This bread is a truly different experience due to the high content of olive oil and the large amount of seeds. The texture is not chewy, but rather soft and very moist and the whole bread is flavored by four different kinds of seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and flaxseed. The poppy seeds in particular add a fine texture and crunch that you don’t usually find in most breads. We adapted this recipe from Rose Beranbaum’s “Mantovana olive oil bread.” She made a round bread, while we chose to make a torpedo shaped loaf instead.
This bread utilizes the straight dough method, so it’s relatively quick to make. You can also skip step 4 if you’re pressed for time, since the result will still be wonderful without it. We were quite surprised by the end result of this bread – it turned out so soft and moist with good flavor with an almost delicate flavor.
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 ½ tablespoons cracked flaxseed
1 2/3 cup bread flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
¼ cup olive oil
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Toast the sesame seeds and the sunflower seeds in a 325 F degrees oven for about 7 minutes. Combine with poppy seeds and flaxseeds and let cool.
2. flour, the yeast and the seed mixture. Whisk in the salt. Slowly add the water while you stir the To mix the dough by hand, whisk together the bread flour (reserve ¼ cup), the whole wheat dough with a wooden spoon, then add the olive oil. Knead the dough together in the bowl until it comes together, then knead it on a floured surface for 5 minutes to develop the gluten structure. Cover it with an inverted bowl and let rest for 20 minutes. Knead the dough for another 5 minutes until it’s very smooth. Add some additional flour if the dough is sticky.
You can also do this step using a machine. Then, using a dough hook, whisk together the bread flour whole wheat flour, yeast and seed mixture on low. Gradually add the water and the olive oil. Mix for about a minute, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 20 minutes. Add the salt and knead the dough on medium for about 10 minutes.
3. Now, place the dough in a lightly greased 4-quart bowl (or dough rising container). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 ½ to 2 hours, ideally in 75 – 80 degrees. (If your kitchen is colder than that, you can put your oven on warm for a minute, then shut it off and leave the dough inside the oven for the rising period).
4. Once it’s doubled, scrape it out on a floured surface, give it a business letter turn (stretch the dough out and fold it on top of it a couple of times). Place it in the oiled bowl again, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest a second time until it’s doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Now, turn the dough on a lightly floured surface, press it down to flatten it slightly. Roll the dough into a rectangle, then shape it into a torpedo shaped loaf. Set it on a lined baking sheet, cover it with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 1 hour
6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (it is recommended that you pre-heat the oven an hour before baking). On the lowest shelf in the oven, place a cast-iron pan or a sheet pan. Above, place a baking stone or a sheet pan..
7. Slash the bread a couple of times then set the sheet onto the hot baking stone. Toss ½ cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and shut the door immediately. Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 200 degrees. Halfway through baking, turn it around for even baking and set the bread directly on the stone. Let cool on a wire rack.