Tag Archives: Bethesdabasics

Mick’s 5-Seed and Spelt Sourdough

5 Seed Spelt Sourdough Mick Hartley Bethesdabakers

It’s been too long…

It’s been too long since I made a seedy loaf and anxious to remedy that I grabbed Monsieur Hartley’s Bethesdabasics and gave his Sourdough Spelt and 5-seed bread a workout yesterday evening. Luckily I had some white starter waiting patiently for an outing so it was meant to be.

I’ve never put poppy seeds in a dough before, usually sprinkling them on the top and in the bottom of the oven, on the floor and so on. I like the adrenalin rush of skidding in my socks on the fine layer of baking debris on the floor, especially carrying a hot tray or a kettle of boiling water; all part of the home baking process.  Sometimes I have to vacuum my feet; the dogs mysteriously vanish as I open the cupboard under the stairs as the vacuum cleaner is one of their sworn enemies.

I confess that I didn’t soak the seeds overnight, only for a mere hour, but the mix of linseed, poppy and other  bird seed (sorry Jackdaw) absorbed nearly all the water in that time so I figured I would get away with it. Linseed has an interesting glutinous quality once soaked which makes the dough a little sticky when you work with it, but also gives the dough a lovely moistness and makes it easy to shape and score.

Mick's 5 Seed with Spelt Sourdough Bethesdabakers

I mixed the dough up at about 5 pm and baked it just after midnight, leaving it to cool while the foxes roamed the garden, calling to each other and the robin sang away in the dark. Did I mention I live in a city?  It’s full of animals out there and they take full advantage of the night.

5 Seed Spelt Sourdough Bethesdabakers

This morning the sun is bright and the temperature has risen to a balmy 6 º C, so I’ve celebrated by dragging the Hartley loaf outside for its photocall and then hastily back indoors as it’s not that warm really.  You can’t beat a breakfast of fresh bread and butter, just delicious!

This is a moist and well fermented bread full of nutty seedy goodness, yet with no sense of crunching on tiny seeds as the soaking has softened them all right down – Brian won’t eat seedy bread, but that’s all right because he has endless loaves of white toast stuffed in the freezer. To each their own!

Not long now till the Bethesda shindig in July when you can meet Mick, marvel at his eyebrows and bake with him and anyone else who chooses to come. It’s not a workshop, but a gathering, a get together, a bake-in, it’s what the participants want it to be and it will be fun! If you fancy stepping off the internet and into a floury environment for a day or a weekend find out more here.

The Partisan Baker’s Sourdough Primer

My friend Mick Hartley bakes bread at home, but unlike me he works really hard at it and for several days and nights a week transforms his home into a microbakery, taking orders and selling wonderful loaves to his customers. Somewhere along the way he has found the time to work on his books and I’ve just bought a copy of the first of these, which is called Bethesdabasics.  Illustrated beautifully by Wendy Shea and written in a clear and succinct manner this book deals with the business of making sourdough in a way that strips away much of the anxiety and worries that the aspiring sourdough baker is prone to.

Cheers Mick!

Next time I offer to show a friend how to get started with the sourdough, this will be an excellent book to have on hand. I am well aware that there are many fine baking books around and more seem to come out all the time, but there is much to treasure in this book and I like the way Mick’s calm and unfussy approach comes through in the writing. You are in safe hands with the Partisan Baker.


When I first started baking Mick used to post on Dan Lepard’s forum and he gave me loads of advice which has stood me and many others in good stead. Most memorably when I was dithering around and getting obsessed with different types of flour and trying to make baguettes, he told me not to worry and just make the bread with what I had on the shelf. I think the hardest thing when you start out is figuring out what you need to worry about and what you don’t and I reckon if you follow along with Mick’s lessons here you will have just the right amount of information to get on track to great bread and you will get the recipe for some ‘totally awesome’ flatbreads amongst many others.