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There are Sundays when what I really want to do is make bread. This is typically an hours-long process that involves poring over my cookbooks to find an engaging new recipe, kneading the dough until I can feel that it's ready, letting the dough rise, shaping it into fancy braided loaves if I'm feeling particularly ambitious or plain ones if not, and letting the dough rise some more before finally baking it. And then there are Sundays when mostly, what I really want to do is just eat bread. Last weekend featured one of those Sundays. Between religious services, taking advantage of the glorious fall weather for a run in the park, chopping up vegetables and ham for a batch of split pea soup, and making my monthly trip to the co-op for bulk whole grains and sustainable tuna, the whole Zen-bread thing wasn't going to happen. But since split pea soup is one of those meals that is simply incomplete without a loaf of warm homemade bread, I turned to the the "Stir-and-Pour Breads" chapter of Bea Ojakangas' Great Whole Grain Breads. Wheat Germ and Sunflower Bread fit the bill: simple, hearty, and less than 90 minutes of combined prep, rising, and baking time.
This recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, which gives the bread a fluffier, lighter texture that I thought possible in a mostly whole-grain loaf (I tracked down the flour in the bulk bins at the co-op). Be sure not to leave off the sunflower seeds and wheat germ--as the recipe title suggests, they are the key ingredients that provide a satisfyingly hearty flavor and a nice crunch.
Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads by Bea Ojakangas
- 1 cup warm water (approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon wheat germ
Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit until yeast has swollen and small bubbles appear on the liquid’s surface (about five minutes). Stir in the oil and salt. Add the flours and stir 50 times, making sure to incorporate all of the flour by scraping the sides of the bowl. A soft, sticky dough will form.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. With wet hands, pat the dough into a circle approximately 1/2 inch thick and 9 inches in diameter. Re-wet hands if dough starts to stick to them.
Let loaf rise until slightly puffy, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a pastry brush, brush loaf with water and sprinkle with sunflower seeds and wheat germ.
Bake loaf until the top is well-browned and crusty, about 20 minutes.
Cut into wedges to serve. Although this bread is best the day it's made, you can store the completely cooled bread in an airtight container at room temperature.