We all know one of the fastest ways to make a mess in the kitchen is sprinkling seeds, salt, or nuts over soon-to-be-baked goods. And even then, there’s no guarantee that those crunchy toppings will stick.
*This* is what you're looking for. Photo by Julia Gartland
The secret to getting a solid seed coating on free-form loaves? No sprinkling, says Emilie Raffa in her newest book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. The Clever Carrot blogger experimented with many different ways to get seeds and nuts to adhere to bread dough. “Egg wash, egg white, milk, cream—you name it,” she writes.
Instead, her best seed-coated bread begins with a tea towel. Raffa spreads her seeds on a damp kitchen towel on a flat surface. Next, with floured hands, she shapes the dough into an oval and brushes the top with water. Using a bench scraper, she then transfers the dough onto the seeded towel, wet-side down.
No more scattered seeds! Photos by Julia Gartland
From there, she lifts up the sides of the towel and rocks it back and forth (like a baby!). The combination of gravity and dampness keeps the seeds from going anywhere but the bread top. Once the dough is coated, she bakes it seed-side up, watching to make sure seeds don't burn in the oven. Now, this isn't a technique you can use for quick or other batter-based breads. But if you want a cleaner kitchen and crunchier crust, go ahead and give it a try.