This recipe originally came from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, a visually stunning cookbook that also tells the story of the restaurant’s proprietors and life on California’s central coast. The recipe came from one of the friends of the Bakery, Terry “Hide” Prince; however, take warning from the name, as you’ll probably need to hide some of these away from the rest of your family if you want to have any left for yourself.
These rolls, densely brimming with grains and seeds, are akin to English muffins, in that you have to toast them before you eat them. That being said, Thomas’ pale in comparison – both literally and figuratively. No yeast is required; this is soda bread at its finest. Choose a dark beer that you would like to drink, but if you have an aversion to using alcohol I believe water is an acceptable substitute, although I have not tried this myself. Try not to be daunted by the long list of ingredients. Almost all of them can be found at any decent supermarket, and those you can't find - particularly the grains and seeds - can be substituted with any others. The actual process is surprisingly simple and when you consider how amazing these taste, you'll see that they are entirely worth the effort.
Katherine and I have made these together a handful of times, and have come to take great liberties with the recipe. For one, we’ve veganized it, substituting coconut milk for the buttermilk recommended in the original. If you are concerned, don’t be. No coconut taste remains. Otherwise, we’ve altered (read: significantly increased) the amount of grains and seeds, such that the rolls just barely hold together after they're baked, but what this version lacks in structural integrity, it more than makes up for in flavor. The following is our own version of these delicious rolls:
|4 cups all-purpose flour||1/2 cup sunflower seeds||2 tablespoons dulse flakes|
|1 cup (sprouted) whole wheat flour||1/2 cup quinoa||1 teaspoon baking soda|
|1/2 cup flax seed (meal)||1/3 cup millet||1/2 cup dark beer|
|1/2 cup sesame seeds||1/4 cup amaranth||2 cups coconut milk|
|1/2 cup oat bran||1 teaspoon sea salt|
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a frying pan, toast the flax seeds until just warm. Grind them into a meal using a small blender or spice/coffee grinder. (We recommend using the Magic Bullet with the flat blade.) Use the same pan to toast the sesame seeds, oat bran, sunflower seeds, quinoa, millet and amaranth.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir them together and make a well in the center. Add the beer and coconut milk and mix with a wooden spoon and eventually your hands, until a thick dough forms. Sprinkle the dough with flour and turn out onto a floured surface, then roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Of course, you can work with half the dough at a time, if that's more manageable for you. Cut the roll(s) into 1.5-inch slices, then form them into patties with your hands. Place the patties on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.
A few other notes: Most recently, I used sprouted whole wheat flour for the wheat flour in the recipe. While this almost certainly added nutritional value to the rolls, it did not alter the taste much, as compared to using regular whole wheat flour, so the regular stuff works just fine. The original recipe called for whole flax seeds, but unless they're ground, those tend to pass right through the digestive system without imparting their myriad benefits. Toasting the seeds and grains beforehand is optional but recommended (this was Katherine's idea and it's brilliant), as doing so brings out a toasty, nutty flavor that is just wonderful. Finally, the dulse (seaweed) can be found at a health food store (see photo so you know what you're looking for - you may have to crumble it into pieces by hand in order to measure it in tablespoons, or you can buy it already in flake form).
To serve these, you'll need to toast them first. Then, they taste amazing smeared with ghee (clarified butter) and some raw honey, but you should feel free to experiment with the toppings.