I am a bit of a baking nut. I love baking cakes and cookies, quiches and casseroles. But my absolute favorite is bread – yeast bread! My father is Italian, so we never had a meal without bread. Bread is essential to the Italian table!
One of my favorite ingredients in bread-baking is cornmeal or polenta. Polenta gives bread a nice golden tint and it adds a little crunch, especially when the bread is toasted. I also like to add seeds to my dough. Seeds contribute protein as well as a warm nutty flavor. Often I will put in a dash of seed oil too. I especially like pumpkin seed oil as it has this lovely dark greenish brown color that gives the bread an extra nuttiness and a lovely rich tone.
Here is a bread recipe I have used for several years now. It started out as a cornmeal bread recipe, but has slowly evolved into a multigrain seed bread. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- 1.5 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. soft butter
- 1 tsp. pumpkin seed oil (or other seed oil if you prefer)
- ½ cup polenta (or any cornmeal)
- ½ cup oatmeal (this adds moisture)
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour (or all purpose white flour)
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- ¼ cup hulled pumpkins seeds (or sunflower seeds if you prefer)
- 2.5 tsp. yeast
If you have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment or a bread machine, just throw your ingredients together – keeping in mind your machine’s instructions – and let the machine do the kneading. When the kneading is done, let the dough rise for about 45 min. or until it has doubled in size. I like to cover the dough with a damp dish towel. (If you prefer hand kneading, see below.)
Once the dough has doubled, pour it out onto a board or countertop. At this point shape the dough into a loaf and then roll it over a seed mixture. The seeds stick to the dough and create a lovely pattern. (I learned this from my dear friend, Lone.)
Place the loaf in a bread pan lightly coated with oil and dusted with cornmeal. (If you have a baguette pan like me, you can divide the loaf in two. You won't need the extra dusting of cornmeal if you are using a baguette pan.)
Preheat your oven to 385 Fahrenheit (about 195 C) and let the dough rise again. This time it should need about 25-30 minutes.
Once the dough has risen, bake it for about 25 minutes. (This may be less if you have separated the dough into two loaves.)
Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing. Yum!
A note about hand kneading:
If you prefer to fully experience hand mixing and kneading, mix the wet ingredients with the yeast and salt, and then slowly add the flours and seeds. Once your dough is well mixed, pour it out onto a large flat surface and knead away! Here is a great instruction video from epicurious on how to knead: