Hello friends! I’m sneaking in with a baking project for your weekend. A baking project that you might also consider meal planning for your week (because who doesn’t want a warm muesli muffin every morning of the week) . A baking project that could keep you indoors in the air conditioning for the hottest part of the afternoon and make your house smell like bread and success.
This recipe is a true mashup. It’s muesli meets pull-apart bread. It’s breakfast meets afternoon snack. It’s time to soften the butter and preheat the oven – this is a good one!
Despite this bread being packed to the gills with dried fruit, oats, and nuts – it’s really not too sweet at all. The sweetness comes from the fruit itself and isn’t overpowered by refined sugars. These muffins feels more like a hearty and wholesome breakfast bite. If your brain is like mine we might call it… Practically a Salad.
I bring this bread to you straight from one of the very best bakeries in Tel Aviv.
This is Uri Scheft of Lehamim Bakery. He’s a wild man.
At least, that was my immediate impression of Uri when I saw how be braids and slashes his incredible challah loaves, how much chocolate he smears into his famous babka, and how he literally chops together dough, dried fruit, whole eggs, and honey to make his Spelt and Muesli buns.
Where bakers are often strategic perfectionists, Uri is wild and free – BLESS!
I met Uri on a recent trip to beautiful Israel with Vibe Israel. I was lucky enough to get in the kitchen with some of the best bakers in Tel Aviv. The inspiration was bountiful, the breads swirled with chocolate, the cakes packed with pistachios. It was such a rich experience and I’ll have more recipes inspired by my travels around Israel in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, let this beautiful bread into your life. Feel wild. That’s the key.
We’ll start building this dough in layers.
The first layer is room temperature water and flax seeds. Allow the flax seeds to soak for 30 minutes. They’ll soften, thicken, and absorb some of the water.
Does the 30 minutes matter? Yes it does. Leave them be. Trust the process. We really do want to soften the seeds.
To the soaked flax and water add instant yeast.
You can use active dry yeast if that’s what you have on hand, just give the dough an extra 15 minutes or so in the rise.
Next we’ll layer flours and brown sugar – food for the yeast.
This recipe calls for two types of flour: all-purpose and spelt. Spelt flour looks very much like all-purpose flour but is derived from an ancient grain and has a bit more protein than it’s all-purpose counterpart.
If you don’t have spelt flour on hand you can substitute easily all-purpose flour – no problem.
A room temperature egg, a teaspoon or so of salt, and a few tablespoons of olive oil.
We’re making a lightly enriched dough, adding some luscious fat (but honestly, not too much).
Bring the dough together on a dough hook for several minutes.
You’ll see the flax seeds studded throughout the dough. The dough should have enough fat and flour to begin to cleanly pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels a little wet and sticky, add a bit more all-purpose flour. If the dough feels too dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
You’ll get a feel for it.
Turn the soft dough out onto a lightly floured counter.
We don’t want too much flour into the dough from the counter, so let’s go easy.
The dough should be moist to the touch but not sticky to the hands.
To knead the dough, we’ll use the heel of our hand to press the dough away (tearing the gluten strands as we extend the dough) and fold back into a ball. Rotate 45 degrees and press the dough away again, form into a ball, rotate and repeat.
The dough will begin to feel strong and more firm after 4 to 5 minutes of slow kneading.
Place the dough in a bowl that’s been lightly greased with olive oil. Allow to rest until it’s almost (but not quite) doubled in size – about 40 minutes.
Cozy the risen dough onto a lightly floured counter.
Now for the crazy fun part!
Use a metal bench scraper to slice a checkerboard pattern into the dough.
Top the checkerboard dough with ALL OF THE TOPPINGS.
I added dried cranberries though dried cherries would also be wonderful!
I added toasted pecans (mostly big halves of pecans) though hazelnuts or walnuts would also be a great idea.
Diced, pitted dried dates – a must.
Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds!
And we’re still going.
Fresh apple chunks (peel is nice) and a few tablespoons of old-fashioned oats.
We’ll add a few tablespoons of honey and two whole eggs – all right there on top of the dough and on top of the toppings.
If it feels wild and fun – you’re doing it right!
Next we’ll take the metal bench scraper to fold the dough into and mover the toppings.
The goal is to incorporate the egg and honey, to evenly disperse all the toppings, and actually chop into the dough making smaller chunks.
The dough will feel rather wet, full, and a little messy – trust, it’s all part of the process.
Shimmy small handfuls of the dough and toppings into two greased muffin tins.
Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle generously with old-fashioned oats. We’ll bake until golden!
Smear warm buns with softened butter and live your best life.
Photos with my friend Jon Melendez.