For once, spring has sprung up a bit early, and the long, sunny days are simply glorious. Mid-60’s, clear skies, little humidity; If only the weather could stay this perfect all year round! The bright sunshine illuminates all corners of the house, lifts the darkest of moods, and is so pervasive, it’s even made its way into my baking. Though the loaf stops short of being cooked via solar power, it tastes for all the world like a little bit of sunshine baked right into the bread.
A soft, golden yellow crumb clings to scores of crunchy sunflower seeds, periodically interrupted by the savory taste of sun-dried tomatoes. It would be hard to not feel just a little bit happier after toasting a slice for breakfast, or sandwiching two pieces with cucumbers and vegan cream cheese, or perhaps your favorite “BLT” fixings.
3 – 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/4-Ounce Package Active Dry Yeast
1 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons Light Agave Nectar
1 Cup Carrot Juice
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine or Coconut Oil, Melted
1 Cup Roasted and Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Sun-dried Tomatoes (Dry; Not Packed in Oil)
This dough is meant to sit and rise overnight (at least 8 hours) so that it can be baked in the morning. Plan your timing accordingly.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl) whisk together 3 cups of the flour, yeast, turmeric, and salt. Since the dough will sit for so long, there’s no need to proof it and jump-start the rising process. Just be sure that your yeast is very fresh, and indeed still active.
Separately, combine the agave, carrot juice, and melted margarine or coconut oil, and slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry goods while stirring. Add in the sunflower seeds and chopped dried tomatoes, and mix to incorporate. Add more flour 1/4 cup at a time if needed, until the dough is cohesive and no longer sticky but still tacky. If using a stand mixer, switch over to the dough hook attachment, and let it kneed on low speed for 5 – 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. This can also be done by hand on a lightly floured surface, but it will probably take closer to 10 – 12 minutes.
Lightly grease a large bowl, and plop your dough in, swirling it around gently to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and stash it in your fridge for at least 8 hours- Overnight is best.
In the morning, lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan. Set aside.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for about 5 minutes to smooth it out and redistribute the bubbles created by the yeast. Flatten it out into a rectangle no longer than the loaf pan, and roll it up like you would one giant cinnamon roll. Place it into the pan with the seam side down, and with a very sharp knife, make a slash down center in a straight line. Let rise until just about doubled in volume; about 1 hour.
As the loaf nears the proper size, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When ready, bake for for 45 – 50 minutes, until amber brown all over. If you’re unsure that it’s fully baked through, let it cool, and then tap the bottom of the loaf. It should sound hollow if properly done.
Let cool completely before slicing and savoring.
Makes 1 Loaf