Sunflower Loaf

Sunflower Loaf


Very short and sweet this week!

This week I’ve got some instructions for you to make a showstopper of a loaf. There is a recipe, but really, you could make this from any bread dough you fancy.

In terms of variations, this works fabulously as a pull-apart bread, so layering in some additional flavourings such as cheese, butter,  garlic, onions (spring and/or caramelised), chili and herbs when brushing the dough with the olive oil can turn it into a great accompaniment as well as an eye-catching table centrepiece.


700g flour
2 sachets fast-action yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoons salt
60ml olive oil
250ml warm milk
2 large eggs
warm water if required

olive oil for brushing
beaten egg for glazing
dark seeds – e.g. black sesame, poppy, caraway

  • Mix the flour, yeast sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  • Whisk the oil, milk and eggs together and mix into the dry ingredients until the mixture comes together into a soft dough.
  • If the mixture is too dry, add sufficient warm water to bring the dough together.
  • Knead for 10 minutes until smooth.
  • Cover and set aside to rise until doubled in size. Due to the richness of the dough, this may take up to 2-3 hours.
  • Tip out dough and pat down.

Constructing the Sunflower

  • Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
  • Set one half aside.
  • Divide the other half into three equal pieces.
  • Set one of these pieces aside.
  • Take the two pieces of dough and divide each in half, making four equal pieces.
  • For each of these four pieces of dough:
    • Roll out thinly into a circle.
    • Brush with olive oil.
  • Stack the four circles of dough on top of one another. Set aside.

Four--layer stack of dough circles

  • Divide the remaining large piece of dough into five equal pieces and repeat the rolling/stacking as above.

Five-layer stack of dough

  • For each stack of dough, make cuts to divide them into eight equal pieces. DO NOT cut through the edges of the dough circles. To get a nice sharp cut, use a dough scraper and then finish off by snipping with scissors.


  • Now for the slightly tricky part:
    • Slide the smaller stack onto some parchment paper.
    • Slide the large stack of dough onto the small stack.
    • Arrange the large stack so that the cuts DO NOT line up with the ones underneath, by rotating it 22.5 degrees. Obviously I don’t expect you to get out a protractor, just make sure the cuts in the large stack of dough are between the cuts in the smaller stack of dough.

Stacking the stacks

  • Now to open up the flower petals.
    • Fold out each section of the large stack of dough, easing the layers apart as you do so.
    • You will end up with a ring of dough and a star-burst of petals radiating outwards, and the smaller stack of dough is visible in the centre of the dough ring.

Folding out

  • Repeat the unfolding with the smaller stack of dough, remembering to ease the ‘petals’ apart, but being careful not to distort their shape.
  • Take the remaining piece of dough and shape it into a smooth ball.
  • Drop the ball of dough into the middle of the flower.
  • Brush all over with beaten egg. Try and avoid the cut surfaces as the egg might accidentally ‘glue’ the petals together.
  • Scatter the middle with dark seeds to make the centre of the sunflower.
  • Slide a baking sheet underneath the parchment and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until crisp, golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

7 Comments on “Sunflower Loaf”

  1. Lorraine says:

    WOW! That’s beautiful… guess what I’m going to be doing with my next batch of bread dough (made some yesterday so it will be a few days)… Thanks Mary Anne xxx

  2. Maggie says:

    This is the most beautiful image of a loaf of bread I have ever seen. So well executed and worth every moment of your time. Fabulous:)

  3. makedospend says:

    This looks fantastic, a lovely idea. I like how the layers give the dough a laminated/croissant like appearance, i’ll certainly be giving this a try 🙂

  4. carrietxxxxx says:

    Love it !…roll on summer on this freezing February day.I can imagine this as a centre piece at an outdoor picnic. I’m thinking of a way to use the packet of little black onion seeds that I bought & not actually used for anything yet! They might give it another interesting flavour. Love your use of graphics got the idea straight away.Your directions are always so thoughtful .You REALLY want us make them !

  5. Francesca says:

    I wish I could make bread; this is beautiful. Thank you Mary-Anne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.