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Jan 5, 2016

60 Percent Kamut Sourdough Bread

60 Percent Kamut Sourdough Bread

I was really nervous about making this Kamut Sourdough bread. Kamut is a grain I have never baked with before and I wasn't sure what to expect.

Current nutritional fads notwithstanding, I've been intrigued with using heirloom grains in my breads, and impulsively bought a bag of Kamut berries a while ago.

60 Percent Kamut Sourdough Bread

"What is this Kamut?" you ask. It's actually khorasan wheat, an ancient grain, and a traditional grain of Egypt. It's part of the durum wheat family, and is also grown in parts of Turkey and Italy. Kamut is a name trademarked by a company in Montana, where it is grown, along with North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. It is 100% organic. The berries can be cooked and used in soups, stews, pilafs, and in grain salads. The flour can be substituted one-for-one for whole grain flour in bread, pizza, and flatbread.

This whole grain has a faintly sweet, nutty flavor, and is higher in protein but lower in gluten than modern wheat. It has a golden color, but not quite as yellow as semolina. I added just a little vital wheat gluten to this bread to add some elasticity, but it's really not necessary.

60 Percent Kamut Sourdough Bread

I used the WonderMill (which is awesome for grinding your own flour) to grind the grains. If you don't have a grain mill (and why not?), Kamut is also available as a flour.  While the dough was fairly sticky, it was pretty easy to work with and didn't excessively stick to my hands. Shaping the final loaves was really easy, and they plopped out of the brotforms without sticking.

60 Percent Kamut Sourdough Bread

This loaf also includes bread flour and whole wheat flour, as well as a 100% hydration sourdough starter.

Bread geek talk alert (as if I haven't already been geeky enough)!

I keep my starter in the refrigerator because I typically only bake bread on the weekends. This starter is 100 percent hydration with all purpose flour and a small amount of rye. Depending on the bread I'm baking, I might feed it with some whole wheat flour as well. In this case, because I wanted to make sure my starter was very active, I fed it in the evening two days before mixing the final dough, and fed it again the next evening. The next morning, I fed it a third time to make the leaven that I would use in the dough. If you feed your starter regularly, just follow the instructions for making the leaven in the recipe.

The recipe calls for the "stretch and fold" method. To do this, you dip you hand in water and pull on the edge of the dough to stretch it out, and then fold it over itself. You then turn the bowl and repeat. You'll typically do this on all four "sides" of the dough.

Note: You will not use all of the leaven. Add it to your reserved starter. I usually discard some of my older starter and add the newest leaven.

This bread is really tasty, and was a huge hit with the members of my family who aren't necessarily big fans of whole wheat bread. The flavor is mild and faintly sweet. I couldn't stop cutting off slices of this bread and slathering them with salted butter. I'll definitely be making this bread again.

60 Percent Kamut Sourdough Bread Recipe

Adapted from Tartine Book No. 3 by Chad Robertson. The book also includes pastry recipes using whole grains. It's a gorgeous book. 

Yield: 2 loaves



2 to 3 tablespoons of mature sourdough starter, any mixture is fine
100 grams whole wheat flour
100 grams unbleached bread or all purpose flour
200 grams lukewarm water (about 85 degrees F)

Final Dough

600 grams whole grain Kamut flour
300 grams unbleached bread flour.
2 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten (optional) plus enough whole wheat flour to reach a total weight of 100 grams
70 grams wheat germ
850 grams (3 1/2 cups) lukewarm water
150 grams of the leaven
25 grams fine sea salt


To Make the Leaven:

  1. In the morning before baking day, mix the leaven ingredients in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap. 
  2. Let rest for 4 to 6 hours, until bubbly. It is ready when a piece of the leaven floats in a glass of water. If it doesn't float, wait a couple of more hours. 

Final Dough:

  1. In the afternoon before baking day, in a large bowl or dough rising bucket, whisk together the flours, vital wheat gluten, and wheat germ. 
  2. In another bowl, mix the water and leaven. 
  3. Pour the water and leaven mixture into the flour mixture, and mix by hand until all of the flour is hydrated. Cover and let rest in a warm spot (about 80 to 85 degrees F) for 30 to 60 minutes. 
  4. Add the salt to the dough, and alternatively fold and pinch the salt into the dough until it is fully incorporated. 
  5. Cover the dough and let rise in the warm spot. Stretch and fold the dough six times, every 30 minutes. Let the dough rest until it has increase in volume by about 30 percent. The total bulk rise time, including the stretches and folds, should be about 4 to 5 hours. The dough will not feel as billowy as "regular" dough that has gone through this process. 
  6. Gently pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half with a bench knife. 
  7. Form each half into a round by tucking the sides of the dough under itself with the bench knife. Cup your hands on the back of the dough ball and pull the dough toward you to create surface tension. Turn the dough with your hands, and pull it toward you again. When you have a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat with the second piece of dough. 
  8. Dust two bannetons, brotforms, or towel lined bowls with a mixture of wheat and rice flour. 
  9. For the final shaping, turn the dough ball over, and fold it over itself from all four "sides." Flip the ball back over and pull it toward you as before to increase the surface tension. 
  10. Place the dough into the banneton/bowl, seam side up, and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the second piece of dough. 
  11. Refrigerate overnight, about 12 to 14 hours. 
  12. The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator, place two empty Dutch ovens in the oven, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If you have only one Dutch oven, you can bake the loaves in sequence. 
  13. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough. 
  14. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. Place a piece of heavy duty parchment paper over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, plate and all, and lift off the basket. Slash the top of the dough with a lame or a sharp knife. Lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Place the lid back onto the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. 
  15. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes more. 
  16. Uncover the loaf and bake for about another 15 minutes, until the interior of the loaf reaches 205 to 210 degrees F. I usually move the loaf to a baking sheet after the first 30 minutes to prevent burning on the bottom. 
  17. Cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Karen, I love your bread geekiness! That is how bread geeks such as myself learn. This kamut bread is just gorgeous. I've thrown grains and seeds into my bread recipes but haven't milled any into flour. Amazing!

  2. Thank you for posting. Your bread looks yummy and I am putting it on my to do list of breads.

  3. Karen your bread looks gorgeous! So cool you ground the grains yourself. it was a fun challenge to break out comfort boundaries.

    1. Thanks Evelyne! I feel like such a nerd but I love it!

  4. Yes! I love that you used kamut and that this has your sourdough starter. I can say that I have been craving a piece of this since I saw your post and I have to get my starter going again just for gorgeous loaves like this! Happy New Year, Karen!!

    1. Thank you Lora! Happy New Year to you my friend!

  5. You really are the queen of breads, and I am super impressed that you milled your own flour. Both your photos and bread are amazing, and I really consider myself to be very fortunate to be learning more about bread baking from this amazing group.

    1. You are too sweet! I got that mill by contributing posts to their site. Win-win! It is an amazing group, isn't it?

  6. See? You ARE the Queen of Breads! Told ya!

    very nice loaf, Karen... I' ve been taking better care of my starter lately, so I guess some sourdough loaves will be popping up in our kitchen soon

  7. Did you change the Tartine recipe to use more leaven? Book # 3 asks for only 15 gm leaven.

    1. My copy calls for 150 grams.... anyway, that's how much I used.

  8. This seems to be about 94% hydration? (900 g flour and 850 g water even before the levain is added)? Thanks!

    1. I have it at 80 percent with the added whole wheat and wheat germ.


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