This is the bread that the kids (and adults) at school love the most. It’s dense and moist with a seriously crunchy crust. The recipe makes two family sized loaves of bread. Goes great with a soup or stew, or spread with sunflower butter and jam, or just a smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt.
Multi-grain Cranberry Sunflower Bread with Flax
Time: 2 days, about 1 hour active. Yield: 2 family sized loaves
3 1/4 Cups warm water divided
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons dry active yeast (not ‘fast acting’), Divided
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup, divided (you can sub honey, or the sugar of your choice but do not leave out, it feeds the yeast)
1 Cup whole rolled oats
1 Cup oat flour
1 Cup flax meal (ground flax seed)
1/2 Cup rice flour (white or brown, but not sweet)
1/2 Cup corn flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons buttermilk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons flaked dulse (a type of seaweed)
5 Cups whole wheat flour pastry flour, divided
8 Ounces sweetened dried cranberries
3 cups unbleached pastry flour, divided
Cornmeal, enough to sprinkle on baking sheet)
1 mug (12oz) ice cold water (for making steam)
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine 3 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of yeast, and the salt, stir once, set aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to proof, meanwhile in a separate bowl combine the oats, oat flour, flax meal, rice flour, corn flour, buttermilk powder, and flaked dulse. Whisk well to combine. When the yeast has proofed add the dry ingredients to the yeast and mix well. Cover with a towel and leave out at room temperature overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375F
Uncover the bread dough, stir it a few times. Combine the 1/4 cup of warm water with the remaining 2 teaspoons of yeast and the remaining maple syrup, mix well and add to the bread dough. In a food processor put 2 cups of the whole wheat flour and all of the cranberries. Process for 1-2 minute until all the cranberries are in very small pieces, add the sunflower seeds to the food processor and pulse a few more times to break the seeds up.
Add the flour/cranberry/sunflower mix to the bread dough along with the remaining 3 cups of whole wheat flour, and start the mixer on the lowest setting when the flour has been incorporated add two cups of the white flour, knead in the mixer for 5-7 minutes. If the bread dough looks to wet slowly add the remaining cup of flour until the dough looks like you can handle it.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and place in a warm location for 45-60 minutes to rise. I sit mine on top of the stove in the back where it can get warmth from the oven.
After the dough has rested and risen, spread a little flour on your work surface, take the dough and knead it by hand for a minute or two, get a feel for it, if it needs a bit more flour add some by dusting it over the dough and kneading. When it feels more smooth and elastic than sticky-stretchy, it’s ready. Split the dough in two (I weigh mine and split it evenly), shape each into a batard (flat (American) football shaped).
Sprinkle the cornmeal onto two baking sheets place the loaves on the sheets, then score the dough with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern and allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
The bread will double in size but not in height, after the 45 minutes place them in the oven on separate shelves, close the oven door quickly to not lose heat. Now, take the mug of ice cold water and working quickly but very carefully, open the oven door aim for the middle to rear of the floor of your oven and throw the water onto it and shut the door. This will create a big blast of steam in the oven which will make the crust of the bread nice and crunchy. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU HAVE AN ELECTRIC OVEN where the element is exposed just above the oven floor. For electric ovens, or if you’re not comfortable throwing water into a hot oven, you can use ice cubes instead. Use a dozen or so ice cubes and toss them onto the bottom of the oven.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until done. You can use a thermometer and pull the bread out when it’s between 180-190F in the middle, or you can take it out and thump the bottom to test for doneness. If you have a convection option in your oven, turn the fan on towards the end to increase browning.
Allow bread to cool for at least a half hour before cutting it open, your patience will be rewarded.