Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Bread

We are almost completely out of bread, so I have to make two new loaves this morning. Eddie bought a brand new Tanita scale that can do pretty magical things, so from now on, my recipes will be super accurate and even more reliable. Measurements to one tenth of a gram are not normally required, but when you are making bread, it comes in handy. And it doesn’t only do that, it can switch to liquid measurements for water and milk. Now there! Of course I’m going to continue to give you alternative ways of measuring very small quantities.

Fool that I am, I made not just one, but two loaves pretty much at the same time, with the entirely intended result that one is slightly over risen and the other one just a bit flatter than normal. That’s what happens when you go need to go shower while one bakes and the other rises. I’ve posted the plain white loaf recipe before, but in case you missed it, I have updated it and attached it to the bottom of this post. Just click on “The Incomparable Toast”

Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Bread

makes one loaf
I’m using a cake tin for this, just because I haven’t bought a bread tin.
(25cm x 11cm x H 7cm, measured at the top of the tin)

For the poolish:

  • 100g plain organic flour
  • 15g yeast
  • 120ml water

“And What’s a Poolish?” I hear you ask. It’s a pre-ferment that will make your bread rise better, more evenly and for those of us who don’t have 3 month sourdough time most importantly – faster!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour with the yeast, pour in the water, stir to mix in well, cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes. This is a very wet polish, just so you know. While the poolish is rising, prepare your flour mix and get the water ready.

For the loaf:

  • 200g plain organic flour
  • 50g rye flour
  • 30g sugar
  • 6g /1 heaped tsp salt
  • 40g pumpkin seeds
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 150ml water

Put the flour into a bowl, add the rye, the sugar and the salt. In a separate bowl, measure the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Quickly process the seeds in a food processor or blender. I give mine three quick blitzes only. The idea is to have some fine and some coarse seeds and if there are still some whole seeds left in it, then that’s good too.

Now is the time to preheat your oven. Use fan forced heat, if you have the option and set the temperature to the maximum. You want at least 200ºC. Between 220ºC and 250ºC is even better, but most ovens don’t deliver that, even if they promise it.

Pour the seeds into the flour mix and stir it all to get an even mixture. Once the poolish is ready and showing bubbles, pour the flour and seed mix on top of the poolish, attach the hook to the mixer and set it to the lowest speed. Pour in the water in a steady stream and once the flour has all been absorbed turn the speed to the next level and leave the machine to knead the dough for 15 minutes.

While this is kneading away, you can butter and flour your tin. Here’s a properly floured tin. I use butter rather than oil to coat my tins. It simply sticks better and doesn’t slide down the sides. There is no need to sift the flour for the bread dough, but I recommend you sift it into the tin and also on top of the bread. It will be much easier to distribute.

It may not be the easiest thing to see, but have a look at the sides of the bowl and you’ll notice how the dough comes together and goes from a liquid mess to a doughy mess.

The dough will at first look very sticky and stringy, but after 15 minutes of kneading it will have come together nicely. Use a scraper to move it into the tin. It is still going to be really sticky, but should pull off the scraper quite easily. Sift some flour on top of your loaf, flour your hands and try to push the loaf into the tin so it is spead evenly. Dust some more flour on top and leave it to rise for 20 minutes until it has mushroomed out of the tin. Put it into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the loaf sound hollow when tapped.

This can sometimes be a little trickier than it sounds (pardon the pun) and a loaf that seemed to sound pretty hollow turns out a little less so once it has been out of the oven for a while. Now, the perfectionist shrugs and vows to do better next time, but we practical people cut off a slice when we are not sure, check it and if necessary return the loaf to the oven for another 5 minutes (ten, if it has cooled a lot). It’s not ideal, but it’s better than under-cooked bread any day.

One more tip before I sign off for the day; If you feel that the bread is too airy for your liking, there are a number of things you can go to get a much denser texture:
– Reduce the water for the poolish from 120ml to 100ml
– Reduce the water for the loaf from 150ml to 120ml
– Increase the amount of rye from 50g to 100g
– Increase the amount of flour for the loaf from 200g to 250g
You will probably be able to do two of these at the same time (especially reducing water in both), but do three and you’ll be in a bit of trouble, do all 4 and you’ll end up with a brick.

You may have noticed that I haven’t learnt how to edit this list, so the system has decided for me. Check out The Incomparable Toast if you want to make a second loaf:

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