Healthy Seed Bread


12 Jan Healthy Seed Bread

Hearty Seed Bread - The Messy Baker

One of the items on my culinary bucket list was granary bread. I wanted to create my own version of a seed-loaded hearth bread I used to get from a local bakery. Their bread was dense without being heavy — something you could sink your molars into and chew with satisfaction. The seeds crunched while the crumb yielded. It’s was a stand alone snack or the perfect outer limit for a hearty sandwich. You could toast it up or devour it at room temperature. (Confession: I often ate a fresh slice while another slice toasted.) It delivered sweet honey and savoury cheese with equal ease. Able to perform its duties at both extremes, it was the perfect bread for a Gemini like me.

And then they changed the recipe.

Finding a homemade replacement proved challenging. I fiddled with no-knead versions, adding seeds and whole wheat flour. While the results looked right, something was off. My sister gnawed on a slice and kindly informed me it “tasted healthy.”

I was aiming for delicious. Or addictive. Or amazing. I’d have settled for yummy, or even not bad. But healthy? In my family that’s code for sawdust.

After scouring the web and local library, I found only one recipe with a similar ingredient list to the bakery’s. It wasn’t called granary or hearth bread, as I’d imagined. Instead it was descriptively dubbed Many-Seed Bread.

I’ve made three loaves. There’s half a loaf left.

This isn’t a quick-make bread, but it isn’t a labour of love either. In the Gemini tradition, it’s a balance. While it requires a bit of planning, you can refrigerate the dough for up to four days — so you are never more than a few, non-active hours away from a fresh loaf of healthy bread. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Hearty Seed Bread
Recipe type: Baked Goods
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 loaves
This hearty bread is full of seeds and is perfect for toasting or enjoying with a bowl of soup.
  • ⅓ cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1½ cup lukewarm water (95°F or 35°C)
  • ¾ cups lukewarm buttermilk (95°F or 35°C)
  • 5 cups unbleached bread flour
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup whole rye flour (or same amount of whole wheat flour)
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 (8-gram) packets instant yeast (4½ teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • sesame or poppy seeds for garnish
The Day Ahead
  1. Lightly toast the sunflower and sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Set the seeds aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the water and buttermilk. Heat the liquid gently in a pot on the stove, or in the microwave on medium setting. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer (you are aiming for about 95°F or 35°C) to ensure you don’t kill the yeast with liquid that is too hot.
  3. Combine flours, seeds, salt, yeast, honey, water / buttermilk mixture in a large bowl. Mix by hand or using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough should be sticky. Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Change the paddle to a dough hook and mix on medium-low for 3 to 4 minutes. You can also continue to mix by hand, but I find this too hard on my wrists. You want the dough ball to hold together, but be soft, tacky and slightly sticky. You may need to add a bit more flour or water to get this consistency.
  5. Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface for 3 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough should be slightly sticky but still form a ball.
  6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The dough can be kept for up to 4 days and baked in batches.
Baking Day
  1. About 2 hours before you plan to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape into loaves. I made 3 free-form loaves over 2 days, proofing and baking them on a baking sheet fitted with a silicon mat.
  2. Once the loaf is shaped, brush the top with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Mist with spray oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 90 minutes to 2 hours, or until the loaves are about 1½ times their original size.
  3. Half an hour before the loaves are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Bake the bread for 20 minutes, rotate the pan and continue to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. The bread is ready when it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom. The first few times you make this, you might want to double check doneness with an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature of the loaf should be 185°F (85°C). After a few tries, the colour and knock will be enough for you.
  5. Let the bread cool for about an hour before slicing — if you can wait that long.
Adapted from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart. Published by Ten Speed Press © 2009.


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  • cyril Pillay
    Posted at 15:02h, 01 December Reply

    Health Bread baked at home Recipe

  • Cori
    Posted at 18:23h, 13 January Reply

    How long does it need to refrigerate it if you want to bake the same day?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 23:10h, 13 January Reply

      This recipe is designed for the bread to have a slow rise overnight. This slow rise helps develop flavours and texture. I have never baked it the day I made the dough, but if you wanted to give it a try, my guess is to skip the refrigeration. I’d let the dough rise to double, then knead and shape the dough as if you’d just removed it from the refrigerator. Skipping the low rise will alter the taste and texture, but it should produce a decent loaf of homemade bread.

      If you do skip the overnight refrigeration, I’d be curious to know how it turns out.

      • J Everglade
        Posted at 20:48h, 18 August Reply

        i let it rise for an hour then kneaded in the seeds then let it rise 30 min. I added untoasted flax, poppy, sesame and crushed pecan and used honey and that mix to cover a stripe down the loaf. I didnt try refrigeration but it was 85 degrees and the dough was dictating its own readiness. I baked it for a half an hour at 375 let it cool and sliced it. Artesianal rustic and definitely hearty. I tried to post a pic

    • Briel
      Posted at 19:23h, 12 March Reply

      I would put the dough in the fridge after kneading it for 2 hours, then let it come back to room temperature before shaping and baking, probably 1 1/2 hours on the counter.

      • Charmian Christie
        Posted at 17:10h, 13 March Reply

        Thanks for your suggestion. I should try a loaf this way and compare it to the overnight version.

  • Janice
    Posted at 17:52h, 19 January Reply

    I really like Peter Reinhart’s bread making methods. His bread called Struan sounds odd but makes the best toasted sandwiches imaginable.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:38h, 21 January Reply

      Ooooh. Sounds great. With the weather turning cold again, I think a soup with a toasted sandwich sounds perfect. I also love the smell of baking bread.

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll look that one up!

  • Leo
    Posted at 19:42h, 05 October Reply

    I have a loaf proofing now. I was looking for a recipe similar to Dave’s incredible bread. This is looking great. I think I’m going to try molasses in place of honey on the next run. I’m also doing to no refrigerate approach on one loaf. Though I missed the need for an extra need in your comments here. I’ll learn. But I basically made the loaf as prescribed in your recipe except I did not refrigerate. Tomorrow’s loaves will be on point I suspect. Also used central milling 00 flour and organic sine ground whole wheat with community grains rye. Totally stoked to see how this comes out.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:44h, 06 October Reply

      My mom used to make a rye bread with molasses and it was amazing. The no refrigerator approach will produce a nice flavour, too. Please let me know how the loaves turn out. Bread has seemingly endless possibilities and there simply isn’t enough time to try all the variations. I’m hoping to do some granery sour dough. Once I make the starter…

      Can’t wait to hear how your bread turns out! Happy baking!

  • Jase
    Posted at 12:03h, 11 February Reply

    Thank you! This bread is amazing! I haven’t refrigerated the dough and have made two batches of 3 round buns…the honey is crucial to tie in the sesame seeds. The first batch was done as per the recipe, but in the second I upped the buttermilk and downed the water by .25 cup, and added 80g of chopped dried cherries…unbelievable! The subtle fruit addition compliments well. Recommendations include: adding a further .25 cup water, and replacing cherries with raisins (soaked), currants, apricots, prunes, or dates. Certainly at ~ 1400 calories/loaf, I will have to do much more exercise:) I figure 2hours of cross country skiing will entitle me to an entire loaf with spreads…more like this!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:30h, 11 February Reply

      Oh, the dried cherries sound wonderful. Wish I’d thought of that!! I love your ideas of adding apricots, too. If you cross country ski for 2 hours you deserve a whole loaf to yourself. Thanks so much for sharing your variations.

  • Colin Sills
    Posted at 22:24h, 13 May Reply

    I halved the recip and made it be loaf. Worked great! Also, in my halved recipe, I used 2 cups wholewheat flour and 3/4 bread flour. With this reduction in gluten from the wholewheat flour, I added extra yeast and honey. Perfect loaf. No complaints. Thanks for sharing!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:23h, 14 May Reply

      I love this idea! I haven’t tried upping the whole wheat flour myself, but I really like a full grain bread and this sounds like a wonderful option. Thanks so much for sharing your variation.

  • JG
    Posted at 13:46h, 16 September Reply

    I’d love to make this recipe without the buttermilk. Can you suggest how the recipe could be modified? Thanks!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:05h, 16 September Reply

      Without understanding why you want to make the substitution, it’s hard to make a solid recommendation. If you simply can’t find buttermilk, you can make a fabulous substitute by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring cup and filling with milk to the 1 cup line. Stir and let sit 10 minutes. Other substitutions using items on hand include using equal parts plain yogurt and milk.

      If you’re looking for dairy-free options, Joy the Baker recommends almond or soy milk, mixed with almond or soy yogurt and a splash of vinegar. I’ve never tried this, but here is a link to her formula. Hope this helps.

  • Joni
    Posted at 19:30h, 02 October Reply

    I consider myself a pretty good baker, but even I couldn’t believe I baked bread that tasted this good! I had an inkling that it would be good by how it smelled while it was in the oven. It was pure torture waiting for it to come out!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:50h, 04 October Reply

      I’m so glad you like the results of this bread. Nothing beats homemade. Thanks for taking the time to let me know how it turned out.

      • Joni
        Posted at 13:06h, 04 October Reply

        Not only did I think it was good, but my husband ate an entire loaf by himself in one day!

  • Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm
    Posted at 12:20h, 12 March Reply

    Hi Charmian, I just wanted to let you know that I used this recipe to make dinner rolls for my #BreadBakers group. They turned out lovely. You can see my post about them at
    Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:23h, 12 March Reply

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you used the recipe. Dinner rolls? That’s a great idea. I wish I’d thought of that. I popped by your blog and they look perfect! I’m now hungry for a hot roll with fresh butter.

  • Alison
    Posted at 17:26h, 27 April Reply

    Omg I just thought I would smell the dough rising in the fridge as it looked so yummy…. nearly blew my head off with yeast smeĺl up my nose lol. This stuff is pungent can’t wait to bake it tomorrow

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:43h, 22 September Reply

      Hope your bread turned out well! So glad you’re giving it a try.

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