Multigrain Sourdough Bread


This recipe was based on the ingredients and techniques that would have been available to the Nordic people in the middle ages, as no written recipes exist.  I did it for an event held by a local medieval reenactment group.  This is also when I made the butter.  Check out my Magic of Bread and Leavening post if you don’t have a sourdough starter ready.

It was a hearty bread with strong flavor, but not really identifiable as a sourdough.  I had someone tell me they were very picky when it comes to bread, and they loved this.

Multigrain Sourdough Bread

Utilizes a small-medium Dutch Oven, roughly 8-10″ wide.

Plan for 11-19 hours before actual baking (which is another hour), not including the soaker’s overnight.


  • 1 Tbsp each millet, rye, wheat bran, barley, buckwheat
  • 3 Tbsp rolled oats (not quick)
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp hempseed
  • 3 Tbsp chopped hazelnuts
  • ¾ cup (155g) boiling hot distilled water

Mix together and soak overnight. (If you are in a hurry you can microwave it for a minute or two, then cool completely.)



  • ¼ cup (50g) sourdough starter, previously fed, bubbly and active
  • 1 ⅓ cup (300g) warm distilled water
  • 2 ½ Tbsp (50g) raw honey, gently warmed and dissolved into the water
  • 3 cups (400g) whole wheat bread flour (I accidentally used a stone ground whole wheat flour, not a bread flour, and it worked fine)
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt


  1. In the early evening, mix the starter, honey and water in a large bowl.  
  2. Add the flour and salt.  It will be shaggy at first.  Fold and mix until fully incorporated, may seem dry.  I used a strong spatula at this stage rather than my hands.
  3. Keep working the dough 3-4 minutes.  
  4. Cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes.  Keep near 70-80°F conditions.
  5. Mix in the soaker, folding and kneading for 2 minutes to incorperate.
  6. Cover with damp towel and rest 30 minutes. 
  7. First Folding: Grab portions of the dough, stretch and fold over, multiple times. It is still a fairly moist dough at this point.
  8. Cover with damp towel and rest 30-45 minutes.  
  9. Second FoldingGrab portions of the dough, stretch and fold over, multiple times. It is still a fairly moist dough at this point.
  10. Cover with damp towel and rest 30-45 minutes.  
  11. Third Folding:  Again, grab portions of the dough, stretch and fold over, multiple times. It is still a fairly moist dough at this point.
  12. Bulk Fermentation: Cover with a damp towel and rise overnight at 70-80°F for 8-14 hours.  Time depends on temperature of kitchen.
  13. It is ready when it appears dense, it jiggles when the bowl is moved, and it has doubled in size.
  14. On a floured surface, shape into a round, using a dough scraper, seam side down.  Let rest for 10 minutes
  15. Line an 8-inch bowl of banneton with floured cloth.
  16. Make a taut surface as you shape into a round boule.  Transfer quickly into the bowl, seam side up.
  17. Cover with a damp towel and rest 30-45 minutes.
  18. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  19. Prepare cooking pot or dutch oven by cutting a few parchment paper circles to fit the bottom.  Multiple layers help prevent extra browning. A thin layer of rough grain beneath the bottom parchment can also help give some space between the dough and the pot.
  20. When the dough is ready, turn out into the cooking pot seam side down.  Score with sharp knife.
  21. Place, lidded, into oven on center rack, and immediately reduce temperature down to 450°F
  22. Bake lidded for 20 minutes.
  23. Remove lid and bake additional 30-35 minutes.  (or 15-20 if split into two small loaves in separate pots)
  24. Bread is done when internal temperature reaches 190-205°F
  25. Transfer to wire rack.
  26. Cool 1 full hour before serving, as the inside is still cooking until then.


The Magic of Bread and Leavening

bread dough

A Basic Sourdough on the Rise

I love making food from scratch when I can, because by allowing yourself to be involved from as early as possible, you have that much more time to imbue it with your energy and intentions.

I’ll go over the history of bread and leavening agents a bit, then talk about making a sourdough starter.  I love using sourdough leavening because it is so straightforward to start all by yourself.  You don’t need to buy a premade starter or know somebody.  Because you name it, and feed it regularly to maintain it, it kind of develops its own self and energy.

History First!

There are no bread recipes from ancient times or the middle ages, because bread making was so common you may as well have been writing down how to boil potatoes.  They only bothered to record what they thought was complicated or special. The earliest clear instructions were written by the French in the sixteenth century. So what we know is gathered from a mix of written snippets and archaeological evidence. 

We know that bread-making was tremendously varied in the use of ingredients, using all kinds of available grains, seeds, nuts, and produce. The oldest remains come from flatbread unearthed in the Black Desert in Jordon from around 12000 BCE.  There have also been grinding stones with grain remnants from 30000 BCE found in Australia and Europe, which suggests bread making.

Cultivated yeast is a modern invention, and has only been around for about 150 years, so all forms of Medieval yeast bread used one of two agents:  Barm, or Sourdough. Both use a bacterial culture called Lactobacillus in combination with microorganisms and yeast to create the rise we love in our bread.

Barm is the skimmed foam off the top of freshly made fermented liquids such as wine (must) or beer, and can be used to start the next batch of alcohol.  Countries with a larger brewing industry use more Barm for their bread, like England.

The relationship between brewers and bakers has been a close one for thousands of years, connected by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a precursor to the commercially available baker’s and brewer’s yeasts of today.  In bread, it is sweet and rises quickly. 

Sourdough is made with wild yeasts, and the flavor is much stronger and more sour, with a slower rise.  100% rye flour breads must use sourdough, as there isn’t enough gluten content for cultivated yeast or Barm to function properly.

Forms of sourdough are known to have been baked as early as 3700 BCE in Switzerland, but has likely been around since the cultivation of grains in the Fertile Crescent several thousands of years prior.  It has traditionally been utilized more heavily in wine-drinking countries like France. 

Families tend to their Sourdough Leavens (the fermented slurry of water and flour) and portion them out to their children when they move out on their own, and to friends as gifts.  Some claim a long heritage for their particular Leaven and have their own rules and ingredients. Amish Friendship Bread, for example, is a form of sourdough Leaven that uses milk and sugar (for medieval reenactment purposes, sugar was not available in the middle ages).

How To Make Your Own Sourdough Leaven:

Sourdough is begun fairly simply with a starter known as a Leaven, which is a mixture of distilled water and flour (more on flour later) left to ferment and daily ‘fed’ more water and flour.  A more liquid Leaven results in a more sour flavor than a stiffer Leaven. A balanced mix would be about 4 oz of each.

This is placed in a glass or food safe plastic bowl that allows room for expanding (up to three times is usually safe).  It is given a breathable lid of cheesecloth, fabric, or a paper towel and held in place with a rubber band. It should be placed where the temperature is fairly consistent, and ideally between about 71°-86°F. For me, that is my Hestia altar in the summer, and in the winter it is kept inside the oven, the heat off, with just the light on. I also have to lay something lightly over the top to shade it from the oven light, or it gets this skin on top that has to be removed.

After a day or two, bubbles will be seen on the surface of the Leaven. It will start to get that classic yeasty, sour scent. When it’s at full rise, the scent is sweeter.  Learn those smells, because its how you will be able to tell if it’s healthy later.  You can even taste it if you want, some bakers do.


Bubble, bubble…

Every day while you are building it up, up to half the Leaven will be discarded (this is to maintain slow growth rather than ending up with way too much Leaven than can be used or stored), and another 4 oz each of water and flour is mixed in.  Some people swear on sticking to a careful schedule of feeding at the same time of day, while others are more lax, but missing a day altogether can result in an imbalance in the micro culture. On the 4th and 5th days, you can even double the feedings to every 12 hours when it is at its lowest point.

The Leaven culture that is being fostered here is a delicate one.  The symbiotic relationship between the wild yeasts and Lactobacillus relies on both being strong enough to edge out other microorganisms that constantly threaten to take over, including molds.

The kind of flour used does matter.  Organic, unbleached, unbromated flour contains more microorganisms than more processed flour.  Bran-containing flour has the highest amount of them, as well as a wider variety of minerals. As long as it is a grain-based flour, it can be used.  If you care about having ‘local’ microorganisms, then use locally sourced flour. 

Extra microorganisms can be ‘seeded’ by use of various fruits and vegetables, such as soaking unwashed organic grapes for the culture on their skins, or using the water from boiling potatoes for the additional starch.  This is not a necessary step but something that can be experimented with to see if it affects the rise or flavor, which is a debated topic.

wild yeast

Teeny Tiny Civilizations

The starter is usually ready to be baked with five days after it has begun bubbling.  Some days it will expand a great deal and it is perfectly alright to move it to larger containers when needed.  Once it has reached this point, it can be kept in the fridge and fed only once a week or so, and can even go months if necessary if you take time to revive it before using it. 

Set it out and feed it the day before you plan to bake with it.  It should rise up well overnight, otherwise you need to feed it and try again the next day, as it may have gone dormant. 

There are many sourdough bread recipes available utilizing a wide variety of grain flours and techniques, and I’ll be posting some now and again, like this Multigrain Sourdough Bread.  As sourdough Leaven is a slow riser, many of them take up to a full day before it is ready for the oven and may involve a specific schedule of kneading/folding and resting.  It takes planning, attention, and patience, for a delicious flavorful reward.

All About Butter

There is a special magic to simple foods like butter. It has a nurturing and gentling quality, and is one of the few animal fats we can eat without harming the animal. You can cast spells by rolling butter in edible herbs and serving it on bread, baking, or cooking with it. It is multilayered, capable of combining with other food-based spells for maximum effect.

Making butter is also an excellent family-friendly activity for sabbats, and a beautiful metaphor for change and transformation. Butter is an example of when you take one thing, cream, and it turns into two perfectly useful things, butter and buttermilk.

Butter is made using high fat dairy, such as heavy cream. The higher the fat content, the better, so in America, Jersey dairy cows in particular are prized for their butter. Other types of milk, such as goat’s, are also useable. Goat’s milk in particular makes a very white butter, as it does not have beta-carotene like cow’s milk does.

There are many options, all with their own unique flavors and properties.
Finding an edible-dairy-producing livestock animal that associates with your purposes might be an excellent addition to this working. This can include water buffalo, bison, camel, donkey, goat, horse, pig, reindeer, sheep, and yak. Some are harder to find than others, but a start can be finding the closest farm of that type near you, or speciality organic grocery stores. You can collect the cream from raw milk by leaving it overnight in the fridge, and skimming off the cream that has floated to the top in the morning.

When the milk is pasteurized, the butter is called sweet cream, which is what we are generally used to in America. When it is made with raw cream that is mildly fermented by being left sitting for a few days, it is called cultured butter, such as the more tangy variety we call European. Modern cultured butter is pasteurized, but then fermented by the introduction of Lactococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria.

Clarifying butter is a way to extend its shelf life and give it a higher burn point so it can be used in higher heat applications. The butter is gently melted, and all the foam skimmed off and the butter finely strained, to remove milk solids and excess water. Ghee is a form of clarified butter that cooks the milk solids for a while before removing them, giving it a lightly browned, nutty flavor.

The byproduct of butter, buttermilk is the liquid left over after the butter has come together. The buttermilk sold in stores is also cultured (fermented by introduction of Lactococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria), which makes the buttermilk thick and produces lactic acid. Buttermilk can be used in baking, in marinating meat, or you can drink it straight.

How to Make Butter
(Makes 2 sticks/1 cup worth)

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • A medium bowl
  • A large bowl of ice water
  • 1 tsp fine salt or to taste (optional, not recommended if you plan to use for baking)
  • Stand mixer, hand mixer, blender, or clear jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • Small spatula or spoon, cheesecloth (optional)

If using a mixer or blender, start on low speed and build up to medium. First it will look like whipped cream with soft, then stiff, peaks, then it will solidify. It can take between 5-10 minutes.

If you are shaking the jar by hand, it takes much more time. Share the job with energetic children!

Strain out the buttermilk and save for other immediate purposes.

Place the lump of butter into a bowl, and pour ice-cold water over it. Using a small spatula or spoon, press the butter to squeeze out excess buttermilk. Drain the liquid, and repeat until the water runs clear. You can also squeeze it with some cheesecloth. You need to remove all the buttermilk or the butter will not last as long.

At this time, you can add the fine salt and work it through the butter. You may also add in other flavors and herbs as you like.

Can be stored in the fridge for 6 weeks.

Yuletide Drinks

Happy Solstice and Joyous Yule! We have a full moon this year, so we’re staying up all night as a vigil for the coming sun!

We’re going to touch on three seasonal drinks here. First is a special infused brandy that we are going to save until next year, and hopefully will become an annual tradition. Second is a brief look at mulling spices. Last, we finish our Winter Solstice vigil with a hot spiced Chai and plan to watch the sun rise!

For our Solstice Brandy, you will need a gallon jar with lid, and many spices! Be creative, if you like certain flavors and not others. I only put in a couple cloves, for example. Some people add dried seasonal berries, like elderberries!

  • 1.75 liter brandy (cheap is fine)
  • 4 oranges, quartered (any variety you like)
  • 8 inches of cinnamon sticks
  • 24 peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 cardamon pods (lightly crushed)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced in half

Put the sugar in the jar first, just for ease of layering, then add everything else, and the brandy last. Seal it up, give it a good shake now and then throughout the year. Ideally put it somewhere out of direct light.


We made two batches. We had three types of oranges, including those pretty pink Cara Cara ones.


I’m very excited to try these next year! They live on the Hestia altar at my friend’s house.

Now for a quickie on mulling spices!

We did not use these tonight, but since my friend keeps her own blend on hand for mulling cider or wine, I asked to share her recipe.

Mulling Spices:

  • 3 or 4 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 4 Tbsp whole allspice
  • 4 Tbsp whole cardamom
  • 4 Tbsp whole star anise
  • 4 Tbsp dried orange peel (optional)

Use a few tablespoons or a small handful with 1-2 bottle(s) red wine (or equivalent volume apple cider) in a low slow cooker, or a pot on low-med heat. Add 1 medium orange, sliced, to the simmering wine/cider. We also prefer adding 1/4 cup brown or raw sugar.

Now then, some hot spiced Chai!

I love Chai. I love it iced or hot, sweet or spicy. This one has a nice balance. We made it vegan using coconut milk, but you can use half and half or whole milk easily for a rich treat!

Chai Spice Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp whole cardamom pods (lightly crushed)
  • 3 Tbsp whole allspice
  • 3 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 red chili pods
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (roughly 12″)
  • 0.5 inch fresh ginger root, peeled

Simmer in a pot either loose or in large tea/muslin bags, in 4-5 quarts (we’re guessing, to be honest) water with:

  • 3 tbsp loose black tea (or, in our case, 5 black tea bags)


Simmer for about a half hour. Strain. Add ~3/4 cup honey, or to taste, whisk till it dissolves. Then complete the drink with a can of full fat coconut milk (or half and half) and 1 tsp vanilla extract.


By the way, if you love Chai flavors, you can mix these spices in sugar and leave them to infuse! Then you can strain them or blend in a food processor (way easier) and use in any recipe you’d use white sugar in.


We’re currently enjoying some cold leftovers with our hot Chai, watching a baking show. We’ve got a few more hours to go before Sunrise, so we may try a guided meditation (there are several on YouTube for the Winter Solstice).

Much love, and merry meet!


Edit: We made it!

Spelled Shortbread Cookies

cookies prep

Cookie Prep from December 2017

My latest baking obsession has been cookies.  Most especially, shortbread cookies!  A fan of persnickety recipes (for some reason), I love the delicacy of shortbread.  It’s actually a very simple recipe, it only requires some patience.  What’s especially nice about this simple treat is how easy it is to add spells and magical ingredients.

Shortbread dates back to at least the 12th century, originating as leftover yeast bread roll dough, sweetened and spiced, that was twice-baked to a hard round.  Eventually, butter replaced the yeast, and the first published recipe for the kind of cookie we’re used to was in 1736 in ‘Mrs. McLintock’s Receipts for Cookery and Pastry-Work.’  This recipe likely used oat flour and was more biscuit-like than we’re used to.

Queen Mary of Scots is credited with refining and popularizing shortbread, adding caraway seeds for flavor.

Now the basic modern shortbread recipe is pretty simple.  Butter, sugar, and flour.  My favorite recipe uses confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, a bit of vanilla extract, and some salt if you are using unsalted butter.

Check out the recipe here

shortbread cookies simple

Now what about making spelled cookies?

Note:  Something I like to do when I am making magical food is to light a candle during the whole process.  It sets up a sacred space for myself.  I usually use a simple, unscented white jar candle that will last a long time.  When I am not actively working on the food, like if the cookie dough is chilling overnight, I will snuff it out, but re-light it whenever I’m back to it.

Now, then.  The really important part here is to consider both your intention as well as taste.  Shortbread is a light flavor with a tender bite, so do not overwhelm it with a variety of new ingredients.

Here are some flavor options that would be popular.  Use culinary grade herbs/spices, and DO NOT use essential oils.  If using flavor extracts, make sure they are pure and actually contain the natural ingredient.

  • Almond – Loving, Boosts Fertility, Good Luck, Beauty, and Overcoming Addictions.
  • Caraway – Loving, Protecting, Sensuality, and giving Peace of Mind.
  • Cinnamon – Prosperity, Success, Strength, and Healing.
  • Cranberry – Loving, Passionate, Healing, Positive Energy, Courage, and Will to Action.
  • Ginger – Energizing and Passionate.
  • Lavender – Healing, Purifying, Loving, and Boosts Fertility.  Lavender is a strong flavor so use sparingly, and sprinkle some on top.
  • Lemon – Purifying, Loving, and can turn away the Evil Eye or unfriendly spells.  Adding juice would add too much liquid to the recipe, so instead, use the zest of the rind.
  • Nutmeg – Healing, Good Luck, and Clairvoyance.
  • Orange – Inspiring, Courage, Loving, Strengthening, and Healing.
  • Rose – Happiness, Loving, Protection, and Good Luck.
  • Rosemary – Remembrance, Purifying, and Healing.
  • Vanilla – Soothing, Empowering, Loving, and Good Luck.

So for a good combination example, the spice trio of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg would be especially Healing, strengthened by the ginger.

An example of one using fruit would be these Cranberry Orange Shortbread cookies.  This combo with the almond extract is great for enhancing loving relationships, passion and courage in all endeavors, and healing.


On top of adding herbs, spices, or fruit, you can also boost your intentions with the right shapes or indented marks.  Again, intent is what matters here.  If you are creating a protection spell, then choose a design that makes you think of that.  It could be simple – circle-shaped, because the shield you are building is an orb.  Maybe you are wanting to share love and affection, so a heart shape is classic.  A solid, rectangular brick shape might be perfect for a grounding cookie after a ritual.  You could also carefully draw sigils or runes on the precut dough after it’s been placed on the cookie sheet.

There are many excellent sigil-makers on the internet if you want something custom to your needs.  Otherwise there are many premade sigils and bind-runes to be found.  The more information you can find on a symbol before using it, the better.  If you can see why each mark was made, you can feel more confident in using it for your spell.

An example of nicely defined and explained bind-runes is here

Video on making your own bind rune:

bind runes video

One guide to designing your own sigils:


There are excellent cookie-cutter makers on Etsy if you want to have one made with your design, if you plan on making them regularly (or for something special).

If you don’t want to mark the cookies directly, you can write it out on a small bit of paper and let it burn in the oven, or over the stove by your candle, while the cookies bake.

Now once those cookies are just barely done and not browned, and set out to cool off the baking sheet, you can add your own energy and blessing.  Here, again, it is up to you to determine what feels correct for the situation.  There are so many prayers for blessing food out there, from a wide variety of Neo Pagan methods to traditional Christian to any culture you are from.  You can use visualization techniques to draw in energy into the cookies, and create a protective shield around them.

Even how to you present your cookies can work into the spell.  Wrapping them in certain colors, including some special flowers, or a written note or poem.  It’s the whole package, and you can go as elaborate as feel correct to you.

Here is one of the cookie packages I made for last year’s holiday season to give out to neighbors.  I wanted something homey and comfortable, not too showy.  Also made sure to include all ingredients in my note.  Hope to see what you create!

cookie box 2017