Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rustic Crunchy, Munchy Pumpkin Seed, Sunflower Seed & Flax Seed Bread

This loaf is wonderful. It's really one of the best breads I've ever made. The flavor is SO wonderfully home-y. It's nutty and fragrant and a bit crunchy. Truly delicious for sandwiches and toasted with soup. Please try this bread. It is SO GOOD! Thanks to the author, Nancy Baggett, for the wonderful recipe!
My friend, Nancy, recently posted one of my favorite bread recipes on her blog. It inspired me to post again on this method since it's been a while and I've been  making more bread recipes from this book that turn out! Alright my small following of readers...I don't know how to encourage you more to try these no-knead breads. The Kneadlessly Simple bread book has changed my life---it has given me confidence to bake. The method is SOOOO EASY!!!! And even though the directions have a lot of words, after the first couple loaves, you will be able to absolutely breeze through the directions. I've thought long and hard about how to simplify the directions--but I'm not sure how because it gives you options and gray areas--these recipes are STRAIGHTFORWARD, SIMPLE and truly DOABLE!!! You barely handle the dough. You just have to TIME IT RIGHT. And there is nothing better than homemade bread! Nothing--it's like getting loaves from a bakery. Just read through the directions and work backwards. 
I usually start the process Friday and have fresh bread either Saturday night or Sunday night. OR, I start it on Sunday night and we have bread Tuesday night. I give it 1.5-2 days process. Yes, it does take planning--yes, you do have to think ahead. just wait on the bread. Read through the recipe and decide when you want to eat it then work the time backwards. If you want this bread for Friday night dinner--start the process on Wednesday. 
About this bread--Super-Easy- Fairly Easy: All ingredients added before the first rise. Easy hand-shaping required.
Nancy Baggett's Note: I often find the seeds in breads a distraction, but in this case they make the loaf. The generous quantity of roasted pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds lends a delicious and very distinctive nuttiness—not to mention crunchy texture, eye appeal, and protein. The bread is baked in a covered pot for most of its time in the oven, which crisps the crust and the seeds on it, but also prevents them from burning.


Be sure to use very fresh, appealing-tasting seeds for this recipe. If you can only find raw, unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toss them with 1/4 teaspoon corn oil or canola oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and roast at 325 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, 7 to 9 minutes.
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached white bread flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds, preferably golden
  • 1 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. clover honey or other mild honey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for coating dough top and pan (I used safflower oil)
  • 1-1/3 cups plus 1 Tbsp. ice water, plus more if needed
  • 1/3 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, plus 2 Tbsp. for garnish
  • 1/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds, plus 2 Tbsp. for garnish
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. sea salt or other coarse crystal salt, optional
  • 1 egg white, beaten, or 2 Tbsp. liquid egg substitute

First Rise: In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the whole wheat flour, bread flour, flax seeds, salt, and yeast. In another bowl or measuring cup, thoroughly whisk the honey and oil into the water. Vigorously stir the mixture into the bowl with the flours, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the dough is thoroughly blended. If the ingredients are too dry to mix together, gradually add in just enough more ice water to facilitate mixing, as the dough should be slightly stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more whole wheat flour to stiffen it. Brush or spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, refrigerate for 3 to 10 hours (I usually leave this dough in the fridge overnight). Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours (I pull out the dough in the morning and leave it on the counter until evening).
Second Rise: Working in the bowl and turning the dough as you work, sprinkle about half the pumpkin and sunflower seeds over the surface. With lightly oiled hands, work in the seeds and fold the dough over to fully incorporate them. Continue working in the remaining seeds, folding over the dough until all the seeds are incorporated and fairly evenly distributed throughout. Sprinkle the dough with a little whole wheat flour. Press and smooth it into the dough, shaping it into a ball as you work.
Oil a 3-1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven or similar round, ovenproof pot.
Transfer the ball to the pot. Dusting the dough with more flour as needed to prevent stickiness, tuck the edges under firmly all the way around, forming a smooth, high-domed round loaf about 6-1/2 inches in diameter. Brush off excess flour, then brush all over with Cornstarch Glaze (or egg white wash), then immediately sprinkle the surface with the remaining pumpkin and sunflower seeds for garnish. Using well-oiled kitchen shears or a serrated knife, cut a 2-1/2-inch diameter, 1-1/2-inch-deep circle in the top. Cover the pot with its lid.
Let Rise Using Any of These Methods--there are 3 ways you can do this--pick one of the options below
  1. For a 2- to 4-hour regular rise: let stand at warm room temperature
  2. For a 1-1/2- to 2-1/2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave with 1 cup of boiling-hot water. 
  3. For an extended rise, refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours (I usually leave it in the fridge overnight until about 1-2 hours before wanting to bake the bread).

Then let dough stand at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough doubles from its deflated size.
Baking Preliminaries: 15 minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees F. Generously brush or spray the loaf with water.
Baking: Lower the heat to 425 degrees F. 
Bake on the lower rack, covered, for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the loaf is lightly browned--check at about the 45 minute mark to see how browned it is--it usually takes my oven less time to bake the bread.
Uncover, and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more, until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few particles on the end (or the center registers 208 degrees to 210 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). 
Then bake for 5 minutes longer to ensure the center is done (I didn't need this last step as the bread was getting quite dark). Cool in the pot on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf onto the rack; cool thoroughly.
Serving and Storing: Tastes good warm but will cut much better when cool. Cool completely before storing. 

To maintain the crisp crust, store draped with a clean tea towel or in a heavy paper bag. Or to prevent the loaf from drying out, store airtight in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil: The crust will soften, but can be crisped by heating the loaf, uncovered, in a 400 degrees F oven for a few minutes. The bread will keep at room temperature for 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.

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