Sunday, August 22, 2010

Buttermilk Seed Bread

My most dog-eared, splattered cookbook is Beth Hensperger's Bread for All Seasons. I don't bake much, but when I do, some great favorites come from this book. She has published many books about bread baking, and I have three of them. You simply can't go wrong with her recipes; this woman loves all that bread is about.

One thing about homemade bread is that it makes wonderful gifts, and is usually welcome at potlucks, alongside a dish of fresh butter. Not many people bake bread, and it's a joy to see faces light up when a homemade loaf is presented.

I love breads that are chock full of whole grains, nuts, seeds and such. This bread is versatile and hearty. Use it for grilled cheese or BLT (or BAT) sandwiches. Toasted, it's sheer bliss, especially with homemade jams made of summer fruits.
Adapted from Beth Hensperger's Bread for All Seasons

You can vary the combinations of seeds; I usually leave out the sesame seeds and increase the amounts of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Toast seeds carefully--they're easy to burn.

Mix and set aside:

1/2 cup bulgur (or 1/2 cup barley flakes, oats, etc.)
1/2 cup warm water

Toast in medium-hot skillet, stirring, until golden, fragrant and popping:

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds (these toast faster; do them separately)

Mix in small bowl and let sit 10 minutes or so until frothy:

1 tablespoon (or 1 envelope) active dry yeast
a pinch of brown sugar or a dab of honey
1/4 cup warm water

Place in bowl of mixer with dough hook:

Toasted seed mixture
Soaked bulgur and its liquid, if any
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (or 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup yogurt)
1/4 cup canola oil or melted butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups unbleached flour

Beat hard with dough hook for about 1 minute. Add yeast mixture and continue to mix, gradually adding another 2 to 4 cups flour as needed until dough begins to clean sides of bowl. Knead for 3 minutes, then begin checking for a good stringiness to the dough when you pull a bit away.

Gather dough into a ball and place in oiled bowl, turning to grease top of dough. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch dough down, shape into two round loaves, and let rise on Silpat-covered or greased baking sheet about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Slash tops of loaves a few times and bake for 15 minutes, then check for browning and cover tops of loaves with foil if they are getting too dark. Bake about 20 minutes more or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Place on cooling racks and cool completely before slicing.

If using a baking stone, place it on bottom oven rack, and the loaves on the rack just above it. Preheat the oven at least 30 minutes before baking so the stone gets hot.

Makes 2 luscious, crunchy, seedy loaves.

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