Fennel Seed Bread Recipe

 

The fennel seed is a a beautiful ingredient for bread baking – think subtle aniseed with warm, sweet aromas. This fennel seed bread recipe brings out the best of the seed’s aromatic flavours. A flavoursome breakfast bread for any day of the week!

For my fennel bread recipe, I’ve chosen a combination of flours: strong white wheat and maize flour. Taking a look at other bakers’ recipes, there are plenty of fennel and nut combos, specifically hazelnuts (e.g. Ottolenghi’s fennel seed crackers or Hamelman’s hazelnut and fig bread with fennel seeds and rosemary). Dried fruits such as raisins, cherries or figs are also popular fennel seed companions (e.g. Andrew Whitley’s semolina, raisin and fennel bannock). As such, I’ve opted for a fennel bread which includes nuts and dried fruit and it works beautifully.

Fennel seed bread
Fennel seed bread

Fennel Seed Bread Recipe

My recipe uses a fruit, nut and fennel seed soaker to infuse some of the liquid that goes into the dough to extract some extra flavour from the seeds and to soften the raisins pre-bake.
I provided options for both a yeast-based and a sourdough-based version of this bread below.

Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds

Yeast-Based Fennel Bread Recipe

This recipe is based on a small of amount of dried yeast as the leavening agent.

Ingredients

Soaked raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed mix

  • 50g raisins
  • 50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (you can also use almonds)
  • 6g fennel seeds
  • 100g water, hot

Main dough

  • 450g strong white wheat flour
  • 75g maize flour
  • 9g salt
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 315g water
Fennel seed bread slice
Fennel seed bread slice

How to make fennel seed bread

  1. Prepare the raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed soaker by lightly toasting the fennel seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and roughly crush with the pestle. Combine the fennel seeds and other soaker ingredients in a bowl, stirring before covering the bowl. Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight.
  2. After this, combine all of the main dough ingredients and add the liquid from the soaker.
  3. Form a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  4. Place in a bowl and cover for about an hour. The dough will have visibly risen by then.
  5. Take the dough back out of the bowl and fold in the raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed soaker until distributed evenly throughout the dough.
  6. Shape the dough into a round loaf, cover the outside with flour and place into a pre-floured proofing basket.
  7. Cover the proofing basket in a polythene bag to prevent the dough from drying out.
  8. Rest for an hour or two until the dough is fully proofed.
  9. Preheat the oven to 220°C and – if you are using a baking dome – preheat the dome from cold at the same time.
  10. Turn out the fennel seed loaf onto the baking dome plate (or otherwise a baking tray lined with baking paper) and score the bread with a scoring knife. Cover the dome if using.
  11. Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 200°C for another 45 minutes. Take off the baking dome lid for the final 10 minutes to brown the loaf nicely.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.

Sourdough-Based Fennel Bread Recipe

This version of the recipe doesn’t use commercial yeast, but uses sourdough starter instead.

Ingredients

Sourdough starter

  • 25g wheat sourdough starter
  • 100g strong white bread flour
  • 100g water

Soaked raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed mix

  • 50g raisins
  • 50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (you can also use almonds)
  • 6g fennel seeds
  • 100g water, hot

Main dough

  • 350g strong white wheat flour
  • 75g maize flour
  • 9g salt
  • 215g water

How to make fennel seed bread

  1. Refresh the sourdough starter by combining the sourdough ingredients mentioned above in a medium bowl. Mix well, cover with a lid and set aside at room temperature for at least four hours or overnight.
  2. At the same time, prepare the raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed soaker by lightly toasting the fennel seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and roughly crush with the pestle. Combine the fennel seeds and other soaker ingredients in a bowl, stirring before covering the bowl. Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight.
  3. After this, combine all of the main dough ingredients with 200g of the refreshed sourdough starter (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake) and add the liquid from the soaker.
  4. Follow steps 3 to 12 as in the yeast-bread recipe version above. However, please allow more time for step 4 and step 8 as the process will take quite a bit longer using sourdough instead of yeast.

Enjoy!

I also used fennel seeds in this Moroccan bread recipe.

Polenta Bread Recipe (Sourdough)

 

I love polenta and it tastes awesome in bread. Here is my polenta bread recipe for a sourdough loaf with pumpkin and sunflower seeds inspired by Dan Lepard’s polenta bread in The Handmade Loaf.

Polenta bread slices
Check out the wonderful colour on these polenta bread slices

Polenta bread recipe with seeds

Day 1

Sourdough

  • 50g 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 100g strong bread flour
  • 100g fine wholewheat flour
  • 200g water

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and cover for 24 hours.

Toasted Seed Soaker

  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 80g water

Toast the seeds in a small saucepan and cover with the water. Cover for 24 hours.

Day 2

  • 50g polenta
  • 175g water
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 300g white flour
  • 50g maizemeal
  • 7g salt
  1. Oil a dinner plate with the olive oil (use a brush to spread).
  2. Place 50g polenta and 100g water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil; stir while it thickens and wraps itself to the stirring spoon.
  3. Remove from the heat and from the pan right away; spoon the polenta onto the dinner plate and flatten it out across the whole surface.
  4. Place another dinner plate (up side down) on top and leave to cool slightly.
  5. Combine the flours and salt, the cooled down polenta, the remaining water (75g), 400g of the sourdough and the seed soaker in a large bowl.
  6. Knead for 10 minutes.
  7. Place back into the bowl, cover and leave for about 1.5 hours.
  8. Give the dough another quick knead.
  9. Prepare a proving basket by flouring the surface in order to prevent the wet dough from sticking. Alternatively, if you have one, use a Lékué bread maker, it’ll make the proving and baking process much easier.
  10. Shape the dough into a loaf and move around in a flour bath (covering the whole loaf surface) before placing it into the proving basket seam-side up.
  11. Cover with a polythene bag and keep in a warm place for 3-5 hours until well risen. The time may vary widely based on the temperature in your room. Give it some extra time if the dough needs to rise more.
  12. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  13. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  14. Turn out the dough onto the baking tray and score the dough by making several diagonal incisions.
  15. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Polenta bread
Polenta bread – delicious with cheeses and cold cuts of meat