Inspired by the blog Jo Cooks, this recipe is a great introduction to bread-making, with no kneading required and only a few ingredients for a healthy, crusty, artisan-style bread. With a crispy exterior and soft interior, this loaf will be an instant favourite and makes for a fun quarantine weekend project.
What is a Dutch oven?
A Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dutch ovens are usually made of seasoned cast iron.
Why use a Dutch oven?
Dutch ovens are perfect for bread-making because they allow you to replicate the direct heat of professional stone hearth oven, and the heat remains much more constant than that of a conventional oven. They also trap more steam inside than can be achieved by putting a pan of water into a regular oven, which ventilate and thereby allow steam to escape. Especially for a wet dough, the Dutch oven ensures that humidity will stay inside.
Why is steam so important?
Steam keeps the outside of your loaf from setting before the bread rises, thereby preventing it from drying out or baking too quickly.
What if I don't own a Dutch oven?
If you don't have a Dutch oven, just use an oven-safe pot that has a tight-fitting, oven-safe lid. If you aren't sure about the lid, feel free to use a sheet pan. For best results, make sure you’re using a pot or dish that’s at least 4 inches deep in order to give the bread room to rise as it bakes. A 5 or 6 quart saucepan or stock pot will do a great job, just make sure it’s oven-safe. You can skip the pre-heating your pan step here since a steel pot will heat up much more quickly than a Dutch oven, and because it doesn’t distribute heat as evenly, it’s more likely to burn the bottom of your bread if pre-heated.
Ever since I found this recipe, every time I have a craving for some fresh homemade bread, this is what I turn to. Not only is it very easy to make, but it's also so versatile, whether you want to make a great cheese toastie, bruschetta, or sandwich. This recipe is great because you can try different variations and experiment based on what you like. For this recipe, I've used both wholemeal and all-purpose flour, but you could use all-purpose flour if that's your preference. You can also avoid the flax seeds and sunflower seeds altogether and add whatever else you want, like herbs, cheeses, or dried fruits like cranberries.
When I say it's easy, I'm not lying! The day before you want to eat the bread, mix all the ingredients in a big bowl until just combined, cover the bowl, and leave it overnight about 12-18 hours. The next day, all you need to do is shape the dough into a ball (make sure your hands and workbench are well-floured) and bake.
Before you place it in your Dutch oven, you will need to pre-heat it to prevent the bread from sticking to the bottom. While waiting for it to heat in the oven, you can knead the bread and shape it into a ball, I always place the shaped dough on a wax/baking paper to prevent from sticking. Cover it with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes till golden brown, and voila- you end up with the most gorgeous bread you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve never made bread before, this is a no-fail recipe, trust me.
Heres a short video on how to make the bread:
Sunflower Flaxseed Whole-Wheat Bread
Prep: 5 minutes, plus 12-18 hours to rest the dough
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Whole-wheat flour: 2 cups
All-purpose flour: 2 cups
Buckwheat flour: 1/4 cup (optional, I add this for extra fibre)
Salt: 2 Tsp
Active dry yeast: 1 Tsp
Sugar: 1/4 Tsp
Water: 2 1/4 cups, lukewarm
Sunflower seeds: 1/3 cup
Flax seeds: 1/3 cup
Measure out the water and add to a bowl, making sure its not too hot or cold. Add the sugar, then the yeast and wait for 5 minutes for the yeast to be activated. I always make sure the yeast is active before adding it to my dough, just to be sure.
In another big bowl, mix the flours, salt, and seeds together. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl and using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix until it's just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for 12 to 18 hours.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 230C or 450F. Place your Dutch oven in the oven with the lid on and heat it well until fully preheated. If using a steel pot or pan, skip this step.
Meanwhile, flour your work surface and hands generously. Gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball and place on wax/baking paper.
When hot, remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Take the ball of dough with the wax/baking paper and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing. Enjoy!