A few weeks ago I received an email from a reader (!!!) wanting to know if I had a recipe for seedy salt bread. Originally made by Kismet Farm Bakery in Fennville, Michigan, seedy salt bread is a sourdough loaf with a salty crust and a wonderful mix of aromatic seeds. The bread has since been adopted by others in the area, including the Salt of the Earth restaurant.
While I didn’t have a recipe on hand, I have tried variations of this bread before and was intent on establishing a recipe I could use for the future. To the dough you add a combination of fennel, sesame, poppy, and flax seeds and dried onion flakes. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I’ve done most of the troubleshooting already and have arrived at what I think is a reliable seedy salt recipe.
I adapted the recipe for the Tartine basic country loaf, which is on its own a fantastic sourdough but also very receptive to additions. Due to the promoted saltiness of the bread, I thought it necessary to add a bit more salt to the dough itself (I added 12.5 grams/loaf instead of 10). This was definitely not needed. Coating the crust in sea salt before proofing gives the crust a great salty flavor, but it isn’t overpowering. Adding extra salt to the dough gave it too strong a salty flavor, and detracted from everything else in the bread. Reminds me of the end of Office Space when Milton complains about the ‘great big grains of salt’ on his margarita.
The top of each loaf was rolled in sea salt before proofing, but one was also rolled in a mixture of the seeds added to the bread. The onion flakes burned a bit with the oven so hot, and the flavor of the seeds overpowered the saltiness of the crust. Considering one of the hallmarks of the bread is the salty crust, I’d suggest laying off adding the seed mixture to the top.
Lastly, I would suggest toasting and grinding the fennel seeds (not into powder, but just breaking them up a bit), of which I only did the latter (I did toast the sesame seeds). Toasting the seeds does a good job of enhancing the flavor in addition to making it easier to grind.
The smells that fill the kitchen when you take this bread out of the oven are incredible. In the past I have been very good about letting bread cool before slicing into it, but this was tempting me to the point that I left the apartment! Enjoy, and be sure to let me know if you have suggestions for this recipe or ideas for any others!
Seedy Salt Bread (Makes 2 loaves)
- 200 g sourdough starter, fed
- 750 g warm water
- 900 g bread flour
- 100 g whole wheat flour
- 20 g salt
- 15 g fennel seeds, toasted and ground
- 20 g sesame seeds, toasted and ground
- 20 g flax seeds
- 20 g dried onion flakes
- 20 g poppy seeds
- Sea salt for coating loaf
The night before you plan to make the dough, refresh your sourdough starter. Discard all but a few tablespoons, and add in 200 grams water, 100 grams AP flour, and 100 grams whole wheat flour. Cover loosely and let sit overnight. The next morning, you know the starter is ready when it floats in water.
Disperse the starter in 700 grams of water. Add all the flour and mix by hand until you do not see any dry bits of flour. Cover the dough and let rest for 30 minutes.
After the rest period, add the salt and remaining 50 grams of water. Once everything is incorporated, cover the dough again. For the next 2 hours, ‘turn’ the dough every 30 minutes by grabbing the underside of the dough and stretching it over the rest of the dough. After the first turn add in the onion flakes and fennel, sesame, flax, and poppy seeds. After 2 hours total, turn the dough just once every hour (It will need to proof for about 3.5-4 hours total)
Once the first rise is complete, turn the dough out onto an unfloured surface. Cut into two pieces and flour the top of the dough, then flip it over so that the floured side is down. Work each piece into a round shape, and let rest of the counter for 30 minutes.
After the rest once again flour the top of the dough and flip it over. Fold the third of the dough closest to you inward, and then stretch the dough out to the sides. Fold the right, and then left, sides in toward the center. Fold the top of the dough inward, and then wrap the bottom part of the dough over it all. Work this into a round shape, and roll the top (seam will be facing you) in sea salt. Place seam side up (salt facing down) in a proofing basket.
Let rise for 3-4 hours (or overnight for 10-12 hours in the refrigerator). Before baking place a dutch oven, with the lid on, in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Once hot, drop the dough into the pan and score the loaves. Immediately place the top back on and return to the oven. Turn the heat down to 450 degrees and cook for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the top of the dutch oven and rotate the pan. Continue to bake the bread for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is deeply caramelized. Let cool 2 hours before slicing.