When I think of homemade bread, I think of lazy Sunday mornings spent covered in flour with messy hair and no intention of showering. When the bread comes out of the oven, I slice that perfect piece out of the middle and slather it with butter and jam. Accompanied by an egg and a cup of good coffee, a simple weekend meal doesn’t get much better.
When John and I were living in Portland, we discovered the absolute best coffee shop in town. Yes, there are plenty: West coasters take their coffee seriously. But we found the absolute best.
Its name is Heart. Nestled in a little strip on Burnside sits the quaint little black and white shop with huge window fronts, a giant exposed roaster in the center of the store, newspapers strewn about in messy stacks, a staff of blasé hipsters, and the best lattes in the world. What does this have to do with bread? A lot, in fact.
Heart Coffee is all about supporting local, as are most Portland businesses, which is why they carried the only the freshest local baked goods from around the area. Homemade whoopie pies, cinnamon rolls, giant wrapped muffins with berries plump and gushing out the side, and – our favorite – muesli toast.
Muesli simply means mixed granola – fruit, nuts, seeds, oats; whatever suits your fancy. But what few people experience is muesli in toast, which creates a euphoric combination of flavors and a sensational crunch that makes you resent regular toasts forevermore. Slather your slice with butter and honey and you have a near-perfect breakfast in tow.
Every Sunday morning before church, John and I would invite friends to meet us at Heart for coffee and a chat. Sometimes no one was quite awake. Sometimes it was too loud to hear yourself talk. Sometimes no one showed up but us. But there was always, always a fresh loaf of muesli bread waiting to be thick sliced, toasted, and served alongside soft butter and local honey.
Pair that with a perfectly-crafted latte and Sunday mornings were never so awesome as this.
This loaf is a rustic style, but you could easily split into two small loaf pans to pull off a more formal shape. I, however, prefer the former.
The little raisins puffed out the side, which reminded me why it’s smart to keep them toward the center of the loaf. Else they get crisp and require dusting off before eating. Consider yourself tipped off to this little trick. Your thanks, my welcome.
I was so pleased with the way this batch turned out. Crusty on the outside, warm and soft on the inside with plenty of crunchy, sweet notes from the fruit and nuts. I lathered mine with a little butter and honey and it was a dream. But once it sets for a few days, it makes the perfect base for a french toast bake (recipe to come soon).
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 3 cups unbleached flour + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 3/4 tablespoons fast-acting yeast (~1 pack)
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- Combine warm water (like bath water, or 110 degrees F / 43 C), yeast, salt and flours in a large mixing bowl and stir. The result will be a sticky, rough dough. If using a stand mixer, beat at medium speed for about a minute. Otherwise just use a spoon to stir until well combined.
- Lift the dough out and lightly grease the bowl with nonstick spray or olive oil. Cover and let rise in the refrigerator for two hours. Alternatively, let rise for 2 hours at room temp and 2 hours in the fridge. I went straight for the fridge to save time.
- Once risen, lightly sprinkle the dough with flour and transfer to a floured work surface. Knead a few times and then add pumpkin seeds, almonds and raisins. Knead until until just combined, trying to keep the add-ins on the inside of the loaf, or else they’ll get too crisp while baking.
- Place on parchment-lined baking stone or lightly greased baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; to help keep the dough moist. Let rest for 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C) while the dough rests. Place a metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready.
- When ready to bake, slash the bread 2 or 3 times with a knife, making a cut about ½-inch deep.
- Place bread in oven and carefully pour hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. Expect it to bubble and steam; then close oven door quickly.
- Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, or until deep, golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack. Store leftovers in a plastic bag at room temp.
adapted from king arthur