Is there anything better than freshly baked bread? In my opinion, it’s hard to beat. And if you haven’t made it yourself before today, then I share this recipe with a warning: you will become a bread snob. Of course we all eat store-bought loafs because we are busy and can barely make dinner, let alone make our own bread. However, after you taste a bite of this and realize how simple it can be, you will want to carve three hours out of your schedule every so often to do it. Personally, I find it to be a fun process and not only that, the end result is something to be proud of and is sure to impress those around you.
The method to making this can be used to create a number of variations. My all-time favorite is a crusty whole wheat bread with nuts or seeds and dried fruit of some sort to give a punch of sweetness. This version has both pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, as well as small chunks of medjool dates which stand up perfectly during the kneading and baking process. I eat this bread for all meals – by itself, with a smear of butter and jam or even as a sandwich with roasted turkey, dijon, arugula, and brie. It’s delicious!
Find some time this weekend to make this for yourself. I know you will be very happy!!
- 1¼ cup warm water
- 1 package rapid rise instant yeast
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for top
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus a pinch more for top
- 1½ cup stone ground wheat flour (plus more, as needed)
- 1¼ cup bread flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds, plus 1 teaspoon for top
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, plus 1 teaspoon for top
- ⅓ cup dates, pit removed and roughly chopped
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the warm water, yeast, sugar, olive oil, and salt. Turn mixer on low and mix for a few seconds. Begin adding the wheat flour, ½ cup at a time, followed by the bread flour. If the dough is too wet, add a bit more wheat flour until it comes together. You may need to add up to an additional ½ cup more.
- Pour dough out onto a lightly floured, clean surface and begin kneading. Add more flour to top of dough and surface if it begins sticking. Knead dough with hands for about 10-12 minutes or if you prefer, you can leave it in the mixer and knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes on medium-high speed. Once kneaded, form into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl. Flip dough around in oil so it is covered on all sides and then leave it in the bowl and cover with a dish cloth. Place in a warm area (not too warm, though. A good spot is on top of an oven that is preheating) and allow to rise for one hour.
- After an hour, pound down the dough and then place it back on the lightly floured surface and knead it for an additional 4-5 minutes. Place back in the oiled bowl, cover with cloth and allow to rise for an additional hour.
- Preheat oven to 450. Place pizza stone in oven, if you have one.
- After the second hour, place dough on surface and form it into a loaf. Place on a floured pizza peel or you can also place on baking sheet. Cover again with dish cloth and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
- When ready to cook, use a sharp knife to score the top of the loaf (as seen in images). Rub the top with additional olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and remaining sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Push loaf off of pizza peel onto stone in oven (or place baking sheet in oven). Before you close oven door, place a small pan in the bottom of the oven and add a few ice cubes to it*. Shut the oven door and cook for about 30-35 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. If you have a cooking thermometer, the interior should read 200. If the outside begins to get too brown, then cover with aluminum foil.
- Remove from oven and serve right away for fresh, warm bread!