Sunflower-Sesame-Flax-Chia Seed Peasant Ciabatta

I don’t usually post recipes, but several folks have asked about my bread recipes, so here’s my latest experiment. What I love about this recipe is there is NO kneading. Enjoy!

Deb’s Sunflower-Sesame-Flax-Chia Seed Peasant Ciabatta
(adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by J. Hertzberg and Z. Francois)

Basic Peasant Bread Dough (makes four 1-pound loaves – can be halved)

  • 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons yeast (I use active dry – not instant)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 1/2 cups unbleached flour or bread flour

I use my stand mixer with the dough hook. Mixing the dough: In a 5 or 6 quart steel bowl, put in the water and add the yeast and salt. Start the mixer on low (1). Add the whole wheat flour, then the unbleached flour, one cup at a time, until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough.

Next comes the “Deb” part of the recipe: I experiment with all kinds of additions (from oats to soaked bulgur to herbs to nuts to seeds of all kinds), but for this recipe I add directly to the dough mixture:

  •  3T. sesame seeds (mixed white and black)
  •  3T. flax seeds
  • 3T. Chia seeds
  • 1/3 to ½ c. raw sunflower seeds

Increase mixer speed to 2 for about 30 seconds to a minute. The dough should be “wet” – or slightly sticky – rather than dry to touch, and when you lift the dough hook it should slowly peel away from the hook and fall into the bowl. If it’s too dry, add a T. or two of water and incorporate on low speed.

Transfer the dough to a large dough-rising bucket (I use this one ) or any other large plastic or glass container with a lid. It should be big enough for the dough to double or triple in size. Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut – need to allow air to escape. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 2.5 to 3 hours to rise. It should rise and then level off at the top on its own, but appear very fluffy and bubbly.

Next – you have two options: 1 – Chill the dough in the fridge (makes it easier to handle) or 2 – use it right away. You can actually leave it in the fridge and use portions of it as you wish for up to a week (it gets sourdough-like), but I like to make the bread right away.

To make the loaves:

Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour – just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out. I use my hands and scoop out ¼ of the dough (about a pound or grapefruit size) or cut it off with a scissors.

Here’s the important part – DON’T handle it much. Quickly (less than 30 seconds) form it into a ball and place it on a corn-mealed surface (I use a pizza peel because that’s how I transfer it to the oven). Repeat for as many loaves as you want to make.

Let the loaves rest for 20 minutes if dough has not been refrigerated, at least 40 minutes if it has been refrigerated. It will rise a little more here.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the center racks (I use 2 stones on two racks when I do four loaves at once – two per stone). Put a metal broiler tray on the bottom rack (this is for holding a cup of hot water – which you will add when you put the loaves in the oven – to steam during baking).

After the loaves have rested, slash the tops with a serrated knife and slide them onto the preheated stones. Add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color (internal temp should be 200ºF). Allow the loaves to cool on a rack until they are room temperature.

Experiment on your own – use all kinds of additions, different flours, whatever you like. It’s what I like about baking – I can get creative. Enjoy!

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