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.
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.
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
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!
The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.
Photos by Mark Weinberg