I often find the seeds in breads a distraction, but in this case they make the loaf. The generous quantity of roasted pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds lends a delicious and very distinctive nuttiness—not to mention crunchy texture, eye appeal, and protein. The bread is baked in a covered pot for most of its time in the oven, which crisps the crust and the seeds on it, but also prevents them from burning.
Be sure to use very fresh, appealing-tasting seeds for this recipe. If you can only find raw, unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toss them with 1/4 teaspoon corn oil or canola oil and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and roast at 325°F (160°C), stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, 7 to 9 minutes.–Nancy Baggett
Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Flaxseed Boule Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 5 hours, not including 1 day chilling/rising and cooling | Makes 1 large loaf
- For the bread
- 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached white bread flour
- 1/4 cup flax seeds, preferably golden
- 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
- 1 teaspoon instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
- 3 tablespoons clover honey or other mild honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for coating dough top and pan
- 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if needed
- 1/3 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 1/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt or other coarse crystal salt, optional
- Cornstarch glaze or 1 egg white, beaten, or 2 tablespoons liquid egg substitute
- For the cornstarch glaze
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Scant 2/3 cup cold water, divided
- A pinch salt
- For the first rise
- 1. In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the whole wheat flour, bread flour, flax seeds, salt, and yeast. In another bowl or measuring cup, thoroughly whisk the honey and oil into the water. Vigorously stir the mixture into the bowl with the flours, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the dough is thoroughly blended. If the ingredients are too dry to mix together, gradually add in just enough more ice water to facilitate mixing, as the dough should be slightly stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more whole wheat flour to stiffen it.
- 2. Brush or spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, refrigerate for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
- For the second rise
- 3. Working in the bowl and turning the dough as you work, sprinkle about half the pumpkin and sunflower seeds over the surface. With lightly oiled hands, work in the seeds and fold the dough over to fully incorporate them. Continue working in the remaining seeds, folding over the dough until all the seeds are incorporated and fairly evenly distributed throughout. Sprinkle the dough with a little whole wheat flour. Press and smooth it into the dough, shaping it into a ball as you work.
- 4. Oil a 3 1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven or similar round, ovenproof pot. Transfer the ball to the pot. Dusting the dough with more flour as needed to prevent stickiness, tuck the edges under firmly all the way around, forming a smooth, high-domed round loaf about 6 1/2 inches in diameter. Brush off excess flour, then brush all over with Cornstarch Glaze (or egg white wash), then immediately sprinkle the surface with the remaining pumpkin and sunflower seeds for garnish. Using well-oiled kitchen shears or a serrated knife, cut a 2 1/2-inch diameter, 1/2-inch-deep circle in the top. Cover the pot with its lid.
- 5. For a 2- to 4-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours, then let stand at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough doubles from its deflated size.
- 6. Fifteen minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450°F (230°C). Generously brush or spray the loaf with water.
- 7. Lower the heat to 425°F (220°C). Bake on the lower rack, covered, for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the loaf is lightly browned. Uncover, and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more, until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few particles on the end (or the center registers 208° to 210°F (98° to 99°C) on an instant-read thermometer). Then bake for 5 minutes longer to ensure the center is done. Cool in the pot on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf onto the rack; cool thoroughly.
- Make the cornstarch glaze
- 8. In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and about half the water until the cornstarch is smooth. Stir in the remaining water and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- 9. Reduce the heat until the mixture simmers gently and continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until it thickens slightly and becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.
- 10. Let cool to room temperature before using; the glaze will thicken as it stands. Use immediately, brushing it lightly but evenly over the loaf top using a pastry brush (or dabbing it on with a paper towel). Or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Let warm to room temperature, then, if necessary, thin with a little warm water before using.
- 11. This bread tastes good warm but will cut much better when cool. Cool completely before storing. To maintain the crisp crust, store draped with a clean tea towel or in a heavy paper bag. Or to prevent the loaf from drying out, store airtight in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil: The crust will soften, but can be crisped by heating the loaf, uncovered, in a 400°F (200°C) oven for a few minutes. The bread will keep at room temperature for 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.
Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Flaxseed Boule Recipe © 2009 Nancy Baggett. Photo © 2009 Alexandra Grablewski. All rights reserved.