I have been baking a mixed all purpose/whole wheat flour bread for some time now, adding all kinds of seeds to it, and sunflower is my current favourite. However, my whole wheat loafs had a tendency not to stay soft for long. So here I tried a new approach, which borrows from the Asian baking tradition (you may have also read about it here: https://food52.com/recipes..., of Food52). The idea is to add a "tangzhong" to the yeasted bread: it is essentially a gelatinous mix of flour and liquid, which traps moist during the oven rise and helps keep the bread softer for a longer period of time. While I had used it innumerable times to bake milk bread, I had never tried incorporating it into a mixed flour bread, but it actually worked out pretty well in softening the loaf and keeping it moister for long. —Silvia Merler
Make the tangzhong: take 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour and mix them with 3 tablespoons water and 3 tablespoons of milk, in a small saucepan. Whisk well until no lumps remain. Cook the mixture over low heat, whisking constantly until it thickens. You should see that the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan (it will take about 3 to 5 minutes). Let it cool to room temperature.
Sprinkle the yeast over 1 cup lukewarm water and set it aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate (the yeast should start bubbling).
Meanwhile, prepare the dry ingredients. In a bowl, sift together the flours, sunflower seeds, salt and sugar. In a smaller bowl whisk together the tangzhong and the oil.
When it’s ready, add the yeast mixture to the wet ingredients, make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Stir until incorporated, then knead until you get a smooth, elastic dough.
Form a ball with the dough and place it in a large bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise for 1-1.5 hour.
Once this time has passed, punch down the dough and shape the loaf (I did a braided shape here, but a simple log would work just as well). Cover with a towel and let rise for another 45-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with an oven pan or rimmed backing sheet in the lowest rack. Brush the loaf with milk and put it in the oven, pouring 1 cup of ice cubes in the pre-heated pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.