Once Upon a time: Cooking … Baking … Traveling … Laughing …

BBB ~ Arkatena Bread


Arkatena Bread

Our kitchen of the month today is Elizabeth, blog from our Kitchen.  Some say this is a difficult bread … I found it very cooperative in coming together.  I was surprised that you could get a starter in just three days with the chickpea flour!  The recipe Elizabeth has brought us is based on Andrew Whitley’s recipe for Arkatena Bread in “Bread Matters”, p.190-193.  I had this book on my iPad and tended to follow those recipe amounts but Elizabeth’s directions.  The places I deviated you’ll see underlined.

What would I change: Instead of fennel seeds (which I do love) I’d use rosemary.  The fennel brings out a sweetness here that was nice just not what I was looking for.  This starter has a very strong aroma that I thought would benefit from the fennel but seemed totally absent from the final loaf.  I goofed using the fennel on the topping and should have made it sesame seeds.  I might up the salt slightly, certainly I would not cut back on the salt.

If you like bread with a hefty crust, chewy crmb and intense flavour, this one is for you. It is like french Country Bread gone rustic. It is amazing what a difference the addition of chickpea flour can make to a bread […] called arkatena and made with natural fermentation of chickpeas.

Arkatena Bread


IMG_0543.jpegPlease note that the Chickpea starter takes 3 days to create.

Chickpea Starter (3 day process…) 

  • Day 1
    • 30g chickpea flour (aka gram flour, garbanzo flour, besan)
    • 40g water
  • Day 2
    • all the starter from Day 1 (total of 70g)
    • 30g chickpea flour
    • 40g water
  • Day 3
    • all the starter from Days 1&2 (total of 140g)
    • 80g 100% wholewheat flour
    • 60g water


  • 50g white whole wheat flour
  • 50g chickpea flour
  • 150 bread flour
  • all the bubbling arkatena starter from above (total of 160)
  • 120g water

Actual Dough 

  • 100g white whole wheat flour
  • 300g bread flour
  • 20g ground flax seed
  • 300g water, divided (keep back 25g for adding the salt)
  • all the leavener
  • 10g sea salt
  • 2g fennel seeds


  1. starter: In the late afternoon, three days before you will be baking the bread:
    • Put 30 grams chickpea flour (aka gram flour, besan) and 70 grams water into a medium-sized bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix it together. Cover the bowl with a shower cap and wrap in towel to keep drafts off then left on counter with heat vent underneath – the counter is warmed by the vent. 
    • In the late afternoon, two days before you will be baking the bread: Use a wooden spoon to stir 70 grams chickpea flour and 30 grams water into the mixture in the bowl. Re-cover the bowl with a shower cap and leave on warm counter top wrapped in towel.
    • In the late afternoon, one day before you will be baking the bread: Use a wooden spoon to stir 80 grams wholewheat flour and 60 grams water into the mixture in the bowl. Re-cover the bowl with a shower cap and leave on warm counter. Andrew Whitley writes: After a few more hours fermentation, you should have a lively arkatena starter.
  1. leavener: In the late evening of the day before you will be baking the bread, put all the leavener ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to create dough.
  2. Cover with a shower cap and left on a warm counter top. Whitley writes that this takes about 4 hours and that the leavener is ready when it has “expanded appreciably but not collapsed on itself“. Elizabeth:  I confess that I am not likely to pay strict attention to Whitley’s temperature formula and may simply use body temperature water instead of getting my thermometer out… :lalala: I am also assuming that the covered bowl of leavener will be happy to staying overnight in the oven with only the light on.  I paid no attention to the temperature formula.
  3. actual dough: In the morning of the day you will be baking the bread:
    • Put flours, wheat germ, the leavener, and all but 25 grams of water into a large mixing bowl. Stir with a dough whisk (or wooden spoon). Cover with a shower cap and set aside on the counter for 30 to 40 minutes.  Several of the Babes commented that they had a very loose dough that made for a flat loaf.  When I mixed this I thought it was DRY and might never come together but it finally did. At no time did I find this a loose dough, it held it’s shape very well for me. No idea why.
    • Adding the salt: In a small bowl, whisk the salt into the final 25 grams water. Pour the salt mixture over the dough.
    • Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt and water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than a horrible separated glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a shower cap and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
    • Stretching and folding the dough: Turn the bowl as you fold and re-fold the dough into the center. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter (or if the kitchen is cool like ours in winter and spring, into the oven with only the light turned on). Repeat the folding step about 3 times in all at 30 minute intervals. You’ll notice that after each time, the dough will feel significantly smoother (in spite of the grains from the multi-grain cereal). After the final time of folding, the dough is ready to pre-shape.
    • Pre-shaping: Scatter a light dusting of all-purpose flour on the board and gently place the dough onto the board. Fold the dough over in half, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Continue folding in half until the dough is shaped in a ball. Cover with the bowl and let rest for about 30 minutes.
    • Shaping and adding the topping: Without breaking the skin, use the dough scraper on the sides to tighten the dough ball further. Once it has been tightened, run your hands under the cold water tap. Poke a hole the center of the ball to form a ring, then gently rub the top of the ring to wet it thoroughly. Cover the top with a single layer of sesame seeds. Lightly spray again before putting the shaped loaf onto a piece of parchment paper (or into a rice-floured brotform). Cover with the tea towel again and let sit for an hour or so to allow the loaf to almost double.
    • I used a glass to hold the hole open.  Ultimately the hole closed in baking.
    • Baking: To know when it’s time to bake, run your index finger under water and gently but firmly press it on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover the bread with the tea towel and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on. If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, leave the tray on the counter. Put cast-iron combo cooker and/or baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 400F. When the oven is preheated about fifteen minutes later:
    • I used a metal disk covered with parchment paper to shape my loaf. I placed a parchment sling (long strip of triple fold parchment) under the metal dish so I could lift the loaf and drop it into my cast iron cooker. Worked like a charm.
    • Combo Cooker: Use the parchment paper to lift the shaped loaf into the frying pan part of the combo cooker. Immediately put the hot deep-sided pan of the combo cooker on top as a lid. Put the bread in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 375F. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for another 30 minutes, until the crust is a lovely dark golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom.
      • Freeform on Baking Stone: Transfer the shaped loaf (including the parchment paper) onto the hot stone. Place an overturned stainless steel mixing bowl to cover the bread. Immediately turn the oven down to 375F. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for another 30 minutes, until the crust is a lovely dark golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom.
    • Cooling: When the bread has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating. The bread is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven!
    • I measured the internal temperature at 205° and took it out of the oven.  In future I might leave it a little higher by 3 or 4 degrees.  Whole grain breads always need a higher internal temperature than white flour.
    • If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

We are enjoying this bread! just sliced, as avocado toast and for meatloaf sandwiches and just buttered toast.

I know that in spite of all the warnings that it’s so drastically difficult, you’ll want to make this bread! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make Arkatena Bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 January 2020.

Here’s how to let us know:

  • email Elizabeth
    » Remember to include your name and a link to your post
    » Please type “BBB January 2020 bread” in the subject heading

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included.

If you don’t have a blog or flickr-like account, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details, so your Arkatena bread can be included in the roundup too.

Author: MyKitchenInHalfCups

Love baking bread Love travel Bread Baking Babe (group)

11 thoughts on “BBB ~ Arkatena Bread

  1. A “very strong aroma”, eh? I’d go so far as to call a spade a spade and say “stink”.

    Your bread looks fabulous! I particularly like that you paid no attention to the temperature formula. As if any self-respecting Cypriot baker uses her thermometer to constantly check the temperature of her chickpea flour starter…. And what an excellent idea to use rosemary instead of fennel.

    I’m thinking that Paula Wolfert’s instruction to make an infusion made with bay leaves, cinnamon, anise seeds, cloves is a cool idea too – and use the tea rather than adding whole seeds to the bread. That might soften the intensity of the spices. (Her recipe for Chickpea-Leavened Bread is here: )

    • Shame on you, now I’ve ordered that book.
      You know how we’re all always saying baking bread is not rocket science … that’s how I feel when things start talking technical. Technical belongs to the rockets and computers not in my kitchen baking bread … well except when it comes to a thermometer to tell me when bread is done. hehe.

  2. WOW! You got the absolute perfect loaf out of this recipe! I am super impressed, looks like a yeast risen loaf, and beautiful crumb and color. You totally nailed it, chickpea flour likes your kitchen!

  3. Your loaf looks fabulous! Love that oven spring. I did not smell a strong aroma with my chickpea starter. Perhaps it was due to my allergies. Who knows?

  4. Well… I have no idea what a combo-cooker is, my house is not warm enough this time of year to get any bread / dough / starter to do anything…. But your loaf is lovely and I adore thick, chewy bread. o – Well done !

    • Katie I think a combo cooker is something Lodge makes that is a cast iron skillet that can be used as the lid on a Dutch oven.

    • Katie, we have a Lodge combo-cooker (got it at a camping supply store) – it’s comprised of two cast-iron frying pans. One of the pans is quite deep; the other is regular depth. The regular depth one can be used as a lid on the deep one to create a Dutch Oven.

      There is photo of combo-cooker on my blog – search “Sort of Wordless Not-Wednesday: Merry Christmas to Me!” from December 2017 (This comment section won’t allow me to post a link)

  5. Pingback: Bread Baking Babes tackle Arkatena Bread · Thyme for Cooking

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