Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunflower Whole Wheat Loaf

I first adapted this recipe many years ago.  It is a hearty whole wheat bread with toasted sunflower seeds inside.  The original recipe called for seeds on top but they always burn for me so I tuck them inside with the buttermilk, the honey, and the organic whole wheat flour.  This is not your dainty finger sandwich kind of bread.  It's the kind you slather with unsalted butter, and maybe some marmalade or homemade jam.  It doesn't get any better than this.  Cut yourself a BIG slice and see what I mean.

This bread is made the traditional way with several rises.  The photo on the left was taken immediately after kneading.  You can see the whole grain goodness.  The photo on the right is after the first rise;  I can tell it's risen enough because the indentation that I made with my finger doesn't collapse.  Then it's de-gassed, turned and proofed again, then formed and turned into the loaf pans.. 
 Just look at that beautiful crumb!

This is definitely a loaf for whole wheat lovers.  Just look at that beautiful crumb!

Sunflower Whole Wheat Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

¼ cup of clover honey
½ cup of buttermilk
1 ¼ cups of hot water (120º F.)
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 packages of dry yeast
3 ¾ cups of whole wheat flour, approx.
¼ cup of vital wheat gluten
½ cup of toasted sunflower seeds, unsalted

Combine the honey, buttermilk, water, and salt. Stir to dissolve the honey. Add the yeast, 2 cups of the flour, vital wheat gluten, and the sunflower seeds. Beat to blend with a wooden spoon or in a heavy duty stand mixer outfitted with the bread hook or flat beater. Add the balance of the flour, ½ cup at a time, working it into the dough. When the dough is a rough mass, lift it onto a floured work surface or leave it in the mixing bowl with a dough hook. Don’t add too much flour. The dough will absorb it and become less sticky as you knead it. It will never get the elasticity of white flour dough; it will be heavier and stickier.

Knead the dough by hand or by mixer for 8 minutes.

Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes to rise.

Remove the wrap and punch down with your fingers. Gently turn the dough over in the bowl and replace the plastic wrap. Let it raise a second time, this time for 40 minutes or until double in size. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan generously.

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and gently press it into an oval the length of the baking pan. Fold the oval in thirds and press the seam together. Gently lift it into the loaf pan, tucking the ends under.

Cover it with another piece of greased plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it rise for the third time. It should have risen about 1 inch above the pan, about 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, as dough is rising in the pan, preheat the oven to 375º F. for 20 minutes prior to baking.
Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the loaf is brown and done.

Cool the loaf in the pan for about 5 minutes. Unmold the loaf onto a wire rack to cool.


  1. The bread looks phenomenal! I miss a nice hearty bread like that. Nothing compares since we've had to go gluten-free. Great pics! I can almost smell the bread through the screen. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That looks so good and would be perfect with the butter and jam. Wish I had some.

  3. I'm wishing I had a slice for breakfast right now. Gorgeous!

  4. great recipe, I love sunflower seeds and have a ton, yummy way to use them up!!!


  5. Oh yum! My mom used to make homemade bread by hand several times/week. I've made a goal to learn how to do that in her memory -- first lesson is tomorrow (yeah!). I'll have to stash this recipe away when I get more experience.

  6. I love the wheat and Sunflower combo. This is going in my "to make" file. thanks!

  7. Sounds and looks dynamite! Going to have to bake this for dinner sometime this week. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Your bread section is AMAZING! I'm a bread baker too and love whole grain breads, but I always add in a bit of white flour for the gluten. Do you ever do that? I'm having fun looking through your blog, Bonnie. Glad I found you.