This truly is a life-changing loaf of bread - absolutely delicious, nutty, and satisfying. It's so easy to make. No kneading, no rising, no punching down, no fiddling - just stir together a few healthy ingredients, wait, and bake.
When I first stumbled across the recipe for this bread, I just had to try it - it sounded almost too simple. You just stir together some oats, seeds, and nuts? You add some water and a touch of oil and sweetener? That's it? And it sticks together? Slices easily?
You bet it does. It is the tastiest, nuttiest, most satisfying loaf of bread I've ever munched on. Sarah Britton writes the lovely blog My New Roots, a cornucopia of healthy foods as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. I am so thankful she's shared this amazing recipe with us.
Anyone dealing with food allergies knows that bread is one of the foods most missed and the baked item most difficult to get right with alternative ingredients. This bread really has changed our life - our food life, that is.
I've served it for special lunches with 'regular people' (non-allergy-sufferers) and they've raved about its fantastic taste. I've made and sliced several loaves, packing them along for trips, and they've been a life saver. I've always got a loaf or two in the freezer, some cut up ahead, so we can grab a slice for toast anytime. The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread tastes as delicious with savoury toppings as it is with a smear of nut butter and jam. But it shines at its fantastic best when toasted - the crispy brown caramelization enhances its nuttiness and brings a depth of flavour that makes it hard to stop at just one slice.
What makes this bread stay together is the sticky power of psyllium husks. These featherweight little husks from the seeds of the plantago ovata plant are super high in fiber. When mixed with water they form a flavourless gel that is not only highly beneficial for the colon and elimination system (yes, they help move stuff along), but also for the heart and pancreas (soluble fiber helps lower blood sugar levels). However, it's the sticky properties of psyllium husks that make them the star ingredient in this bread.
Yay for psyllium! It binds together healthy oats, seeds, and nuts. All you do is add the liquid ingredients, stir, pack it into a loaf pan, let the bread sit for at least 2 hours (up to overnight) so everything can get thoroughly moistened and the psyllium husks can do their job of sticking everything together, then bake. The baking technique is also a little different. The loaf is placed onto a rack halfway through baking, so the outside can get nice and crisp. Brilliant.
I've modified the original recipe only slightly, changing out the flax seeds for super healthy little hemp seeds. Even though flax seeds are wonderfully healthy, too, their nutrition is of little value unless they are ground, since the whole seeds pass through our system undigested. I've also changed the nuts to pecans or walnuts, since those are softer nuts and slice more easily in the baked loaf, but any nuts would be fine, really. In addition, I use warm water, since it absorbs more quickly and allows the coconut oil to stay liquid while mixing.
The one other modification I made to the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread recipe is to invert the loaf onto a cake cooling rack for the last half of its baking, rather than directly onto the oven rack. My oven rack bars are too far apart, and I had one loaf tragically fall apart, and several other loaves slump between the bars to make deep ridges on the bottom, before I thought to use a cooling rack which has the bars spaced much more closely than my oven shelves.
And on top of it all, it's gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and can be made nut-free, too.
So go ahead - become a bread baker - change your life!
* * * * *
slightly adapted from My New Roots blog by Sarah Britton
The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread
- 1½ cups (150gms) rolled oats (large-flake, old-fashioned kind), gluten-free if necessary
- 1 cup (145gms) sunflower seeds
- ½ cup (75gms) hemp hearts (or flax seeds, roughly ground or cracked)
- ½ cup (65gms) pecans or walnuts, large halves broken into pieces*
- 4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks or 3 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1½ cups (360ml) warm water
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, but it won't be vegan
- In a medium bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.
- In another bowl or a large measuring cup, stir together the warm water, coconut oil, and honey. Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moistened. Let sit for a minute or two until all the water is absorbed.
- Spray a non-stick medium-sized loaf pan (4½ x 8½ inches/11 x 21 cm measured at the top of the pan) with cooking oil spray or wipe it with coconut oil or ghee. Stir the bread mixture again and dump it into the loaf pan. Pat it down with a spatula and smooth the top so it is completely flat (this will become the bottom later).
- Leave the bread to sit on the counter at room temperature for a minimum of two hours, up to twenty-four hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
- Then remove the pan from the oven, and place a cake cooling rack on top of the pan. Use pot holders or oven mitts to invert the pan, tipping the loaf of bread upside-down onto the cooling rack. Remove the pan, and place the rack with the loaf on it back into the oven. Continue baking the bread for another 30 to 35 minutes, until it starts browning at the edges and is slightly puffed up in the middle.
- Using oven mitts or pot holders, carefully lift the cooling rack with the loaf on it, out of the oven. Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing (very important).
- Store bread in a sealed container or heavy duty plastic bag in the refrigerator. This bread freezes well. Simply slice it before freezing, for easy removal of individual slices for toasting or serving.
- Makes one loaf.
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