Honeyed Multigrain Loaf

This is a wonderfully tasty and hearty bread recipe adjusted for our grains from a recipe apparantly first found in “The Baker’s Apprentice”. It’s delicious and moist with a sweetness that develops as it’s kept (not that it lasts too long in our house!). To make really flavourful toast it’s best to use after a couple of days and then either use a grill or turn the toaster up and even toast twice as it takes longer than supermarket bread to toast.

 

If this looks to be a long process at first scan, keep reading as you simply put the ingredients for the soak mix in the evening before and they're ready in the morning, or whenever you want to make the loaf. Soaking ingredients helps the starches transform into sugars and the soaker mix can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days provided the temperature is low enough, so when “life happens” and you can’t get round to making the loaf today don’t worry, make it tomorrow!

 

If you don’t have wheat or rye bran to hand sieve the flours at this point and use the bran from that sifting in the soak mix.

 

For the soak mix place in a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal):

  • 30g (3T) coarse rolled Saul oats (rolled quinoa or millett seeds are also great)
  • 30g (3T) medium ground wheat or rye bran
  • 30g (3T) fine ground yellow maize

Mix together and add

  • 30g (3T) local honey
  • 125ml water

Combine well and cover the bowl with a lid or cling film and place in the fridge to rehydrate the grains. Leave overnight or 8 hours minimum.

 

Also required for the loaf are 30g cooked whole grains, we enjoy rye grains best but any other grains or brown rice can be used. To make the cooked grains simply put into cold water and bring to the boil, stir then simmer until cooked, they are left to cool once done – again this can happen the night before and the grains left in the fridge ready for the next morning.

 

Combine all the ingredients, being careful not to put the yeast next to the salt in the mixing bowl:

  • the soaked mix
  • 30g cooked grains
  • 10g (2t salt)
  • 30g linseeds or other seeds preferred
  • 30g brown or white sugar
  • 240g fine sifted Soissons wheat flour
  • 240g fine sifted Solstice wheat flour
  • 7g (1 sachet) instant yeast
  • 125ml buttermilk, plain yoghurt or milk
  • 190ml water

(You may also need 20g oatmeal or seeds or a combination of both for sprinkling once shaped if you prefer a seeded top)

 

Taking a tip from bread making machines I now always put the liquid ingredients in the bowl first then add the dry and I find it mixes far more easily. I use my Danish dough whisk to combine the ingredients until I can get my hands in to really start bringing the dough together, at this point I adjust the flour/water as necessary to allow the dough to come out of the mixing bowl fairly cleanly, although it will still be tacky. Turn out onto a lightly oiled work surface or I prefer a silicone mat and work together to form a coherent ball of dough, once this happens I discard the mat and start to knead in earnest. Most people find there is a great joy in rhythmically kneading a dough, feeling it become smoother and more elastic. For me, it’s a therapeutic process, a kind of 10-12 minutes to let the mind wander and appreciate the miracles of nature as ingredients combine and the magic starts to happen that will bake into such a tasty treat.

 

I prefer to mix by hand but a mixing machine will do a good job of combining and rough kneading dough in around 6-8 minutes. If you use a mixer then finish off the knead by hand, this really does make a difference to the structure of the finished loaf.

 

Once the dough is smooth and elastic and the gluten strands well-formed oil the mixing bowl (or any other large enough) place the dough in and roll it round to ensure it’s coated in oil to preserve the moisture whilst its rising. Cover the bowl with cling film, making sure that this will not restrict the dough rising and leave to double in size. Around 1.5 to 2 hours, although depending on the temperature of the location this may take longer.

 

Leaving the loaf in a cool area will increase the length of proving time and increase the depth of flavour as more of the starches are converted to sugars, to speed the proving up put it in a warmer place, taking care that it is not too hot as this will prematurely kill the yeast. If your oven has the right setting, some successfully prove dough in the oven with just the light on but be sure that the oven element is not on. This may sound obvious but the big thing to remember is that you need live yeast to make the rise, you can’t kill yeast with cold – but you can kill it with heat.

 

Once the dough has doubled in size remove it from the bowl onto a lightly oiled surface and shape it by flattening into a rectangle lightly, so as not to knock all the air out, then folding into 3 and pinching the ends to form a traditional loaf in a 2lb tin, or shape into rolls or a freeform loaf as preferred.

 

Lightly mist the top of the loaf with water and sprinkle with the seeds and/or oats then spray with oil and cover with cling film, making sure that there is plenty of room for the dough to rise and not be restricted by the cling film, and leave to prove again until doubled in size.

 

Depending on how long your oven takes to preheat, turn it on to 180oC in time to be hot when the dough has finished rising. If you want to make the steam necessary for a great crispy crust, and provided your oven manual allows the practice, place an old baking tin on the lowest shelf to heat up, do not put directly onto the bottom of the oven. With modern ovens these tend to heat up fairly quickly and around 15 minutes will do the trick.

 

Once the loaf is fully risen mist the surface with water before placing it on the middle shelf the oven and, taking great care not to scald yourself in the steam that erupts, pour a cup full of cold water into the baking tin on the lowest shelf and closing the door quickly to keep the steam in. Bake for around 40 – 45 minutes, check the loaf after 25 minutes to make sure that it is not browning too quickly and put a piece of foil loosely over if necessary. Check that the loaf is fully baked by listening for the hollow sound when the bottom is tapped after removing from the tin, if not return it to the oven out of the tin for a further 5 minutes.

 

Allow to cool on a rack before cutting as cutting bread hot from the oven and releasing the steam too early will make a substantial difference to the structure of the finished loaf. Resist until almost cool and enjoy the loaf at its very best.