Quite honestly, the best sandwich bread out there!
Prep Time: 30minutes
Cook Time: 1hour
Resting time: 3hours
Servings: 10to 12 servings (makes one 8x4" or 9x5" loaf)
1/4cupsteel cut oats
2tablespoonshoney(1 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2cupsboiling water
1tablespoonfresh yeast (or 2 teaspoons active dry or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1/2cupwhole wheat bread flour
2cupswhite bread flour, plus extra for kneading
vegetable oil for the bowl
butter for the pan
Soak the grains:
Pulse the millet and oats in a coffee grinder to the size of coarse meal or sand. Dump into a large bowl with the polenta, butter and honey. Pour the boiling water over and let sit, stirring once or twice, until the mixture feels just warm to the touch, about 30 - 45 minutes. (If the water is hotter than this, it could kill the yeast. But don't let the grains sit too long, or they may absorb too much water and throw your ratios off.)
Make the dough:
Crumble in the fresh yeast, stir, (if using active dry yeast, let the mixture sit for 10 minutes) then add the flaxseeds, whole wheat flour and salt. Begin adding the white flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. After about 1 1/4 cups the dough should form a rough, sticky mass. (If it is too dry at this point, sprinkle over a bit more water and continue stirring or kneading until it becomes sticky again.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a large plastic bag, and let the mixture sit for 15 - 20 minutes. (This is called autolyse, and it allows the starches in the flour to absorb the water and swell up, and the glutens to begin unfurling and forming straight lines. All of this makes the dough smoother and easier to knead, allowing you to add less flour and resulting in a wetter dough, which is what we want here.)
Uncover the bowl and scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, dusting your hands and surface with just enough flour to keep it from sticking, for about 10 minutes. The dough should feel smoother by the end, and should be a bit tacky but not sticking to things.
Round the dough into a boule and place in a large bowl coated lightly with oil. Turn to coat the dough with oil and leave the boule smooth side up. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 - 2 hours.
Shape the loaf:
Grease an 8x4" or 9x5" loaf pan with butter. Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted very lightly with a bit of flour. (A plastic scraper works wonderfully for this.) Pat the dough into a rectangle roughly 8x14", with a skinny side facing you. Roll the dough up snugly, cinnamon bun-style,and pinch the seam shut. Tuck the ends under the loafand roll the log a few times, seam side down, to smooth it out. Place the log, seam side down, in the greased pan, and put the whole shebang into a large plastic vegetable bag (or small garbage bag). Tie the end of the bag shut, leaving it inflated to give the loaf room to expand.
Let the loaf rise until doubled in bulk and 2" above the rim of the pan, 45 - 60 minutes. Meanwhile...
Prepare the oven:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400º. If you have a baking stone, put that on the rack. Place a metal or cast iron pan that you don't care about on the floor of the oven. You will put ice cubes in it to steam the oven, and it will become rusted and nasty.
Bake the bread:
Remove the bag. Fill a 1/2 cup measure with ice cubes. Open the oven and quickly but gently place the loaf pan on the baking stone, and toss the ice cubes into the pan on the floor of the oven. Close the door and don't open it again for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 350º. Rotate the pan and bake the loaf for 30 - 40 more minutes, for a total baking time of 50 - 60 minutes. A thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should register 195 - 200º. Optionally, for an extra-crisp crust, remove the loaf from the pan after 45 minutes and finish baking directly on the stone.
Remove the loaf from the pan and let cool completely before cutting (the internal steam is continuing to cook the interior of the bread) 1 - 2 hours.
Store the bread in a plastic bag or other airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
This is a straightforward, user-friendly, multi-grain bread recipe, an excellent place to start for the yeast-phobic. If you prefer, you can substitute any multi-grain hot cereal blend for the millet, oats and polenta.Nutritional values are based on one of ten servings.