Genius Recipes

My New Roots' Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

By • June 11, 2014 • 79 Comments

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: The whole-grain, gluten-free, no-knead, no-mess, life-changing loaf of bread.



You might not think you have the time or baking skills to make whole-grain, nutty, seedy bread at home -- the sort you can feel propelling you through your day, a dense, rugged loaf like you'd expect to find in a bakery somewhere in Scandinavia where everyone is beautiful.

But you do! With this loaf, there's no kneading, or proofing, or tending to a starter, and no special equipment required. You can mix it together faster than most quick breads, and it has a whole lot more substance than a muffin or scone.

More: 8 Quick Breads & Muffins to Share or Freeze

All you have to do is measure out a handful of wholesome ingredients and stir -- which you'll do directly in the loaf pan. (Why have we never tried this before?) The mixture then sits in the pan for 2 hours, give or take, and swells into a loaf-like shape, ready for baking.

No wonder this recipe was such a smash after Sarah Britton published it on her blog My New Roots under the name "The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread" -- the loaf went viral because it's healthy and gluten-free and dead easy. We love it mostly because it makes excellent toast.

How does stirring and abandoning get you something that makes such stand-up bread, without gluten? You can thank psyllium seed husks: an ingredient you probably don't know well, that's sitting near the vitamins in your local natural foods store (and if not, there's always the internet).

 

"Psyllium seed husks are one of nature’s most absorbent fibers, able to suck up over ten times their weight in water," Britton says. Mix a small amount with water, and it gets sticky enough to help loose ingredients cling without crumbling.

Gluten avoiders love psyllium seed husks because they're a friendlier, more natural alternative to baking with binders like xantham and guar gums; the rest of us like it because it does its job well and we don't notice.

Other than the husks, which you can use in powder or intact form but are otherwise non-negotiable, this bread is adaptable to your mood and your pantry. Swap in like for like (nuts for nuts, grains for grains, and so forth), and your life can change a little bit differently every time.

 

What you get is a nubbly brick, seasoned with tiny amounts of maple and salt and coconut oil, but mostly thick with the jumbled textures of nuts and seeds, softened just enough to be sliceable, and crunchy and browned at the edges (and even more so when you turn it into toast!).

Put avocado on top, or sliced tomatoes with lots of pepper, or almond butter or jam or creamed honey. Every way you serve it, the loaf will make you feel strong and smart. Try to get a muffin to do that.

My New Roots' Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

Adapted slightly from Sarah Britton of My New Roots

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup (135 grams) sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (90 grams) flax seeds
1/2 cup (65 grams) hazelnuts or almonds
1 1/2 cups (145 grams) rolled oats (if making gluten-free, make sure to get certified gluten-free oats)
2 tablepsoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks (3 tablespoons if using psyllium husk powder)
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (add 1/2 teaspoon if using coarse salt)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee
1 1/2 cups (350 milliliters) water

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Ali Slagle for this one!

Photos by Mark Weinberg

Jump to Comments (79)

Tags: genius, my new roots, sarah britton, bread, baking, gluten-free, special diets, psyllium seed husks, everyday cooking, how-to & diy, fiber, protein, health food, toast

Comments (79)

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about 1 month ago Frances Barker

It sounds good and healthy so i love the recipe and i will try it so when i do i will post a picture of it and i will definitely post a comment about it !! Thank you for sharing this healthy recipe !!

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about 1 month ago Andrea

I was hopeful and not disappointed. I'm a fan. I'll probably change some of the ingredients up a bit next time vis a vis nuts/seeds and the comments and suggestions here have been great. I especially liked the idea of mixing up a few batches of the the dry ingredients in advance and storing them in baggies.

One question, and maybe it was just because it was my first time making it, but I had a hard time easily flipping the whole thing over on to the oven rack (it came out just fine - it was the mechanics of it that were hard), and then getting the loaf out while hot. Any suggestions there?

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about 1 month ago CFrance

mainesoul, how many dates total will yoube adding next time?

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about 1 month ago mainesoul

This may sound like I am exaggerating but I am not. I love dates. When I make date nut bread, I add at least 30 percent more dates. This recipe needs a lot of dates for me. I will add 2 cups chopped dates to my next loaf. It will be fantastic.

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about 1 month ago mainesoul

I followed the recipe but added lots of chopped dates. I let is sit overnight. It is very good. I find myself looking for the dates. Next time I will double the dates so that I will be sure to have a date in each bite.

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about 1 month ago lalf

Nice idea... I think I will try a loaf with chopped figs, one of my faves in baking.

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about 1 month ago mainesoul

figs would be great in this!

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2 months ago lalf

Wow… just wow. This really is life changing, and delicious. I know I will be making this amazing loaf regularly. Beautiful rich, nutty flavor that I’m itching to pair with Montrachet and fresh snipped chives, or a good ripe brie, or my own almond butter with sliced green apple. Ooo, I can’t wait! But this first time, we sliced it 1/4 inch thick, froze half, and are having a hard time keeping our hands off the remaining half. I did make a couple of changes, only because I love variety: For the one cup of sunflower seeds, I used 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds. For the amount of hazelnuts, I used half hazelnuts and half almonds. I toasted all of the seeds and nuts (seeds separate from nuts) before baking. I used all of the gram measurements where shown. I may add a bit more salt next time. Frankly, I don’t see how this could last very long in any household, so I’m sure I’ll be making it again quite soon!

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2 months ago Nina Lyman

Why do you not tell us the info about it..calories, stuff like that?

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2 months ago Jan Mason

I toasted my soaked almonds. I made the recipe as you wrote it. It sat on the counter for 2 hours, then baked and it was GREAT. I love the flavor the coconut oil gave the loaf. It toasted beautifully for what ever toppings I have chosen to put on it. Thank you for another great recipe

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2 months ago Taunya

I just tried this recipe today, with a couple of small differences that seem to have made a big difference. It came out moist and dense and very flavorful. Notes, I did bake it on the upper middle rack so that may have helped. I also used the ground almond pulp left over from making almond milk instead of whole almonds. I also added a handful of chopped dates to soak with everything else. Fwiw it was slightly sweet and chewy and really delicious. Gonna make it this way for now because it came out so nicely. (wish I could post a photo)

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2 months ago evalunta

More door stop than bread...we tried to like it but it was just too dense and boring. Like my middle school algebra teacher but not as mean.

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2 months ago TrevorC

I respect the GF community's effort to find something good to spread peanut butter on, but this shouldn't be called "bread." Bread has a range of flavors and textures, but this falls well outside that. It's as much a bread as a tofu wiener is a "sausage." The meaning of words matter. Let's not be frivolous.

But "loaf"? By all means.

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2 months ago CFrance

You are right. This is not bread; it's a nut loaf. Bread is something you could make a sandwich out of.

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2 months ago Taunya

Actually, according to Merrium-Webster it is since oatmeal counts as a "meal" :" a usually baked and leavened food made of a mixture whose basic constituent is usually flour or meal" The leavening being psyllium in this case.

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2 months ago CFrance

I disagree with you. Lots of food items have leavening and are not called bread. Actually, Miriam Webster defines bread as food made from flour, water, salt, and something to make it rise (leavening). Psyllium is a binding agent, not a leavening.

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2 months ago Taunya

I'm going to try this, but add some chopped dates to it as well for energy. I'll let you know how it works out. :)

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2 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Is it possible for this to soak too long? I've heard that traditionally, it was allowed to sit for a few days (to really ferment, thus developing tremendous flavor). ;o)

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2 months ago mainecook61

I baked it. I tasted it. Hmmm. I tried it as toast. I tried it as toast with jam and butter. I contemplated the three-quarters of a "loaf" that was left. I stepped outside and called the hens. Cluck cluck! They loved it.

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2 months ago CFrance

Funny!

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2 months ago Kate Selner

You and me both, mainecook61. Three times, three loaves in compost and all those ingredients wasted. I was not impressed.

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2 months ago Kate Selner

I think I may be the only person who tried this bread, multiple times in fact, and never liked it. I wanted to love it, as I love all the nuts and seed used in it, but the combination never tasted quite right. I found it bland and flavorless, and when toasted, simply crumbled and fell apart. I made it exactly as the recipe states first, then tried some variations for a second and third time. Each time the majority of the loaf went in the compost bin. Not everyone found this bread to be 'life changing'.

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2 months ago Ingrid Lutzkat-Müller

Hi Kate, let me tell you what happened to me: I put the loaf in the lower rack .... and I got it crumbled! I leave it 24 hours resting... like Sarah Britton's - my new roots recipe says....but 2 hours is also OK. The last 4 loafs I used the middle rack and I got perfect breads!

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2 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Calling it "life-changing" is one way to get people's attention, or it least it was, until it caught on as a trendy new term in this great echo chamber of the food blog world, so now, you see it everywhere. It's kind of like "Genius", which has become so over-used (and incorrectly used) as to have become practically meaningless. ;o)

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2 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Ingrid, your advice is helpful. I'll keep it in mind when I make a loaf this weekend. ;o)

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2 months ago Kate Selner

Thanks for the feedback, Ingrid. I always bake in the middle of the oven, especially breads and anything that I want browned evenly. The mixture rested for more than 24 hours the first time, too. I always follow a recipe to a 'T' the first go-round, so I knew it wasn't me, nor the method. It was the flavor of it; I found it so bland and flavorless. So I tried toasting all the nuts and seeds to help enhance the flavor and it didn't help. I swapped out multiple ingredients and that didn't help create more flavor. So I gave up. Not everyone, like I said, found it to be life-changing.

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2 months ago frances85221

Last month David Lebovitz posted a similar recipe on his blog: http://www.davidlebovitz...
I noticed there's no salt in this recipe and I find he struck a perfect balance as far as sweet and salt is concerned.

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2 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

frances, thanks for your note -- this recipe actually does include 1 teaspoon of fine salt. It was listed on the actual recipe page, but went missing on this page (I just updated the article page too).

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2 months ago I_Fortuna

I think I would sprout many of these ingedients if only to lessen the phytic acid content. I also would use almond meal (flour) or coconut flour to add some lightness to the loaf. It seems too dense and chewy as it is although I am sure many people would like it. It is perfect for us diabetics, so thanks for the recipe that I just may tweak a little. : )

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2 months ago CFrance

I thought that in order to get the nutritional benefit of flax seed, it has to be ground.

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2 months ago Andreas

That's correct. Unprocessed flag will just pass through your system. I also wish people would stop associating gluten free with health. Unless you're a celiac, eating gluten free has zero health benefits.

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2 months ago CFrance

Don't blame me, I never said that!

There are many who would disagree with you, however, about the benefits of eliminating wheat from the diet, whether you're a celiac or not. Much has been written about it. Your comment seems off-the-cuff. Back it up?

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2 months ago Andreas

Sorry, I didn't mean to say that you were equating gluten free with health - I was referring to the article. I should have made that clearer, apologies.
As far as the gluten/health relationship is concerned, almost all dieticians I have spoken to who aren't trying make a living from sensationalist book sales have categorically stated that there is absolutely no connection between gluten and health.

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2 months ago I_Fortuna

Just wanted to mention that 1 in about 100 people are affected worldwide regarding gluten sensitivity or celiac autoimmune disease. About 2.5 million people in America are undiagnosed. Even the smallest amount of gluten can be dangerous and trigger an immune defense in the small intestine destroying the villi and the body's ability to absorb nutrition. Celiac disease can lead to many health problems like osteoporosis, Type 1 diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, intestinal cancers and other disease. These days doctors can screen patients to see if they have celiac disease which can surface at any time in life.
http://celiac.org/celiac...
http://www.mayoclinic.org...
http://digestive.niddk...
You may have noticed that my sources are not looking to sell books or looking for sensationalism.
I would be interested in knowing how many dieticians you spoke to and how up to date their knowledge is. How many is "all". Not even all doctors keep up with new or even established medical science.

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2 months ago Andreas

I would love to know how these numbers were collated - if 2.5 million people are undiagnosed, then where does that number come from?
But be that as it may, of course celiacs need to avoid gluten - that's nothing new. What I am questioning is the automatic assumption that gluten free products, or a gluten free diet, has automatic health benefits for people not suffering from gluten sensitivity.
An excellent research review article in the September issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tackles this topic: Gluten-Free Diet: Imprudent Dietary Advice for the General Population?

Written by Glenn Gaesser and Siddhartha Angadi, the article looks at the data and makes the following conclusions:

While a gluten-free diet is important for individuals with celiac and gluten sensitivity, there’s no evidence to support that gluten-free diets are beneficial the general population.
Some studies suggest gluten-free diets may actually make be linked to an increase in BMI
Research shows that gluten-free diets can be inadequate in essential nutrients (linked to deficiencies in B vitamins, iron and folate)
Gluten-free baked goods are often high in fat and calories

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2 months ago liz

The modified version that i just made came out great! Modification: some salt (~ ?1/4 tsp?) and 2++ TBS maple syrup- still not salty or sweet. This is European style dense bread- it holds together like a dense European seedy nut bread. Before making it, i wondered how crunch it would be- the 2+ hour pre-bake sitting means that the nuts and seeds were soft (in a good, non-mushy way).

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2 months ago Katie @ Produce On Parade

This bread is awesome!! I've made it several times and it's incredibly easy too.

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2 months ago scott

The recipe calls for whole flax seed, I guess soaking and baking makes the flaxseed crunchy, never cooked with whole flax seed before?

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2 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

The soak softens them, but they still add to the nubbly texture of the bread (which does get crunchy at the edges!).