Genius Recipes

My New Roots' Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

by • June 11, 2014 97 Comments

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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!

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

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

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Comments (97)

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2 days ago tunie

oh, ok, posted too soon - I see the interior IS the first photo, thx

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2 days ago tunie

rEally wanted to see the interior slice to get an idea of what to expect...!

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6 months ago Jules

I have made this loaf often and I find it delicious. You can also roll the mix flat on a baking sheet and make crackers rather than a loaf, flavouring it with some fresh herbs, also delicious.

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6 months ago Joyce Parkes

I was so excited to make this loaf and so disappointed.. I did all as directed and it turned out perfectly; the trouble was the taste and oiliness of the linseed (flaxseed) which I totally hated.. I do however have the happiest birds in the neighbourhood as they are getting to eat it. I will certainly be making again with a substitution and more added fruit and will update on completion..

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7 months ago PJ Puterbaugh

Delicious but a bit crumbly. Needs a bit of a binder. I'm going to mix the water with the chia and flax next time first to get them to gel. I'd rather add an egg than dates, though if I did I'd use date paste or put dates in the water, microwave to soften and then process it for more even distribution in the bread. Very interesting recipe, great toasted with honey.

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7 months ago PJ Puterbaugh

I used extra flax as I didn't have psyllium husk.

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7 months ago Cathy

Does anyone have the nutritional count for this. Carb count?

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7 months ago PJ Puterbaugh

Cathy, 10 servings, 264 cal, sodium 237mg, Carbs 19.8, Fiber 8.1, Sugars 1.7g, Protein 9.4g

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7 months ago Beehive Alchemy

Kayla, I have used quinoa flakes when I ran out of oats.... Not all quinoa, maybe 1/2 quinoa, 1/2 oats. It turned out fine. Not sure if the flavor will be the same, but if you have access to the quinoa flakes, they might work for you.

For those that had crumbling issues, I only use POWDERED psyllium husk and flax seed. I think they hydrate more fully and lend the "glue" to the mix. I would also not recommend skimping on salt and maple syrup. Use the full recipe amount.

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7 months ago Kayla Nelson

Thank you! I will check out quinoa flakes

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7 months ago Kayla Nelson

Any recommendations for a substitution for the oats? I would really love to make this!!

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7 months ago Miglė Kvietkutė

Could you recommend a substitute for psyllium seed husks (or powder)?

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9 months ago Auntie Lissa

I've made this several times and love it. This version of the recipe is easier to follow than the original. I don't like maple syrup and leave it out and is always fine. I have substituted honey with success also.

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10 months ago Elena

This bread is the best and most delicious I"ve tasted. Plus, can it get any healthier? I've been baking this bread for about a little less than a year, and I love, love, love it! I never had problems with the recipe, just follow the steps. I have it for breakfast every day. It tastes great with anything!!!

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11 months ago taxidog

I wonder if the crumbling issues could be remedied by a very brief spin in a processor for some of the chunkier ingredients. It is an expensive recipe to play around with much. I have been holding off hoping to learn a few things from the early adopters. And I have, as always. I like the almond meal idea. I am curious if it worked for Antonia.

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11 months ago Jan Mason

This recipe came together and baked perfectly, I'm not sure what could have gone so wrong for you. I love this bread so much and have recommended it to so many of my clients. Try again! It is great toasted.

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11 months ago sevey

Well, after spending probably $30.00 getting all the ingredients (expensive loaf of bread!), I am sad to say I'm so disappointed. I followed this recipe - left it sitting for 8 hours after combining the ingredients, had problems flipping it out, it wasn't in any kind of stay together shape, so I kept baking it in the pan. It never solidified into any kind of something I could slice. It's more like chunks of granola.
It needs something taste-wise - more salt or more maple syrup? - it tasted like cardboard pieces.
I clearly did something wrong - mine didn't look like the photo at all.
I wanted to love this but I don't even like it. However, since I have all these ingredients still, I guess I'll try it again except modified. Or keep eating fruit and yogurt with tons of chia/flaxseed/almond/sunflower seed/psyllium powder sprinkles....

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11 months ago Garlic, Zest and Dark Dark Chocolate

Genius indeed. I can't wait to try it! I see grab and go breakfasts for back to school.

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about 1 year 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 year 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 year ago CFrance

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

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about 1 year 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 year 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 year 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 year ago mainesoul

figs would be great in this!

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about 1 year 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!