Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours
Total: 3 hours 10 minutes
Adapted from Williams Sonoma's Essentials of Baking
This bread takes about 5 hours to make, from start to finish, but most of the time is inactive, i.e., waiting patiently for the yeast to do its thing.
I highly recommend using white and whole wheat bread flours here (as opposed to all-purpose) as the abundance of whole grains and seeds makes for a slightly crumbly loaf, the texture of which is aided by the extra gluten in the bread flour.
For a sturdier, springier bread, reduce the amount of whole wheat flour and use more white flour in its place. You can also omit the sunflower seeds for a more traditional oatmeal molasses bread. If I wished to make this bread vegan, I would use sunflower oil in place of the butter.
Since this bread contains sweetener and plenty of whole grains, it can easily be overproofed if left to ferment too long. Overproofing happens when the dough ferments so much that the little balloons of gluten fill up with too much air and pop. If your dough has risen and then begins to deflate, it has probably been overproofed. To prevent this, mark your bowl with a piece of tape where the dough will be when it doubles in size. You can always retard your dough by placing it in the fridge if you don't want to bake it right away; let it come back to room temperature before working with it. If you do overproof your dough, it is best to press it down and let it rise again in order to re-form the glutens.
To toast the sunflower seeds, spread them on a small baking sheet and place in a 300º oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Cool completely before incorporating into the dough.
Nutritional values are based on one of eight servings.