Snowed in and looking for a way to pass the time? Might I suggest baking some bread?
We make a lot of bread in our house. I’d say, in the average week, we make at least two loaves. Which, considering we’re only two people, is quite a bit of bread to get through in seven days (I’m thankful that bread freezes well). We’ve tried a lot of bread recipes, but this recipe has skyrocketed to the top of our must-have list.
Not only is it absolutely beautiful—beautiful enough to serve to company, even—but it’s absolutely delicious, too! The crunchy seeds add such flavor and texture and the combo of ingredients makes a tender, chewy and light bread, that just happens to be 100% whole wheat. With a little touch of salted butter, this bread is the perfect friend to a warm bowl of soup. Which just happens to be exactly what we had for dinner last night. Which just happened to be an absolutely perfect dinner to go with the really unfortunate March snowfall we had last night (c’mon, Spring!).
Interestingly enough, even though we bake a lot of bread, I don’t tend to post a lot of bread recipes. I guess I just don’t feel all that confident in my baking skills. I’ve always said I’m a cook, not a baker and to this day, I struggle with the exact, precise chemistry that is baking. Measuring is hard.
I guess this bread is helping me change my lack of baking confidence, because I swear, it turns out incredible each and every single time I make it. It’s pretty much foolproof. I could probably forget to put the yeast in and it would still be delicious (okay, maybe not).
The real superstar of this bread is the crunchy seed and grain mixture that is on the crust. I honestly change it up every time I make, but my favorite combo so far has been the one that’s photographed here—a mixture of oats, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, millet, sunflower seeds, caraway seeds and fennel seeds. All the other seeds rock, but the caraway and fennel seeds add so much flavor and punch to the bread.
Instead of just sprinkling the seeds on the top, each roll of the braid is coated in the seeds, then the bread is braided, and then it has a second rising time. By doing this, it means there is a really beautiful and crunchy swirl of seeds that goes through the entire middle of the bread. The entire loaf of bread is a nice balance between rustic and graceful beauty, and I think the thin swirl of crunchy, old world grains and seeds in the middle of the fluffy loaf of bread is just another example of that.
Before I spill the beans on this recipe, I do have to mention the butter in these photos for no other reason than I’m totally proud of it. I made it myself! I’m not sure why, but there is something about making my own butter that is really exciting to me. I’ve only done it once before, and that was in 8th grade ag class (country school) where the whole class shook a Tupperware container with cream in it for 30 seconds each until it turned into butter. Then we smeared it onto saltines for us to try. I remember it being insanely delicious then, and my own homemade butter is just as good! Store-bought butter just does not compare. Even our crazy expensive, organic, grass-fed local butter doesn’t compare.
To make the butter, I just poured the cream off of our whole milk share we get each week, put it in the food processor until it was clumpy, then I put it in a Mason jar and shook the beejeebus out of it until it was solid. I poured the buttermilk off, added a little touch of salt and ate it smeared on a slice of this hot-out-of-the-oven bread. And then I did it again. And maybe again. It’s hard to say no to a match made in kitchen heaven.