This loaf is actually three breads in one – inspired by Marc’s Dharma Wheel bread in Episode 3. The three breads are wholemeal, a Tibetan monastery bread, and a Japanese milk bread that is made using the tangzhong method. In this technique, you make a roux, then add the remaining ingredients to create a particularly light and fluffy dough.
Start by making all the bread doughs. Combine all the ingredients for the starter – tangzhong – in a small pan and whisk over a low heat for about 1 minute, until smooth and thickened. Spoon into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and leave to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, make the Japanese milk bread. Add the spelt and white flours to the bowl with the starter. Crumble in the yeast and add the sugar and salt.
Heat the milk in a small pan on a low heat until lukewarm and add it to the bowl along with the melted butter, half the beaten egg (save the remainder for glazing later) and the ground fennel seeds.
Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and set aside for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size. Quickly make the remaining bread doughs, so that they all rise for about 45 minutes.
To make the wholemeal bread, combine both flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the toasted sunflower seeds, ground coriander seeds and salt and mix to combine. Crumble the yeast into the bowl and add the lukewarm water. Mix on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Scoop the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the Tibetan monastery bread. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 5–10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Cover and set aside to rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
Lightly dust the work surface with flour, turn out the wholemeal dough and roll it into a neat 30 x 45cm rectangle, keeping the long side nearest to you.
Roll out the Japanese milk bread in the same way and carefully lay it on top of the wholemeal bread. Then, repeat with the Tibetan bread, so that you have a neat triple-dough stack. With a long, sharp knife trim the long edge nearest to you and neatly and tightly roll the bread away from you into a spiral. Trim the top, long edge and the ends to neaten.
Cut the log in half along its length. With the cut sides uppermost, twist the two strands together into a rope and then join the ends of the rope together to form a ring shape, tucking the ends to neaten and seal them.
Place the loaf on the lined baking sheet, cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until nearly doubled in size and the dough is light and puffy. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
Beat the reserved egg with the milk and brush the glaze all over the loaf. Scatter the pumpkin, sesame and poppy seeds in neat lines across the loaf and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the loaf is well-risen, golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.