Homemade Multigrain Bread
This “almost no knead” recipe was inspired by Cook’s Illustrated and numerous other sources on the Internet that have posted recipes for wonderful rustic, no knead boules of artisan bread. I wanted to create a loaf that would be just as easy to make, yet turn out soft and suitable for sandwiches. I experimented with a couple dozen loaves using various ingredients and baking methods to finally settle on this recipe for a lovely, soft bread that uses enough whole wheat flour and mixed whole grains to create a healthy loaf of bread that makes you feel all grown up, yet still tastes light enough that even kids will like it.
This recipe makes one loaf in a pan measuring 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches at the top (inside dimensions); but you can double it for two loaves, bake half and refrigerate the remainder for another loaf if you use it within a week.
1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill 7 Grain Hot Cereal (or another mix that you can buy in bulk, but make sure it’s about the consistency of coarse cornmeal)
1-1/8 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (I like Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold flour. This amount weighs about 5.2 ounces.)
2 cups white all purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoons regular table salt
1/4 teaspoon INSTANT yeast‑‑and yes, you read that right, just a quarter teaspoon to allow for a good, slow rise with no kneading required. (I use SAF or Instant Success, easy to find at grocery stores.)
1 tablespoon of a mild-tasting oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar (optional, but helps add a more complex flavor)
1-1/2 cups water, divided
MIXING THE DOUGH:
Place the dry hot cereal mix into a medium bowl. Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil, then stir it into the cereal. Leave to cool a bit while measuring and mixing the dry ingredients.
In a larger bowl, mix together the flours, yeast, and salt.
Go back to your lovely bowl of cereal and mix into it the oil, honey, vinegar, and remaining 1/2 cup of water. Make sure this is no warmer than 110 degrees, then add it to the flour mixture and work in well with a Danish dough whisk or heavy wooden spoon.
Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl that is at least twice the capacity of the dough. Cover the dough loosely with a piece of oiled or sprayed plastic wrap. Leave it alone and let it work its magic for at least 8 hours (or overnight). The dough will be ready to form into a loaf and bake when it has doubled in volume and is full of wonderful bubbly holes.
BAKING THE LOAVES:
Turn the dough out onto a board floured with white all purpose flour. Sprinkle enough more flour onto the dough to make it easy to handle if it is very sticky. Work the dough into a smooth loaf with a few turns and light kneading movements. (I said this was ALMOST no knead bread!)
Cover the outside of the bread pan with foil to keep the bottom and side crusts from becoming too dark. Butter or spray the inside of the pan and place the shaped loaf, prettiest side up, into the pan and cover it loosely with plastic wrap that has been oiled or sprayed so it doesn’t stick to the dough and deflate it when you remove it. Let rise in a warm place until the dough has risen just a bit above the top of the pan no more than an inch or so, because it will rise even more as it begins to bake. Don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap!
Place the pan into a COLD oven and turn the heat to 390 degrees F. (Yes, this goes against all other baking instructions in the whole world, but this has worked well for me every time. If you preheat the oven, you will have to adjust the cooking time.) After 20 minutes in the oven, place a foil “tent” loosely over the bread, just like folks do with a Thanksgiving turkey. This will allow the top to brown nicely, more so than the sides and bottom, but not become too dark.
Bake for another 40 minutes (total of 1 hour baking time). Remove the top piece of foil and tap the loaf. If it sounds hollow, remove it from the pan immediately and place on a wire rack to cool. (You might need to give the bread a bit more time in the oven without the foil, but usually just a couple more minutes will be about right.) Brush the top of the loaf with melted butter. When completely cool, if the crust isn’t as soft as you’d like it, you can place the loaf into a plastic bag for a while to totally soften it. An electric knife is wonderful to use for slicing the bread.
Enjoy! Keep at room temperature and use within a few days. One of the downsides to homemade bread: no preservatives means you can’t keep it out for very long but you can always freeze it!