The first thing that really impressed me about this bread was that my children actually ate the crust!! It's really soft, and has a fantastic flavor. It's really tasty warm, and tastes just as good the next day.
In a small bowl (or liquid measuring cup) :
3/4 a cup warm water (105-115 F) then sprinkle over the top 1 tablespoon active dry yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar, stir to mix. Let sit about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups warm milk (I put mine in a tall plastic cup in the microwave for 30 seconds)
4 tablespoons (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup wheat bran (The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups, I added a little less, feel free to adjust amount for your taste)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds.
Beat hard, then add 2 cups unbleached all purpose or bread flour with the yeast mixture. Beat hard until creamy, about two minutes. Then add the remaining 3 cups of flour 1/2 a cup at a time until the dough reaches the desired consistency. (I ended up using 6-7 cups flour total, so keep in mind you may use more or less)
Turn out onto desired surface and knead 5-10 minutes.
Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a greased bowl (turn to coat when placing in bowl) cover with plastic wrap.
After rising, divide dough into two equal portions (I usually weigh mine just because I tend to be a perfectionist and I like the loaves to be the same, totally unnecessary!!) ;) Shape and place in greased pans, rise in pans for 45 minutes. (I cover mine with the plastic wrap from the bowl so the top doesn't dry out). 20 minutes before baking preheat oven to 375 F. Bake loaves 40-45 minutes.
Place on a cooling rack, if you can't help yourself slice a warm piece after about 15 minutes. Just remember it doesn't slice as well when hot! Mmmm.
Side note: I always save my heels since they don't get eaten around here. After collecting 4-5 bread batches worth and they are good and dry I throw them in the blender and thus have a never ending supply of bread crumbs in the freezer. :)
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