Current Multigrain Bread Recipe

This is what I’m currently doing for multigrain bread at home:

1 packet yeast
1/2 cup warm water

Mix these in the mixer bowl and wait to see if the yeast is good.

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup barley flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup kamut flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup wheat bran
1-1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup melted shortening (canola oil is fine if you don’t have shortening)
1/3 cup molasses

Mix these with the yeast/water to form the sponge. Use the standard mixing paddle rather than the dough hook, as there won’t be enough density for the dough hook to get into. Put this in a largish container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, put the following into the mixer bowl:

2 cups of bread flour
1 tablespoon salt

Mix, then pour on the sponge from last night. Mix using the dough hook and add more bread flour until the dough forms a ball and is not sticking to the bowl. You’ll probably need to add 1 to 2 cups more bread flour. Add it in 1/4-cup increments. (Note the proportions: it’s about a 1:1 ratio between the various whole grain stuff and the white bread flour. There’s also the standard 3:1 ratio between the dry team and the wet team.)

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes once it comes together and is no longer sticking to the bowl. Then mush the dough around in the bowl and kneed/mix for 10 more minutes for extra gluten formation.

Put the dough ball into a large greased bowl, cover and keep warm. The dough should be relatively cold, with the sponge coming from the fridge, but after a few hours, it will have doubled in size.

Note that if you’re in a rush, you can skip the sponge step, and combine all the ingredients together in one shot. The dough will double in about an hour in this case, depending on ambient temperature. The overnight sponge thing was something from Alton Brown’s bread episode: you’re giving the yeast a time to slowly ferment the flour, so they don’t burn themselves out, as they would at room temperature.

AP flour can be used instead of bread flour, but the resulting loaf will be a little more “crumbly”. Actually, bread flour is strongly recommended for multigrain bread, since a lot of the grains you’re using won’t have much gluten to start with, and you have to get that from somewhere. Yeah, there are gluten additives, but I haven’t tried those yet.

With the dough ball doubled in size, beat it down and divide into portions. I usually put half to 2/3 into large greased zip locks to keep in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for longer (defrost in the fridge overnight in the latter case). The portion you’re going to use can be formed into whatever shape you want. Let it rise for an hour or so, then into the oven.

I’ve been using the toaster oven for bread baking. Half the dough can be further divided into 3 or 4 decent-sized rolls, which bake in 25 minutes with the toaster oven set to bake at 425F. Larger rolls/loafs will take longer. If all the dough were in one large mass, it takes about 40 minutes in the toaster oven; larger masses aren’t recommended for the small baking space, as the heat isn’t distributed evenly enough and the dough near the back will burn a bit in the 40 minute interval. Putting 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the oven also helps: the steam keeps the dough moist, so it expands more easily.

Note also that the “multigrains” I have in this recipe were simply accumulated over a couple weeks, mainly because I either saw the bag on sale at the local megamart, or the bag had an interesting description of how ancient and wonderful so-and-so grain is. (Yes, I’m a sucker for marketing.) The mix wasn’t the result of careful experimentation and experience. You can use different grains, depending on what you have on hand, what may be on sale, or what may have intriguing marketing. The mix I have gives a good, nutty, flavorful bread, much better than plain white bread. The molasses isn’t too sweet, and makes the bread pretty dark.

Last note: I’m baking on silicone bake sheets. Silpat is the main brandname, but Wal-Mart has similar items for cheap, but made in China rather than France (silicone production is not France’s comparative advantage).

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