Seeds Add Elegance & Taste to Breads

Combined with the depth of sourdough, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, herbs – they can all transform a basic loaf into something undeniably delicious.”

– Amanda from Heartbeet Kitchen

Today as the sun is melting the snow off our roof, it is hard to believe that last week we had a nor’easter that dumped snow all over northern Vermont. My son, Dylan, took the Megabus from Boston the day before the storm. He wanted to spend some time with us before traveling to Indonesia to begin a year of Ph.D. research. While the snow piled outside, my husband and I spent time inside with him chatting, playing Rummy, and sharing meals. We were grateful to learn that he brought his snow boots so we could walk in the crunchy snow and that he was prepared to help us shovel the driveway.

After spending time in the snowy outdoors, it’s always great to come in for warm soup with homemade bread. My husband, son, and I enjoyed such a meal after being outside. I took several slices of my recently made sourdough bread from the freezer and toasted them slightly. This bread was topped with a generous layer of sesame and crushed anise seed. It tapped my baker’s curiosity to hear Dylan say, “Wow, mom, this bread is great! The seeds add so much flavor.”

This affirmation that topping the bread with seeds makes a difference in taste was interesting. I had begun experimenting more with flavorful spicy seeds in my bread baking. This addition seemed to make already delicious artisan bread truly special. Dylan’s compliment confirmed my thinking.

An assortment of seed toppings can add nutrition, crunch, and pizzazz to homemade bread. These include black and white sesame, fennel, flaxseed, sunflower, pepitas, anise (my favorite), poppy, and caraway. Topping bread with seeds is very easy. I read that to make them stick to the dough, you need to add egg wash beforehand, but I have not found this necessary. Spraying or brushing water on the dough, then adding the seeds before the bread rises works well.* There is no need to pre-toast seeds either because they heat from the oven will toast them perfectly.

It’s been fun to discover that blending the seeds into the dough makes terrific bread too. Amanda Paa @heartbeetkitchen has an Easy Seeded Sourdough recipe with sesame and pumpkin seeds. It has a crusty exterior with a flavorful nutty interior. My husband and I enjoy it toasted for breakfast with jelly!

Check out the links below that reference ideas in this post. Listed are some great sourdough recipes for using seed toppings.

Wishing you happy spring bread baking! — Carole

*Five ways to stick seeds to your bread dough so they don’t fall off – Bake with Jack

Topping Bread Dough — King Arthur Flour

Tested Sourdough Recipes for adding seeds)

Easy Seeded Sourdough Bread — Amanda Paa Heartbeet Kitchen

Sourdough Baguette (add your own seed choices) — @vindiskitchen Vindi

Sesame Sourdough Bread @everything.sourdough on Instagram – Deb

Healthy Sourdough Chocolate Muffins

More and more research shows that chocolate is good for you. It’s a mood elevator. It contains a lot of antioxidants and will keep us younger. It’s good for your heart and acts like aspirin. It keeps your cholesterol low.

— Pastry Chef and Chocolatier, Jacques Torres

Recently, I discovered a sourdough double chocolate muffin recipe from the website, Little Spoon Farm. The first time I made them, I was thrilled by how rich and chocolatey they were! They were butter-free (using oil instead) and also contained “discard” sourdough (that I can never discard).

These delicious muffins appeal to my chocolate cravings and may even be beneficial to my health. I would like to believe Jacques Torres is correct when he shares that chocolate is “good for your heart”. As a home baker with moderate LDL cholesterol, I want to continue baking and enjoying assortments of treats, pastries, and bread. This desire encouraged me to experiment with reducing the saturated fat in Little Spoon Farm’s muffin recipe. Would it taste just as delicious as the original version?

Instead of sour cream, I exchanged it with the same portion of low-fat yogurt and replaced cow milk with oat milk. Finally, I replaced 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of walnuts (healthy fat). Such simple changes were easy to do. These changes seemed to modify the taste only slightly with excellent results.

Whether or not you modify this recipe, these double chocolate muffins are amazing. I want to ensure that this recipe is a keeper in my collection.

Check out the recipe link below and learn about the world-famous Jacques Torres! — Carole

Lady Earl Grey, Crumpets & Prince Harry’s Spare

Tea and crumpets while reading Spare is a great way to enjoy one of the world’s top-selling memoirs.   A review of Prince Harry’s Spare

If you decide to read Prince Harry’s book, Spare, why not set the mood and “fancy a cuppa” with my favorite Lady Earl Grey and some Marimite* crumpets?  I made some crumpets recently, and they are good tasting. A bit crispy when toasted and, with a tad of butter, they are the perfect addition to some English tea. You might even try making tea with homemade crumpets while reading my review of the book.

To begin with, Prince Harry’s Spare was actually written by a ghostwriter named John Joseph Moehringer, a Pulitzer-winning journalist. While reading this memoir, you understand that Prince Harry is probably not interested in sitting long enough to read or write a book. He’s too busy constantly trying to escape his life as a member of the Royal Family. Since he has the means to do so, Harry escapes often. He’s flown Apache helicopters in the British Army, visited orphanages for children with Aids, volunteered in Australia as a jackaroo, hiked the North and South Poles with disabled veterans to bring awareness to their cause, and has traveled often to his beloved Botswana to relax.

Yet, despite Harry’s incredibly privileged life, he struggles with emotional health issues and has dealt with his depression through excessive drug abuse.  The most salient message that I gained from reading Spare is the reminder that no matter how wealthy people are or how much economic and political power they have acquired, their challenges are the same ones many of us face — sibling rivalry, strained parental relationships, coping with grief, and the desire to find true love.

Of course, Harry’s life is uniquely complicated because he is a Prince and is subjected to lifelong exposure to the British media frenzy and exploitation.  The media’s strategically planted stories about Harry (and now Meghan) and the Royal message, “never complain, never explain,” contribute to Prince Harry’s anger, frustration, and ultimate disillusionment.  Even more striking is his family’s lack of loyalty and support.  The memoir reveals that, in England, the status of the British monarchy is paramount. It means that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are best kept quiet and out of the limelight. For Harry, the inability to defend himself and his wife against relentless accusations coupled with his lack of autonomy is suffocating. He refuses to acquiesce.

Overall, Moehringer’s writing provides us with a compelling lens from Harry’s perspective. It allows Harry a voice that has long been suppressed. The chapters are short, and the stories of Harry’s adventures are often humorous.  The Los Angeles Times printed an entertaining article titled “Todger, Tiggy, Biro, and Spike: A glossary of Harry’s Britishisms for “Spare” readers. It explains colloquialisms for American readers who may be unfamiliar with many amusing Britishisms.

By the end of the book, the reader can not help but like Prince Harry and sympathize with him. He is adventurous and bold. He is a person who is trying to deal with his circumstances, maintain his health, and be a good husband and father.Β  Despite all this, I remind myself that Prince Harry is privileged and connected beyond my imagination. He’s wealthy and intelligent enough to pursue a lifestyle to which he has been long accustomed. It is rumored that Penguin Random House paid him $20 million in advance just to put his memories in print – a true princely sum.

— Check out the links below! Carole

Warburtons Crumpet Recipe — by recipetineats

How to eat: crumpets  — The Guardian

*What is Marmite? – Food Network

Todger, Tiggy, Brio and Spike: A glossary of Harry’s Britishisms for Spare Readers – Los Angeles Times