This nut and seed bread is quite unique in that it’s not light, fluffy, and airy like your typical flour-based bread. Quite the opposite – it’s chewy, nutty, hearty, filling, moist, and very satisfying. It’s also free of any preservatives and chemicals, so it will start to harden and mold after about a week. That’s exactly what real bread should do. So when I know that I won’t be able to eat the entire loaf in a few days, I slice it and put it in the freezer. This allows me to pull out just what I need.
Growing up in Europe, bread was something that accompanied almost every meal of the day. Not just in the Czech Republic where I was born, but in every European country I got to visit. Soft and warm baguettes in France, nutritional dark and hearty rugbrød in Denmark, fluffy and chewy tijgerbrood in Netherlands, thin and salty pretzels in Germany, crusty round kaiser buns in Austria, herbaceous flat focaccia in Italy, or pita-like lepinja in Croatia.
While every bread is special in its own way, one of the European breads always stood out to me – the Norwegian fjellbrød. If you’re all about a dense and hearty loaf of bread, the fjellbrød is all you need. It’s free of sugar, free of white flour, and loaded with whole grains and seeds. It’s also incredibly easy to make – since it’s a no-knead bread, there’s no rising or final proofing.
Admittedly, bread has always been a big deal in my family. This is mostly because my mom and dad love bread. Whether we were at home or on holidays, my dad would get up early in the morning to buy the freshest local bread possible. I would often join him just to smell the aroma of freshly baked bread on the streets, wafting tantalizingly from the bakeries. As I stepped into one of the bakeries my dad chose, I experienced a magical whirlwind of nutty breads, buttery croissants, and delicate puff pastries.
I loved watching the bakers at work as they filled the shelves of the bakery with breads. I listened to the crackling of the crust as the loaves of bread were cooling down and couldn’t get enough of the aromas lingering in the air. This whole experience helped me appreciate bread-making in a new light.
So today I’m sharing with you a recipe for dark and dense nut and seed bread that I make on a regular basis. I got inspired to make this bread from a few different sources. First, Sarah Britton’s beautiful loaf of bread packed with nuts and seeds. Second, Chris Morocco’s gluten-free bread with steel-cut oats. I decided to combine the two, keeping the bread high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Tips for Making Nut and Seed Bread
Credit: the nut & seed bread recipe has been inspired by Super-Seedy Bread from Bon Appetit.
While the recipe for the nut and seed bread is very flexible, there are a few ingredients that are essential. If you don’t like almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds, you can swap them for any other type of nuts or seeds. However, I wouldn’t recommend substituting the flax seeds or the chia seeds because they have special binding properties, helping the bread hold together.
Another such binding ingredient is psyllium. Psyllium is a form of fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata, an herb mainly grown in India. It comes in two forms – the raw husks themselves and powdered. I like to use the powdered form because it dissolves easier in water, but either works for this recipe.
While you can make this bread with rolled oats, I prefer steel-cut oats because of their chewy texture. I always soak the steel-cut oats in buttermilk to make them more digestible. By soaking grains in acidic medium, the anti-nutrients in the oats break down and the minerals are released.
For this recipe, I alternate between using yeast and leaving it out. The advantage of using yeast is that it makes the dough rise, creating a less dense bread. The disadvantage, of course, is the time it takes for the bread to rise. It’s up to you if you use it or not.
* Update: some people have reported having success with using baking soda instead of yeast. So if you’re impatient (or simply aren’t a fan of yeast), baking soda might be the way to go.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Loaf Pan (Lodge, Cast Iron) | 2. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 3. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 4. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 5. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) | 6. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Glass) | 7. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel)
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- 3/4 cup steel-cut oats
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup teff flour
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup golden flax seeds
- 1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal
- 1/4 cup psyllium husks (not psyllium powder)
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup warm water (ideally about 100°F/38°C)
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. active yeast, optional
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Mix almond milk with lemon juice and let it stand for about 5 minutes. The almond milk should thicken and curdle, mimicking buttermilk.
In a medium-size bowl, mix steel cut oats with buttermilk. Place the bowl in the fridge overnight to rehydrate oats.
When you're ready to make the bread, combine maple syrup and warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over and let stand until yeast is beginning to foam.
In the meantime, combine teff flour, chopped nuts, seeds, psyllium, and salt in a large bowl. Add rehydrated oats, yeast mixture, olive oil, and whisk until all ingredients are well combined.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until dough has puffed slightly, about an hour. The dough won’t rise like non-gluten-free dough, but if you touch it, it should feel less dense than before.
Stir dough gently to deflate, then transfer to a parchment paper-lined 8 x 5" loaf pan (dough should reach to about the top of pan and this is fine). Brush the top of dough with olive oil and let dough rise again until domed slightly, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake bread until top is dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped, about 75 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let it cool slightly before slicing.
Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days. For longer term storage, slice the bread and store it in an airtight container for up to 6 months.