My Dad is the bread baker in our family. After almost two years of sourdoughing with great regularity, he can now churn out a stellar loaf like it’s no big deal. My parents went on holiday last month and I was given the task of feeding Sassy, Dad’s starter culture, a task I only very slightly messed up. I am happy to report that Sassy survived and has since formed a number of stellar loaves. Apparently Sassy is pretty resilient.
Dad’s talent in the bread department remains unrivalled and you know what? I haven’t fancied rivalling him until recently. My desire to have a starter of my own, a sister for Sassy, is growing. But until then I’ll eat thick slabs of perfect sourdough, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or a spread of butter and sea salt when visiting.
And there’s also sourdough bread alternatives, like my quick brown seeded soda rolls and this obnoxiously nutritious nut, seed and oat loaf…
It’s always encouraging when experiments turn out swimmingly. My first two attempts at this recipe, inspired by Sarah’s Life Changing Loaf and Green Kitchen Stories’ bread, were a hot mess. Adding too much water in version one resulted a flaxy slop that I could not bring myself to eat. Adding too much olive oil in version two resulted in a oily slop that I absolutely could bring myself to eat…standing over the sink devouring handfuls of toasty, olive oil-drenched nuts and seeds. Oh man, that was good… But a loaf it was not, so back to the mixing bowl I went.
Versions three, four and five were much more civilised, and I’m here to present you with my final beloved loaf. It holds together oh so well, and is just the prettiest thing. Especially when made with little pinenut studs, a punch of pistachio green and dark poppy seed freckles. Staring into the creamy heart of an almond sliced down the middle feels like taking a deeeeeeeep breath of fresh air. Almonds = oxygen. There’s some science for you.
Yes, I am terribly fond of this preparation, though it does require some time prepping and pausing, each step being imperative for the integrity of the loaf to ensure it holds together. And we all like our nuts to have integrity, so…yeah, follow the instructions. And when you do, your slice will be dense and sturdy and positively stuffed full of goodness to keep you going for HOURS. This is my go-to lunch when I have a few clients back-to-back. My favourite pairing for this nut, seed and oat loaf is avocado. Then there’s hummus and sharp cheddar also. Fresh ricotta and a drizzle of honey is a predictably scrumptious sweet serving suggestion. Do let me know if you have any ideas for crazy good toppings I should try. I am all ears.
I have been waiting a while to share this loaf with you. Forgive me, there’s been too many things going on in this kitchen! Good things, indeed. But now it’s time to loaf.
p.s. More of my bread thoughts are over on Food for Thought today. This time it’s all about sourdough and why you should get into it. You can read the article here (and scroll down for part 1, as mentioned in this post).
Nut, Seed and Oat Loaf
Makes 1 loaf (using a loaf tin ~9.5cm x 19cm)
Note: make sure you weigh the nuts. I included cup measurements as a guide, but different nuts weigh different amounts. Also, make sure your nuts are unsalted.
2/3 cup Flaxmeal*
4 tablespoons Chia Seeds
2 cups warm Water
100g (1 cup) Rolled Oats
300g (~2 cups)** mixed Nuts and Seeds (try hazelnuts, pinenuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, etc)
140g (1 cup)** Almonds
40g (4 tablespoons) tablespoons Sunflower and/or Pumpkin Seeds
4 tablespoons Poppy Seeds
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* Flaxmeal = ground flaxseeds and is found in health food shops or the health food aisle of supermarkets. It looks like this. You should most certainly get some and use it when baking. It’s one of my pantry staples.
** weigh your nuts! “1 cup” can mean very different things depending on what nuts you use.
1. Combine the flaxmeal, chia seeds and water in a bowl, stir then set aside to gel for 15 minutes.
2. Place the rolled oats in a food processor and blitz until very fine. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
3. Roughly chop the nuts, leaving good sized chunks (alternatively you can gently blitz them in a food processor, just be sure to not grind them to a powder, you want rough chunks). Place the nuts in the mixing bowl with the oats and add the sunflower/pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds and salt.
4. When the flax mixture has sat for 15 minutes, add this to the dry ingredients with the olive oil, and stir everything well to combine. Let the mixture sit for one hour.
5. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius and grease then line a loaf tin with baking paper, generously with bits hanging over the sides so the loaf will be easy to lift out.
6. After an hour, press the mixture firmly into the lined baking tin (it won’t rise, so don’t worry if you fill it high!). Place it into the hot oven and bake for 65-75 minutes (depending on how high you pack it) until golden on top and hollow sounding when tapped (you shouldn’t need to cover it so it doesn’t over-brown but do watch it if things are browning too quickly). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for ~20 minutes, then lift if out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (this usually takes a further 20 minutes and is a very important step! Trust me, slicing too early will result in a loaf that doesn’t hold).
7. When cool, slice with a sharp bread knife and enjoy with avocado, cheddar cheese and hummus, or ricotta and honey. Or whatever you wish!
Store it in a cool place, wrapped tightly and eat within two days. Or wrap slices individually and freeze them. My freezer is stocked with slices, which Ben and I pop in the toaster for a fast, crisp, crunchy, delicious bite.