I haven’t been feeling ultra magical lately. Not with focus, anyway. Like there is power (as we all have power) brewing and burbling but given no direction it just languishes (or worse, comes out negatively). So, I’m changing this. Especially in light of the state of the world right now, it’s so important to meditate on positive magic. Connectivity, and acts of brave love, and hard, dedicated work even when it feels too difficult. To push outwards with golden light, etc etc.
I didn’t necessarily make this bread in order to feel magical at the time. I just found out my neighbour had lost a parent, and felt like she should have something homemade. I don’t even really know her that well, it’s my boyfusband who does… anyway, she doesn’t like sweets, so I figured bread, and it ended up being seed bread because it’s just a recipe I know and trust, and it’s pretty, and hearty.
As an afterthought, and thinking universally, I like the idea of bread filled with seeds, like it could represent new beginnings. So it feels more like a small spell now. And the whole process of bread-making is rarified and holy sometimes, so the energy was imbued from the beginning. I guess maybe one day I’ll get a mechanical mixer but for now, it’s all in the wrists, palms, fingers, one fold and stretch at a time, minute by minute inching towards elasticity. Love’s labour. Spring’s first spell.
Five Seed & Honey Bread
Makes 2 loaves
- 1/3 cup / 45 grams each:
- sunflower seeds
- poppy seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- sesame seeds
- flax seeds
- 1 cup minus 2 tbsp / 225 g whole 35% milk
- 2/3 cup / 158 g water
- 2.5 tsp / 7.5 g active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp / 34 g canola oil
- ¼ cup / 91 g honey
- 4 cups + 3 tbsp / 545 g flour
- 2 tsp / 13 g fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350℉. Measure out milk into a large bowl. Measure the flour and salt into a slightly less big bowl.
On five separate pans (pie plates work great for this), toast seeds until aromatic and slightly golden in colour (the smaller seeds should finish first). Right away, stir the hot seeds into the milk, which will raise to temperature enough to make it a nice place for yeast. Add yeast, honey, water and oil to the seed-milk, and stir. Then wait, for at least 20 minutes (but longer is ok), until the mixture looks frothy and alive.
Add the flour and mix with a strong spoon until it seems more useful to use your hand, then use your hand. Turn the dough out onto a wooden surface with no flour at first, adding flour only if it’s needed. The dough should be soft but not wet, and not sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is very elastic and passes the windowpane test.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball with a tight skin and turn to cover it with oil, then cover with plastic wrap, and let rise (proof) until nearly doubled in size. I like to do an overnight proof for the improved flavour, but you could also let it rise in a warm place for an hour+ if you’d like a speedy one-day process.
Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 2 pieces (630 grams each, IIRC), then shape into pointy batards (football shapes). Youtube is good for visual instructions on this point. Place them on a parchment-lined baking tray that is sprinkled with fine semolina or flour, spray the loaves lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until almost doubled again.
Set rack in center and preheat to 425℉. Set a small metal pan filled with hot/boiling water on the bottom of the oven. Unwrap the breads and slash them with an exacto knife or sharp knife, making 1 or 2 cuts to allow for expansion. Put them in the oven and turn the temperature down to 375℉. Bake, turning once or twice, until the loaves are deep golden brown, and sound somewhat hollow when the bottom is tapped. Set on a rack to cool completely before eating (if you can).