Last week I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had baked several delicious loaves of bread from the cookbook Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but none met my criteria of a perfect loaf of bread. This loaf needed to be healthy and hearty; a good bread to toast and eat with eggs; a bread full of whole grains, flax, various seeds and nuts. And super easy to make.
I had made the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day Master Loaf Recipe, but it was very plain and didn’t have the heartiness I was looking for. Betsy’s Seed Oat Bread was more promising with its addition of oats, flaxseed and seeds, but it still contained more white flour than whole grain flour.
That’s when I decided that I had had enough of recipes and would create my own recipe for my ideal loaf of bread. I made a wish list of all the ingredients I’d love to have in my bread: whole wheat flour, spelt flour, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, honey, olive oil, millet, oats and nuts. Roughly following the proportions I’d observed in the other bread recipes, I mixed up a batch of dough and waited 24 hours to bake it. Once baked, I pulled out my serrated knife and sliced off a piece. It looked beautiful with the seeds and specks of millet peeking through. Then I took a bite. It tasted awful. Something was off. This was no ideal loaf of bread. Was it the proportions? Had the flaxseed gone rancid? Had some catastrophic chemical reaction occurred when I combined the ingredients? Nothing could salvage this bread. Not even making fennel-sprinkled bread crumbs out of it. Two things were obvious: I wouldn’t be making my “wonder loaf” again and I wasn’t ready to graduate from actual tested recipes.
Since the throw-together-whatever-sounds-good approach wasn’t working, finding my ideal loaf of bread called for a slower approach. I decided to follow several of the recipes in the cookbook and gradually adjust them until I discovered my ideal breakfast bread.
This 100% Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Bread is one of those stepping-stone loaves. Though I protest that it doesn’t have all the ingredients from my wish list, it does have many virtues:
- It uses 100% whole grain flour.
- It contains flaxseed.
- It is moist and has a good crumb.
- It is super easy to make. (Mix it on Saturday. Bake it Sunday night. Eat it Monday morning.)
100% Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Bread
¼ cup ground flaxseed
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2 cups spelt flour (spelt flour is simply a variety of whole wheat flour. If you don’t have spelt flour, you can just use regular whole wheat flour)
1 packet granulated yeast (about 1¼ tsp.)
2 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1¾ – 2 cups lukewarm water
Seeds for sprinkling on top (e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, sesame)
- Whisk together the flaxseed, whole wheat flour, spelt flour, yeast and vital wheat gluten.
- Gradually stir in enough water to incorporate all the flour. Do not knead.
- Cover the dough and set aside to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
- The dough can be baked immediately after this initial rise, but if you let it rest in the refrigerator at least overnight, the flavors will develop more.
- When you are ready to bake the bread, lightly grease an 8¼ x 4½-inch loaf pan. Gather up the dough and quickly form it into a loaf shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Plop it into the pan and adjust the shape if needed.
- Let the dough sit in the loaf pan at room temperature for about 2 hours (60 min if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
- About 10 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450*. Paint the top of the loaf with water (I just use my fingers to spread some water over the top). Slash the top of the loaf with a ¼-inch deep, parallel slices. Sprinkle with seed mixture.
- Place loaf in oven and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until brown and firm. Tip from Mom: when the bread is fully cooked, you should be able to “knock” on the top and hear a hollow sound.
- Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely before slicing and eating.
Adapted from the 100% Whole Wheat and Flax Seed Bread in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.