Hubs reckons I must have been a bird in a previous life, on account of my obsession with crusty seeded breads. If it's not flax, it's pumpkin, or else millet, except when I remember to buy sesame.

It was close to sunset  when I realised we wouldn't have enough bread for breakfast so I quickly started filling my mixing bowl with flour and wheatmeal, only to realise seconds later that I hadn't replenished my store of flax or any other of my favourite seeds.

Thankfully, I had one  unopened bag of sunflower seeds, which I'd bought on a whim, so that went into the mix, in place of my beloved flax. I've actually never made sunflower seed bread before, for  reasons I can't think of right now. Perhaps with so many other more exotic seeds and grains to choose from, the so familiar it's almost boring sunflower kernel just never pierced my consciousness or grabbed my imagination.

Well, sometimes familiar and boring can be exactly what you want, though you may not know it! I'm really glad I finally made this - and for all of hubby's calling my favourite loaves "bird seed bread", he had to agree that this loaf makes the best toast he's ever had. The smell of toasting sunflower seeds, the nutty, barely sweet flavour and most of all, the brittle, almost glass-like crunch of the crumb shattering against your teeth will keep you coming back to the kitchen to toast slice after slice of this. Did I ever tell you, that I hate toast? Yes, it's that good....

Prep 3 1/2 hrs        Cook 30 mins        Makes 2 loaves

300 g (3 level teacups) white bread flour
200 g wheatmeal (coarsely ground wholewheat)
2 level tsp sugar
1 1/2 level tsp salt
2 1/2 level tsp instant yeast
350 ml (1 3/4 teacups) tepid water
3 Tbsp flavourless vegetable oil
100 g (1 level teacup) raw shelled sunflower seeds - divided

Combine flour, wheatmeal, sugar and salt in mixing bowl and stir thoroughly with a whisk. Stir in yeast thoroughly.

Pour in water and mix on speed 2 (low) for 3 minutes. Scrape dough off hook and down into bowl. Cover bowl and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Add oil to dough and knead on speed 2 for 8 minutes. Add 2/3 of sunflower seeds and knead for a final 2 minutes to incorporate and distribute seeds throughout dough. Scrape dough down and turn out onto a lightly greased surface. Grease hands and shape dough into a neat and smooth ball. Grease inside of bowl and return dough to bowl, turn around to coat with oil and rest inside bowl seam side down. Cover and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Turn dough out onto work surface and divide equally into 2. Spread remaining sunflower seeds out on counter, in an even layer. Shape dough into two tight and neat ovals and pinch seam to seal. Gently roll dough back and forth across sunflower seeds. Gently press seeds on and neaten ovals.

Place seam side down on parchment lined baking tray and spritz loaves with a light layer of water to help seeds stick. Cover each loaf with a clean, tented plastic grocery bag and leave  to proof for about 45 minutes.Preheat oven at 250 C (480 F) twenty minutes before loaves are ready to go in.

When loaves are ready, slash and give each loaf about 4 or 5 spritzes of water. Bake for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 220 C (430 F) and bake another 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 190 C (375 F) and bake a final 10 minutes.

Remove loaves from oven and immediately cool on a rack. Wait till cool before slicing with a very sharp serrated knife.