I won’t do a long prelude here today, as writing this recipe makes me hungry.
I adapted this recipe from another one called Icelandic Multigrain Bread, which calls for cereal grains (such as bulgur, rye, millet, and the like). I intend to try it one day with more, errr, exotic grains, but the ones I happened to have on hand a few weeks ago were oats and sunflower seeds. Hence, sunflower oatmeal bread.
Out of all the breads I’ve sold at market, this is the one that got the most enthusiastic reaction from both me and husband. I brought home an extra loaf, which we promptly sliced and ate untoasted, then looked at each other, wide-eyed. “Oh my gosh. This is amazing.” The bread is super soft, yet hearty with the addition of oats, and is delightfully punctuated by a light sunflower crunch with every bite. It makes an amazing toast, sandwich bread, and all around eatin’ bread.
Needless to say, I’ll be making more for market, and definitely for us. Meanwhile, I’ll give you the recipe if you want to try it yourself at home from afar.
The steaming process is usual for many bread recipes, especially French breads and sourdoughs, and creates a crusty exterior on the bread (versus a dull, soft one). But, fun fact: Icelandic ovens (as in, those in Iceland) often have natural steam piped into their home ovens, which means they get crusty bread without even trying. So if you’re not steaming your bread, you’re not making true Icelandic bread. What are you doing with your life?
Make your life better with some steam and tasty bread. Onwards with the recipe!
Sunflower Oat Bread
You can use other cereal grains in this bread, as well. Your soaking time may be longer, depending on the grains.
you will need:
- ¾ c rolled oats (not quick oats), plus more for sprinkling loaves
- ¼ c hulled sunflower seeds, plus more for sprinkling loaves (you can toast these or leave them raw)
- 3 c hot water
- 4 ½ tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ c warm water (110 degrees F)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5-6 cups all-purpose or bread flour (you can sub 1-2 c whole wheat flour, but the bread will be denser)
- Place rolled oats and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl, and add hot water. Allow to sit until the water comes to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar, and warm water, and allow to sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add to the cooled oat and sunflower seed mixture.
- Stir in the oil, salt, and half of the flour with a wooden spoon until smooth. Continue adding the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough will not readily absorb more flour (it’ll be stiff and very hard to stir). Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking from the surface or your hands. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and place a cast iron skillet, cookie sheet, or baking pan on the bottom rack. If you’re using a baking stone, you can place this in the oven at this point for preheating, as well. If not, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (You can also dust the sheet with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking.)
- Punch down dough, divide the dough in half, and lightly knead to form two oblong loaves. Place onto a floured bread peel or prepared cookie sheets. Brush the loaves lightly with water, then sprinkle with a generous spoonful of rolled oats and sunflower seeds. Allow to rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Using a sharp knife, lame, or pair of kitchen scissors, slash the top of the dough to create vents (if you don’t do this, the bread will make its own vents, anyway). Slide the loaves onto the hot baking stone, or place cookie sheet in the oven. Carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the cast iron skillet in the oven (it will create lots of steam!), close the oven door, and bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped, or the internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees F.