This is not the loaf of bread to make when you want an airy slice of white bread. This is the loaf of bread to make when you want a hearty slice of bread full of flavorful seeds with a dense and chewy texture. The crust is just crisp enough to crackle upon touching—does anyone remember that scene it Ratatouille?—but not so crisp as to cut the roof of your mouth.
The dough starts out with a simple sponge of flour, water, and yeast that sits overnight until foamy and risen, which adds another dimension of flavor and makes the bread taste like it came from a professional bakery. Some whole wheat flour, honey, quinoa, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds make up the rest of the dough, adding a unique texture to the loaf.
After the typical rising, shaping the dough into boules, and proofing, the boule is slashed on top with a sharp knife so that you can decide in which particular places the crust should expand while baking—a control freak’s dream.
To get the rustic appearance and crust, the boules bake on a preheated baking stone in a very hot oven with a pan of water beneath them to add some moisture to the baking environment. After half an hour or so, two gorgeous loaves will appear from your oven.
Once you suffer through an agonizing hour of waiting for the boules to cool before slicing, it’s really up to you how you serve them. We had them for dinner alongside a cheese and dried fruit plate with salad and a polenta tart, but this bread also forms the basis of my new favorite snack.
Toast a slice or two of this bread and top it with ripe avocado slices and a sprinkle of smoked salt. The mild, creamy taste of the avocados complement the crunchy seeds of the bread, and the smoked salt adds the perfect level of savory flavor to the toast. It’s an incredibly healthful snack that is both simple and filling. Served alongside a crisp green salad, it makes for a perfect lunch, while on its own is an afternoon snack to look forward to at the end of the day.
Whole Wheat Seeded Boule
Adapted from Flour’s recipe for Multigrain Sourdough
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
¾ cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups water
3 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
2 ½ teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
5 tablespoons ground flaxseed
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
- For the sponge: Combine all the sponge ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until a sticky dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let set at room temperature for 8-16 hours.
- For the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and the water and mix on low speed until a dry, shaggy dough forms, 2-3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and let sit for 10 minutes so the dough can absorb the water and become more hydrated.
- Add the sponge, honey, and yeast to the dough and turn the mixer to medium speed, letting the ingredients become well incorporated, 3-4 minutes. Add the salt and vinegar and knead for 3-4 more minutes, until the dough is smooth and cohesive. Add the flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and quinoa, and knead on medium speed until the seeds are well incorporated, 3-4 minutes. Turn off the mixer, remove the dough from the dough hook, and let it fall back into the bowl. Cover the dough with a clean dishtowel and place it in a warm spot to rise for 2-3 hours—a turned off oven with the light on works well. The dough will not quite double in size, but it will have risen noticeably.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Take each half and form it into a round ball by tucking the edges underneath while moving it in a circular motion with your hands on the countertop. When the dough rounds have a taught surface, place them each on its own piece of parchment, about 8 ½ by 11 inches. Place the parchments on an inverted baking sheet, cover the dough rounds with a clean dishtowel and let rise for 2 hours, until relaxed and slightly puffy. 30 minutes before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- When the dough is ready to bake, place a rimmed baking sheet in the bottom of the oven and have a pitcher of water nearby. Slash the dough rounds by creating 4 perpendicular lines in the center of each loach with a sharp knife, as seen in the pictures above. Gently slide the dough rounds onto the baking stone, fill the bottom baking sheet with water from the pitcher, and quickly close the oven dough. Bake the rounds for 28-32 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven, discard the parchment, and let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.