Every so often I have to bake my own multi-grain bread. I just don’t like the bread you get in the supermarket. I have a habit of reading the ingredients on the back of almost anything I buy including bread, and if I see words I can’t even pronounce I will put it right back in the shelf. I know it’s weird, but that’s me. There are only a handful of bakeries where I like the bread and they are too far away so I bake it myself. I rarely bake white bread and if I do, it’s because my kids are bagging me to do it. Otherwise I prefer organic multi-grain bread or whole wheat bread. The reason why I prefer organic ingredients are; first the taste is superior and second I know what’s in my bread. If you can’t afford to buy organic ingredients don’t sweat it, but buy unbleached flour. This is a recipe, which I’ve been using for years and is created for a 6 qt KitchenAid mixer with a knead hook. If you are using a smaller 4 or 5 qt bowl or a food processor just make several batches out of this recipe.
Tip: The ingredients in this recipe have worked for me, should you encounter any problems such as a dense bread use less rye flour. If the dough is too wet add more flour. I usually grind the seeds and walnuts in a food processor to about a ¼ of the original size, but that is up to you. If you do not like seeds leave them out, however they’ll give your bread a nice crunch and flavor. Should you like your bread with a touch of sweetness add a 2 or 3 tbsp of honey.
This multi-grain bread recipe will make two 2 lb loaf pans or four 1 lb loaf pans.
5 cups unbleached organic flour
3.5 cups organic whole wheat flour
2 cups organic rye flour
1/2 cup organic flax meal
1/2 cup organic sunflower seeds
1/2 cup organic pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup organic walnuts
2.5 tbsp cocoa
1.5 tbsp salt
1.75 tbsp dry yeast
0.5 cup of warm milk 105 degrees Fahrenheit
About 5 cups of water
dash of balsamic vinegar
dash of oil
Mix yeast and warm milk in a bowl cover it and let sit for 5 min for the yeast do its job. Place all other dry ingredients in the mixer bowl. Making sure all ingredients are incorporated. Add the yeast which should have doubled in volume. Begin mixing ingredients on low-speed and add water to it and mix until it shapes like a ball. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes and knead it again for about a minute. Remove dough from bowl and let rest for a few minutes. Knead the dough again by hand for about 2 minutes, by folding and pressing it down. Place dough in a container dusted with flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel. I usually place it in my oven, which I had run previously for about 2 minutes just to bring up the temperature to about 90 °F. If you have a sunny spot such as a window board, that would work too. Let dough rise until it doubles in volume or 45-50 minutes. Now it’s time to knead the dough until all air has disappeared. That is usually done in less than 2-3 minutes of kneading. Many bakers let the dough rise again before finally forming it in to shape.
So if you have the time let it rise again for another hour, then knead it again and form it into shape. This is done by using both hands rotating the dough circle wise on the table pressing the dough softly between both hands, until it takes the shape of a ball. You might have to give it a little break so that you don’t over work the dough. Now you’re ready to shape and fit the dough into the loaf form. You do this by rolling the dough under your hands pressing and rolling it on the table until it gets longer and wider. When placing dough into the greased and flour dusted loaf pan press it down firmly so it fits evenly. If you do not have a loaf pan bake in a shape of a half-size ball about 1 lb each or shape it in to rolls as seen on the picture. Then let dough rise again to the size of what the finished bread would look like.
Tip: Warm up the loaf pan to about 90-100 °F. That will assure the dough rises quickly. You can give the bread a nice design by slashing it with a very sharp knife. Do this by holding your knife 45 degrees to the table and slicing the dough a 1/4 inch deep. I like to sprinkle some flour on top of the bread which gives it a rustic feel. When placing the multi-grain bread into the oven, be quick and don’t drop the loaf pans onto the oven shelf. You don’t want the dough to lose its nicely risen shape. Last but not least, add some steam to the oven. You can do this by pouring some water onto an empty tray below the bread, which has been placed there before the oven was heated up. The steam will assure that the bread will rise a little more and the crust will get brown and crispy.
Preheat oven to about 400°F. Place loaf pans in the center shelf and bake for about 30-35 minutes. One way to find out if the bread is finished is by knocking on the bread, if it sounds hollow, like someone knocks on a door the bread is ready. Remove the bread from the loaf pans immediately in such a way that it can breathe from all sides so it doesn’t sweat. After 30-40 minutes you may start eating your bread. Try the bread with a good cheese and a cup of coffee for breakfast. This bread only stays fresh for about two days, so keep all other loaves in the freezer. Enjoy!