Big Sur Hide Bread

This weekend, I made Big Sur Hide Bread again. I first tried it two years ago, and I liked it, but I honestly wasn’t quite satisfied with how they turned out. The rolls were flat (didn’t rise), and incredibly dense, and the crust was too tough after the day I baked them. I didn’t think there was a problem with the recipe – I thought there was a problem with my implementation of it. I liked the flavor of the rolls and I liked how quick they were to make, so I wanted to try again and do the recipe justice.

To prepare, I took a look through the comments on the original recipe to see if other bakers had the same issues I did. It sounds like they did, so the lackluster results of my original attempt couldn’t entirely be my fault, unless I just measure very heavy cups of flour. I made a few changes in ingredients, and I’m really happy with the results.

Big Sur Hide Bread
Big Sur Hide Bread

This is an incredibly easy bread to make. It’s fast to get into the oven, and you don’t have to wait to eat it. It yields a lot – 15 rolls – so you get a large return on your investment of time. It’s very healthy, and works well with dinner or as breakfast.

Big Sur Hide Bread (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

4 1/4 cups flour (1 cup of this was white whole wheat flour)
1 3/4 cups seeds/small grains [I used 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds; 3/8 cup quinoa; and 1/4 cup poppy seeds]
2 cups oat bran
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 cup beer (mine was a brown lager)
2 1/2 cups milk

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl; I used the bowl from my stand mixer, and it was full. Add beer and milk, and stir until a wet batter forms. Dump onto a floured surface, and loosely shape into a log 2 inches in diameter; I made this easier by shaping two logs. Slice into 15 rolls. Reshape into rounds, brushing off excess flour, and place on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 375F for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Serve as accompaniment to soup, or slice and toast like an English muffin. Be sure to slice before storing because the crust will become hard and difficult to cut.

This turned out much better than before. The milk gave the bread extra tenderness that it had been lacking, and I think it helped the baking soda have a better reaction. Less flour made the rolls more tender and allowed them to rise, even though it made the batter stickier.

These were still hearty. Sunflower seeds were a dominant flavor, given the large dose of them. I really didn’t notice the whole wheat flour or oat bran, although I know they made this bread pretty healthy. The rolls were good, untoasted right after baking, with a beef vegetable soup I made. I don’t eat butter as a spread, but almond or peanut butter suits these rolls very well. In fact, one of these, toasted, with almond butter is exactly what I plan on having for breakfast for the next several days.

Big Sur Hide Bread, split and toasted, one half with almond butter
Big Sur Hide Bread, split and toasted, one half with almond butter

I enjoyed the crunch of the crust, but the rolls will only get more difficult to cut in the upcoming days. My plan is to split them now so that I don’t have to try cutting them after the crusts further harden. Yes, that means they’ll dry a little, but you won’t notice it after you toast them and add some kind of spread.

In general, I’m very happy to rehabilitate this recipe. I’ve thought about it, on and off, for the past two years, wanting to give this recipe another chance to shine, and I’m glad I did. These are hearty, English-muffin style rolls that work well as dinner accompaniment as well as not-too-sweet warm breakfast. They’re healthy and simple and quick to make, and it would be an easy recipe to halve.

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