YIELD: Makes 1 12-inch braided loaf
1/3 cup – four-grain cereal
1 T – flax seeds
1/2 cup – stone-ground whole wheat flour
3/4 cup – amber beer
soaker, room temperature
1 tsp. – active dry yeast
2/3 cup – filtered water
3 T – honey
3/4 cup – unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup – stone-ground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup – stone-ground rye flour
1/4 cup + 1 T – raw pumpkin seeds, toasted and chopped, divided
1/4 cup – raw sunflower seeds, toasted and chopped, divided
1 T – kosher salt
egg wash (1 egg + 1 T water, beaten)
coarse sea salt, for garnish
Make the soaker the night before to hydrate the four-grain cereal and develop the dough’s complex flavor.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread the cereal on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, or until it has browned slightly. Pour the cereal into a medium bowl. Add the flax seeds, flour and beer, and whisk until no lumps remain.
Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 10 hours.
To make the dough, lightly oil a medium bowl with canola oil and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the soaker, yeast, filtered water and honey on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the flours, pumpkin and sunflower seeds (reserving 2 T of the pumpkin seeds and 1 T of the sunflower seeds to use as garnish) and kosher salt.
Switch to the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 10 minutes. The dough will ball at the base of the hook. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the dough in a place that is about 75°F and let it rise for 2 hours. Because this is a fairly heavy dough, it will rise but not double in size.
Transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and punch it down with your hands. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each piece into a 10-inch-long rope. Line up three strands side by side and, starting at one end, weave them into a braid. Be careful not to weave them too tightly because the bread must be able to expand as it rises and bakes. Pinch the ends together to form a seal, then tuck them under. Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof for about 1 hour.
About 20 minutes before baking, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Brush the loaf lightly with the egg wash, then sprinkle with the reserved pumpkin and sunflower seeds and sea salt. Using steam at the beginning of the bake will help the loaf expand to its fullest potential before the crust sets.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaf is deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Our four-grain cereal mix includes whole cracked wheat, organic steel-cut oats, whole rye grits, and whole barley grits, but you can create your own combination.
Recipe courtesy of Leslie Mackie of Macrina Bakery in Kent Washington