This Sunflower Seed Bread is the perfect sandwich bread!
Nature is an incredible thing. I’m not just talking about produce and all of the fruits and veggies that you can grow in your backyard…although those are pretty incredible. I’m talking about the Fibonacci Series. The Fibonacci Series is basically nature’s version of the Dewey decimal system. It keeps everything in a nice and predictable order. As a guy who loves to make lists (and cross things off of said lists), I can definitely appreciate order. But the number of ways that the Fibonacci Series shows up in nature is mind-blowing.
To begin, let’s take a trip way back in time. Way back to 3rd grade algebra. The Fibonacci Series is a series of numbers where each integer is the sum of the two previous integers in the list. So it looks something like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…and so on. Pretty simple, right? But what makes this series so amazing to me is the way that it shows up in nature.
Take pine cones for instance. The individual scales of a pine cone are arranged in a spiral, right? And it just so happens that the spiral of the pine cone follows the Fibonacci Series. Nature does indeed do math! The pineapple, fern and artichoke all follow this same ratio, too. I remember learning about this in high school, and now I always think about the Fibonacci Series when I see a pineapple or pine cone. Yes, I am a dork like that. It’s no wonder that I married an engineer!
Well it just so happens that the spiral of seeds in the center of sunflowers also follows this same series. Crazy stuff! Ok, that’s enough nerdy mathematician talk for today. Let’s talk about bread. More specifically, let’s talk about those sunflower seeds and how they were used to make this delicious Sunflower Seed Bread. I’ve always enjoyed sunflower seeds. Unfortunately, I’m not very skilled at eating sunflower seeds. (How those professional baseball players manage to eat a whole mouthful of seeds while spitting out just the shells is beyond me. I tried that once. It didn’t turn out too well.)
One of my favorite ways to use shelled sunflower seeds is on top of salads. If we don’t happen to have any leftovers on hand, then Laura and I usually turn to salads for our weekday lunches. And I often keep a bag of roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds on hand just for topping the salads. However, I decided to make some sandwich bread last week.
It’s been a while since I baked a nice loaf of sandwich bread, so I set out to create a honey whole wheat bread. But as I was reaching for my bag of Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour, I happened to notice the bag of sunflower seeds. Hmm…adding some seeds to the bread sounded like a fun idea. And just like that, this Sunflower Seed Bread was created!
This bread is perfect for sandwiches. It’s baked in loaf pans (the recipe makes 2 loaves), and you can slice it up to whatever thickness you like. As I mentioned above, I used Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour, but I also used an equal amount of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour. If you’ve ever baked with whole wheat flour, then you know that it can easily lead to very dense bread. Not necessarily bad bread. Just really dense. Not exactly what you imagine for a nice sandwich bread, right?
To solve the dense issue, this bread uses both whole wheat flour as well as bread flour. And I’ve also included some oats and a bit of butter in there to soften the bread. And the end result is a light, fluffy loaf of sandwich bread…complete with a nutty flavor and crunch thanks to the addition of the sunflower seeds. And there’s some honey in this bread which lends a wonderful hint of sweetness to the final product. Do give this bread a shot…and do try not to eat it all when it’s still warm out of the oven!
And to really blow your mind…if you follow the family tree of honey bees, you’ll discover none other than the Fibonacci Series. Yeah, nature!
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Sunflower Seed Bread
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1⅓ cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- ⅔ cup unsalted + roasted sunflower seeds hulled (plus more for topping)
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- Using the bowl of a countertop mixer, add oats and milk. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients (honey, eggs, sugar, salt, butter, bread flour, whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds and yeast) to the bowl.
- Stir on low speed for 2-3 minutes, or until dough begins to come together.
- Increase speed to medium and mix for 4-5 more minutes.
- Transfer dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm (85°F) location for 1hour. (Note: Dough will be fairly loose at this stage.)
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured countertop and fold several times. Place dough back into bowl, cover and place back in a warm location for 1 more hour, or until dough has approximately doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces of equal weight. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape the dough into a 9"x9" square. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter) and pinch the seam closed. Place the dough seam-side down into a greased 8"x4" loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
- Cover pans loosely and place in a warm location. Let rest for 45 minutes, or until loaves have risen about 1” over the top of loaf pan.
- Preheat oven to 375°F .
- Spray the top of the loaves lightly with olive oil or baking spray. Sprinkle tops of loaves with 1-2 Tbsp of additional sunflower seeds.)
- Bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove loaves from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before removing from pans. Allow loaves to cool completely before slicing. (Tip: This bread freezes well. Just wrap loaves tightly in plastic wrap once cooled and freeze until needed.)
This Sunflower Seed Bread post was written by me on behalf of Bob’s Red Mill.
The opinions and recipe are all my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!