I have a weakness. It’s something that makes going to grocery stores first thing in the morning tricky. It makes running through neighbourhoods with bakeries or stores tough. It has made me tell Ben that he never has to get me another bouquet of flowers, as long as he brings home this.
It’s freshly baked bread.
Oh my gosh. The smell of the yeast and flour warming in the oven. The delicious aroma of the crust being formed. The incredible feel of warm-out-of-the-oven bread. Watching butter (salted…because, you KNOW) melt into the bubbles of newly baked dough and then eating said melted-butter-covered bread? Oh. My. Gosh.
At the Mills house we’re pro-real food. Pro food that we have made from whole foods ourselves. Pro knowing what the heck is in what we are eating. Making our own bread just makes sense. Because if you have ever read the ingredients in your favourite loaf of bread, you may not know what half the stuff in it is. Or what it’s for. But this bread? This bread you’ll know. And that has to be the best part…beside the whole warm bread melted butter thing.
When we were searching for a recipe, we wanted it to be whole grain and have lots of grains – the seedier the better. In fact, I’m now on the hunt for a loaf made up entirely of seeds…like a soft cracker. When I track down one, I will totally share it here. Promise.
For now, we’ll take a peek at this loaf of bread that starts with oodles of seeds and ends in melted butter. Hallelujah.
The biggest issue with freshly baked bread at home is it takes planning. And time. You can’t rush it. You can’t zip past steps. You can’t force it to rise or fall or bake faster than it’s wont to do. You just can’t. It’s one of those things where time is required. And if you don’t make time or plan time, you’re going to be disappointed.
Now, there are breads out there that require very little babysitting. Like the No-Knead Bread, which we have made a bunch of times. It’s delicious. And perfect if you’re short on time but you want bread the next day. Even the ‘fast’ bread takes time.
This bread starts the night before and is worth every hour. Sometimes I ‘rush’ it, and set it up in the morning to bake it off later in the afternoon or evening. But that’s still not a ‘rush,’ is it?
In this world, you soak the seeds and oats, so that they are the most flavourful. I would guess dry-roasting them would also do something similar, but then you wouldn’t have little pockets of moisture, which every bread needs – who wants to eat dry bread?
You also recreate what professional bakeries do to ensure the most flavour possible – they take a bit of the dough from today’s batches to put in tomorrow’s batches, so that deep, yeasty flavour exists without having to let the dough sit and rise and get happy with itself for days, instead of hours. Since I (and probably you) don’t make bread every day (we’re crazy, but not that crazy, amirite?), you put together a bit of ‘fake’ dough to sit around for hours so that you’re incorporating that flavour in without the time and dough volume required. Sneaky, sneaky.
On top of having way more flavour than a loaf of mass-produced store bread, this bread contains no refined sugar. There are two tablespoons of honey in this recipe. That’s it. That’s the sweet. The rest of the flavour comes from the other ingredients, as it should be. No flavour-boosters or preservatives or additives to make it taste like bread. It tastes like bread because it is bread.
This recipe is also perfect for me because I have crappy carpal tunnel (thanks, pregnancies and babies! Your gifts just keep on giving.), so kneading a bunch of bread is not really ideal for me. My fingers go numb typing. Or driving. Or sitting the wrong way (I’m SUCH a gong show!!!). Kneading thick, tricky bread dough?? So not up my alley. This recipe lets me haul out my sexy KitchenAid Mixer and let the dough hook do all the work. Genius, non? I thought so.
And finally, this makes two good-size loaves. Which means we have bread for around a week…which is perfect. We find we eat less of this bread than we do of store-bough loaves. I think it has a lot to do with the density of the loaf – it’s LOADED with seeds and goodness, and fills you up so much faster and for longer. Unlike store-bread which is light and fluffy and you can eat a few pieces of it and not even feel sated. This bread eliminates that. Which saves money. And time. And the world. You’re welcome.
If you’re scared about attempting bread, just know this: every rise of the bread makes it more awesome…and all mistakes can be overcome in these steps. It’s a three-rise bread, so you have opportunity to let the yeast and the water and the honey and the salt and the seeds and the flour do their thing and get you back on track.
Seriously. Try this bread. It’s worth every hour of waiting. I promise.
Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread
Soaker (You can come up with your own combination of seeds. The more seeds, the more water you’ll need).
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup sesame seeds, raw
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup whole chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup large flake oats
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tsp salt
pinch of active dry yeast
Soaker (see above)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
Biga (see above)
olive oil (around 3 tbsp)
The night before, in a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Soaker. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. In another medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Biga. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.
The next day, add the Soaker, flours, warm water, salt, yeast into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attachment (if you don’t have one, you can totally do this by hand). Set aside.
Measure a tablespoon of olive oil in your tablespoon measure and pour into a large bowl. Grease the bowl with the oil. Set aside.
Take the oily tablespoon and measure your honey into the mixing bowl – it will just slide out (magic!). Using the dough hook attachment, mix until combined and the dough is pulling away from the sides. Add the Biga and mix again with the dough hook until the seedy dough and the Biga are combined. Dump the dough from the mixer bowl into your greased bowl, turning the dough until it is coated in oil. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in half several times, until the dough is smooth and elasticky (not sticky). Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).
Lightly oil 2- 9×5-inch loaf pans with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into 2 equal pieces. Taking the first piece, shape the dough into a 9×9-inch square. Fold the dough like a letter (into thirds), and tuck the ends under the dough. Place the dough, seam-side down, in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the second piece. Cover and let sit for at least an hour (or until the loaves have doubled in size), while preheating your oven to 425˚F. Uncover loaves and put in oven, side-by-side, baking for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on top. Let sit for 5 minutes in the loaf pans after pulling them out of the oven, then tip them onto baking racks to finish cooling. Feel free to ignore this last piece of advice and cut a loaf while still warm. Serve with butter or jam or eat a hunk naked. Bread will last for up to a week (cover to prevent drying out). ENJOY.
Adapted from Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread recipe on Spiced Blog