had only 40 gm.

25 gm olive oil (2.5%) because I wanted a little of the softness

535 gm tenero forte 0 flour (taking total flour weight to 100 gm (100%)

400 gm water (taking total hydration to 66.5%)


Add the water, wholewheat flour, rye flour, salt and kalonji to the starter and mix to incorporate. Now add the oilive oil and the rest of the white flour, stir until mostly mixed, and tip out onto the counter. Work in the rest of the flour, kneading and folding as you go. The rye makes to dough a little sticky, but it will quickly develop some structure. Knead quickly for about a minute after it has all come together properly and then return to a bowl to rise. Cover with a plate and bulk ferment for approximately 2 hours. Turn the dough out and knead again, quite rapidly, for about 30 seconds. Return to the bowl and rest again for about an hour.

Turn the dough out, degas gently, divide in two or three and shape loaves.

At this point I refrigerated the shaped loaves overnight, or you could leave them out until proved, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 230°C and prepare to use steam.

Slash the loaves and place them in the oven, with steam. Bake for about 22 minutes. Then remove the steam, turn the temperature down to 220°C and bake for a further 22 minutes. Test the loaves for doneness and if done remove and place on a wire grill to cool.

There are some more pictures here on Flickr.

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