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For no reason I can logically explain, I have been drinking plain, unsweetened kefir in the morning, topped with a few grinds of fresh nutmeg. I saw this on a menu somewhere, and because I like tangy beverages, I tried it… and I liked it. My “Greek Gods” plain kefir has 12 grams of protein per cup, is lactose free, gluten free, filled with Calcium, and has live cultures.
How virtuous I feel drinking this for breakfast.
Yet as this week rolled around, I noticed my container of kefir was going to expire before I could finish it, and so I decided to use some of my creamy kefir to make a loaf of bread. I certainly couldn’t let it go to waste!
I have used buttermilk to produce a pretty good, barely sweet bread before. And so I dug into my files, found my formula for this and went to work. Hmmm…since I was already changing things up with the substitution – I kept going. I knew that white whole wheat flour could easily be subbed for some of the white bread flour. And I had a hankering to coat the top crust of this particular loaf with a dense variety of seeds. Easy peasy.
If I’m making just one loaf of bread – I do it by hand – no processor, no mixer, just my own two hands. Kneading bread is a sure fire way for me to get rid of any angst or excess energy, and I feel like Mother Earth when I make bread without machines.
I hit the mark on this bread. And don’t you just love the name I bestowed it? If I said honey buttermilk bread, it sounds kind of “meh.” But Seed Crusted Kefir Bread? Come on, it’s a genius name (IMHO).
Try this, even if you aren’t a regular bread baker. It is easy, somewhat tangy from the kefir but slightly sweetened by the honey. Your kitchen will smell like heaven on earth. And what better vehicle for soft butter and homemade plum jam?
Seed Crusted Kefir Bread
Makes One Loaf
Ingredients (can be doubled for 2 loaves)
- 2 ½ tsp (or 1 package) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 cup plain kefir
- 2 Tbsp.peanut oil or canola oil
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 ½ tsp table salt
- 1 egg beaten, room temp (USE HALF FOR THE BREAD and save the other half to top the bread)
- 3-4 c flour total – 1 use 2 cups white bread flour and 1 cup white whole wheat, then add whatever regular bread flour I need-usually ½-¾ cup more
- ¼ cup seeds (I mixed sesame, sunflower and chia seeds)
In a small cup, add yeast to water and sugar until it proofs or foams a bit.
In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, combine kefir and butter and heat to room temperature, add oil, honey, salt, ½ egg and the proofed yeast.
Place 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of white whole wheat flour in a mixing bowl, add all the liquid and stir to combine. Keep adding bread flour one tablespoon at a time until it holds together and is able to be kneaded.
Knead for five minutes on the counter, return to a buttered bowl, cover with a dishcloth and let it rise for an hour at 85 degrees or so. Punch down the bread, let it rest five minutes and form into a loaf. Place it into a 9 x 5 well buttered bread pan or make a free form loaf on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover and let it rise for about 25 minutes, remove the cover and make three slashes on top of the dough. Let it continue rising while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees-it should rise a total of 50-60 minutes..
Once the oven has preheated and the bread is ready to bake (at least 50 minutes from when you formed the loaf) brush the top with the beaten egg/water mix, cover generously with seeds, and brush again with the egg/water mixture to keep the seeds from falling off. I usually put the pan in my sink and sprinkle the seeds from above with my hands so they are evenly distributed and the seeds aren’t all over my counter..
Bake the bread mid oven at 350 for 32 minutes. The bread will rise about 2-3 inches above the top edge of the pan. Remove the bread pan from the oven, let it sit on a cooling rack for five minutes and gently shake the pan back and forth to release the bread from the pan onto the rack.
Let it cool at least an hour before slicing. Spread with butter and/or jam, and enjoy!
PS: I am thinking next time I’ll make a round, free form loaf without a bread pan so that the entire crust and sides can be coated with seeds. A little more rustic, don’t you think?