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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Multigrain bread

If you are , like me, the owner of at least 10 different grains in the pantry ( and don’t know what to do with them ), this bread is one  good way to 'consolidate'   the grainy odds and ends and make something impressive with it.

First of all, prepare the homemade multigrain mix. I opt for equal portions of grains. You pretty much dump whatever is considered healthful into the mix. It's artisan bread, after all, and the outcome is all up to your interpretation. Set aside 56g of the multigrain mix. Freeze the rest for a cookie or smoothie project the next day.

I personally try not to buy pre-packed multigrain mix, since some seeds go rancid very fast once milled. If you own a coffee grinder or such, you can just about grind any whole grains and seeds to the size you prefer.

I included a process called " autolyse" , which is the fancy name for adding salt  last, after the dough is kneaded for at least 15 minutes.  This prevents the salt , which is hydroscopic, from competing for moisture with the flours. As such, autolyse allows for  better gluten formation in the early stage of kneading. Its late entry also allows the yeast to kick start its work quickly, without the salt's interference. All these trouble translates to better hydration , greater elasticity and better volume for the final product.

A final note : being a rather muddle headed person as I always am, I discovered to my horror that I ran out of rye flour. Dire situation demands optimism and throwing caution into the wind, so I substituted rye flour with plain flour ( Tsk! Tsk ! ). Fermentation is actually improved , a pity about the rye flavor though the nutty seeds contributed to its robustness. Still, for an experiment , it is one pretty decent loaf.

Tip : Wonder how to get rid of the sticky bits of dough that clings on almost everything ? Instead of 'washing down ' with water and risk clogging your plumbing, let the dough bits dry a little and scrap off with a pastry cutter, before discarding it in the bin.

Makes one loaf.

Ingredients :

Multigrain mix : 
Equal portions of  ( 1 Tablespoons )   -
Quick cooking oats
Brown rice powder
Sunflower seeds
Oat bran
Whole rolled oats
Ground flax seed
Broken wheat
Pearl barley , crushed or milled

Grain soaker :
56 g multigrain mix
149g lukewarm water
43g whole flax seeds
21g sunflower seeds

Final dough :

269g grain soaker
113g Sourdough starter
90g water
2g malt syrup or honey
153g bread flour
97g rye flour 
3g instant yeast
5g fine salt ( I used ground up sea flakes )

2 cups untoasted sesame seeds - for coating

Added logistics :
Mixer with dough hook or bread machine , Water mister, bread box or pullman w/o cover, sharp razor, clean towel

The previous night :
Bring the sourdough starter out of the fridge. Bring 113 g starter  to room temperature, in a covered bowl, overnight.
Make the multigrain soaker.  Soak the multigrain,seeds and water overnight, in a covered bowl.

The next day :
Your starter should have turned bubbly, as it warmed up overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flours and yeast. Set aside.
Add starter,  soaker, water, malt and mix , 10 minutes.
Add flour-yeast and mix well. Knead for  15 minutes.
Add salt to the dough. Knead for another 5 minutes.

The first rise :
Let dough rise, covered in an oiled bowl. 40 minutes . Dough is ready for the next stage when it springs back halfway when lightly touched.

Prepare a water mister, a bread box, towel and some sesame seeds.

Notice that I did not 'punch down', fold or knead the dough after the first fermentation. Redundant movement of the multigrain cuts the gluten , so this step is omitted , for better texture of the final product.

Transfer to a lightly floured worktop.

Shape it to  an oblong.

Mist the dough. Coat it with sesame seeds.

Transfer dough to floured towel and lift it into the box. The confines helps shape the loaf as it rises.

Pull the ends of the towel over the dough. Let the dough ferment , 40 minutes. It is ready when it springs halfway back when lightly touched.

Baking the loaf :

Place a rack and 3 cups of water in the oven. Preheat oven to the highest setting possible. I preheat to 250 C. The high temperature encourages oven spring.

Meanwhile, transfer the risen dough to a baking tray or peel.

Mist spray the dough. Rest 5 minutes.

With a sharp razor, score deeply, at 45 degrees to the dough.

Spray water again. Transfer dough , with tray or peel, into the oven.

Bake at 230C, 15 minutes.

Remove water.

Bake for another 15-17 minutes. Loaf is ready when the crust is dark and it doesn’t yield when pressed.

The bread is still gelatinous when hot. Cool bread thoroughly before consuming.

Adapted from  "Artisan Breads At Home with the Culinary Institute of America " by Eric Kastel.

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