It’s been a while since I’ve made bread for the blog because I pretty much have all of the basics covered (Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread, Focaccia Rolls, Oatmeal Molasses Bread, No Knead Ciabatta, Naan, and Pita), plus several flavor variations on those staples. But sometime last week the idea for this bread popped into my head and I knew I had to make it.
I based this recipe on the Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread, but added chopped sunflower seeds for a nutty flavor… and OMG it’s SO GOOD. The nutty bits are a perfect compliment to the very slight honey flavor and it tastes great with just a slather of butter or toasted with peanut butter (that’s been my breakfast for the past week).
You can make two smaller boules like I did, or one big loaf (either a round boule or it can be placed in a loaf pan). Just be sure to extend the baking time slightly if you make one loaf instead of two. You’ll want to use raw sunflower seeds instead of roasted because roasted usually have added oil and salt that will mask their pure nutty flavor and cause the bread to be overly salty. I bought my sunflower seeds from the bulk bins so that I could buy the exact amount I needed worrying about leftovers.
I think you’re gonna love this one!
Honey Sunflower Bread
- 1¼ cups warm water $0.00
- 2 Tbsp honey $0.24
- 2 tsp instant or active dry yeast $0.19
- 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds $0.60
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour $0.38
- ½ Tbsp salt $0.05
- 1½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour $0.14
- 1 large egg (optional) $0.17
- Dissolve the yeast and honey into the warm water and let it rest for five minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
- While the yeast is activating, roughly chop the sunflower seeds with either a knife or a mini-food processor. Add the chopped sunflower seeds to a large bowl with one cup of the whole wheat flour and the salt. Stir until evenly combined.
- By this point the yeast should be foamy and frothy in the water. Add the olive oil to the yeast water and then pour it all into the bowl with the flour and sunflower seeds. Stir until the mixture is fairly smooth.
- Add the last half cup of whole wheat flour and stir until it is incorporated. Add a half cup of all-purpose flour and stir until it forms a loose, shaggy ball of dough.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and place it onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough for five minutes, slowly adding more all-purpose flour as you go. After five minutes of kneading, the dough should be soft, supple, not sticky, and will spring back when poked gently with your finger. You should use between 1½ to 2 cups of all-purpose flour total (including what was added when it was in the bowl).
- Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let it rise for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until double in size.
- Once it is double in size, deflate it, divide it in half, and form it into two balls. Place the balls on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper, cover with a damp towel, and allow them to rise until double again (1 to 1.5 hrs).
- Begin preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Separate the egg white and yolk. Whisk a tablespoon of water into the egg white and then brush it over the tops of each loaf. The egg wash is optional, but it will create a nice deep brown, glossy crust.
- Take a sharp knife (a micro-serrated bread knife or a very sharp chef's knife) and carefully slice an "X" in the top of each loaf. Be sure to use no downward pressure while doing this, just carefully drag the knife horizontally or you'll deflate the loaf. Bake the loaves in the preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Allow the loaves to cool before slicing.
Step by Step Photos
Dissolve the yeast and honey in warm water. Let this sit while you prepare the next ingredients. I use the hottest water that will come out of my tap, which is around 110 degrees. It shouldn’t be so hot that it will burn you, or else it may very well kill the yeast, too.
Add the olive oil to the yeast water (it won’t really stir in because oil & water, you know…) and then pour it into the bowl with the flour, sunflower seeds, and salt. Stir the mixture until it is smooth. Add the last 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and then stir until smooth again… add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and then you should have…
After five minutes you should have used about 1.5-2 cups of all-purpose flour total, and it will spring back when you poke it with your finger. The dough should still be slightly soft, supple, and not sticky at all. It shouldn’t be so hard that you can’t knead it (that means you’ve added too much flour and your final product will be very dense).
Deflate the dough (by punching it down), divide it in two, and then shape each half into a ball. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave enough room between them so that they don’t touch once they have risen. Cover them loosely with a damp towel so they don’t dry out, and then let them rise until double again (another 1 to 1.5 hrs).
To get a really nice brown, glossy crust you can use an egg wash. Whisk together an egg white with a tablespoon or so of water and then brush it over the loaves. If you don’t want to waste an egg, milk is a good wash that will help it brown, but it leaves a matte finish rather than a glossy finish. OR, you can just bake them as is.
To make the pretty design on top, use a very sharp knife to gently slice an X in the top of each loaf. The trick to this is to A) use a super sharp knife and B) use NO downward pressure. Just drag the knife horizontally and let the sharp edge slice the loaf open. I only cut about 1/2 inch deep.