Genius Recipes

My New Roots' Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

By • June 11, 2014 • 85 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!

Photos by Mark Weinberg

Jump to Comments (85)

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 (85)

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2 days 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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25 days 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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about 1 month 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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about 1 month 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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2 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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2 months ago Garlic, Zest & 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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4 months 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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4 months 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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4 months ago CFrance

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

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4 months 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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4 months 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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4 months ago lalf

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

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4 months ago mainesoul

figs would be great in this!

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4 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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4 months ago Nina Lyman

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

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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 months ago CFrance

Funny!

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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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.