Poppy seed bread is both aromatic and delicious. Combined with sesame seeds, it’s even more tasty! This is a quick and simple bread recipe requiring little work.

400 gms unbleached, organic all purpose flour
1 and 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 and 1/4 dried quick raising yeast ( SAF Instant Yeast)
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 and 1/2 cups warm, filtered water.

Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly in a plastic or glass bowl.
Add in 1 cup of the water and mix up the mixture. As the water gets absorbed, slowly add in more water from the remaining 1/2 cup. You can use your hand(s) to mix the contents in the bowl into a ragged flour dough, or use a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook. I recommend using your hands to get to know the feel of the dough as it changes in nature. You will then learn to recognize when the dough is done with kneading.

After a few minutes of mixing, remove the ball of dough on to a kneading mat and knead for further 5 to 7 minutes till the dough is silky smooth, stretchy and does not stick to your hands. Form the dough into a ball, and place this back into your bowl which has been lightly oiled with olive or coconut oil. Rotate the ball of dough to coat the surface of the ball with oil. Allow the dough to proof for an hour till it doubles it’s original size.

When the dough has risen, gently knock some of the air out, and transfer the dough to the kneading mat again. Fold the dough several times to stretch the gluten. Then form into a ball, and place the dough on a floured baking sheet. Proof dough for another 40 minutes or till double the original size. Meantime, fire up your oven to 230˚C. Use a baking stone if you have one, and add a small metal tray for steaming water. At the end of 40 minutes or when the dough has doubled it’s size, lightly spray the dough surface with water and score the surface of the dough using a sharp bread knife or a lame.

Place the dough into the oven and reduce the temperature to 220˚C. Almost immediately pour 1/4 cup of boiling water on to a metal tray inside the oven to generate steam.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, till the crust is brown, and then continue baking for another 5 minutes with the oven door slightly opened with a dish-towel, about 1/2 to 1 inch at the top ( see picture, top left corner of the oven). This allows the hot humid air to escape and the crust to dry out so it will be crispy and won’t shrivel or wrinkle when the bread cools.

Remove the bread. Check for doneness by sticking a thermometer into the bread (190˚C) or by tapping the bread to hear a hollow sound. When done, place bread on a steel rack to cool before cutting.

Please note that proofing times will vary with the ambient temperature. A  general rule is for the dough to double it’s original size.

 “Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”

― Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher, The Art of Eating ―


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