No-Knead Pumpkin-Sunflower Seed Bread

This hearty no-knead pumpkin-sunflower seed bread gets its crunch and flavor from pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. Healthy and kid-friendly.

Two slices of no-knead pumpkin-sunflower seed bread on a plate, behind the rest of the loaf

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

No-Knead Pumpkin-Sunflower Seed Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 5 H
  • Makes 1 large loaf
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  • For the bread
  • For the cornstarch glaze


For the first rise

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Prep the oven and bread

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.

Bake and cool the bread

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

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.

Reduce the heat until the mixture simmers gently and continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until it thickens slightly and becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.

Glaze and top the bread

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).

Sprinkle the reseved pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds over the glaze pressing on any that fall off. Let dry.

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    How to Store the Bread

    • 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.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    I’m a big fan of Jim Lahey’s famous no-knead bread recipe. The second rise in this recipe didn’t yield any noticeable difference, and it meant I had to wait a couple of extra hours to eat fresh bread! That being said, I’m a notoriously impatient baker…a very bad combination. The loaf was beautiful to look at and the smell of it baking drove me insane. The texture was great, a nice firm crumb. The only thing that would improve the loaf would be some sweetness in the form of raisins or dried apricots. I’ll definitely make it again.

    Bread making has been a passion of mine since I first started to learn how to bake nearly two decades ago. I’m always fascinated by the chemical reactions that take place when yeast is brought out of its dormant state. It allows the dough to rise lively, even after being pressed, pulled, and punched down.

    Once again, I wasn’t disappointed by the active display of elasticity this dough performed, and certainly pleased with the outcome of the bread itself. This hearty pumpkin-sunflower seed bread carries a nutty flavor throughout, which is detected in each crunch and munch you take.

    Because of its firm texture and delicious flavor, this bread would make a great sandwich with fresh cold cuts or just tomatoes and cheese. In addition, this loaf is packed with nutrition—essential fats from the seeds and fiber from the flaxseed and wheat flour. If you’re a bread lover as I am, and are in search for some wholesome fuel, this bread is for you.

    This no-knead pumpkin-sunflower seed bread was excellent. It looked gorgeous and was hearty and satisfying without tasting, er, healthy.

    I’ve made a lot of variations on the no-knead recipe published to such acclaim a few years ago by the New York Times, and this is at or near the top of my list now. It browned beautifully and didn’t develop an overly thick bottom crust as does another no-knead recipe for wheat bread I’ve used.

    As with many other no-knead varieties, the rise times seem pretty flexible. I forgot about the bread after I put it in the fridge for the first rise, resulting in about a 14-hour first rise! Undeterred, I pulled it out of the fridge and proceeded as the recipe directed with no ill effects. I will say that the step of “folding” the seeds into the dough is an awful lot like kneading, but since I kind of like kneading; it didn’t bother me a bit.

    This pumpkin-sunflower seed bread was a fabulous loaf. I’ve made bread only a few times prior to this.

    This recipe was easy to follow and produced a beautiful loaf. The outside was definitely crunchy-munchy with a superb crust. The interior of the loaf had a hearty, yet soft crumb. Those that shared this loaf with me enjoyed it very much; said that it tasted healthy and hearty yet wasn’t overboard “health nut” tasting! One taster did comment that the only negative is that it’s a messy loaf.

    It’s excellent warm as well as room temperature. The seeds make for a perfect combination. I did all of the maximum rises (including the 10 hours in the refrigerator for the first rise and the 24 hours in the refrigerator for the second rise.) I’d be interested to vary these times next time I bake this bread to see the effects. I very much like that these varying times were included–fits well for any schedule. Wonderful. I will make it again and again! Thank you Nancy Baggett (and the staff of Leite’s Culinaria).


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    1. I love rustic yeast breads. I found a way to incorporate actual pumpkin into such breads: dice any winter squash and toss it with salt. This causes the cubes to lose moisture and shrivel like raisins, which you then knead into a finished dough. I got this unusual technique from a little book: Confessions of a French Baker by Peter Mayle and Gerard Auzet. The recipe may not be for beginner bakers, but it tastes great with savory-sweet chunks of pumpkin studding the loaf.

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