Monday, March 22, 2010

Bake The Book: Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread

Has anyone else noticed that the weather has been beautiful during the week when we're all stuck inside working....and then the weekend rolls around and crappy, cold, dreariness sets in? I'm so sick of it, I'm revolting and going to Florida this weekend! Well, I'm going to Florida anyway, but it was a pre-planned trip so I guess I can't claim revolt. The Cardinals better pull out a win or two for us.

Even though crappy weather is in fact, crappy, it does lead to some good baking opportunities. And while I didn't bake this wheat bread this past weekend (more on the maple pecan rolls later, folks), lets talk about it anyway, shall we?

First of all, get your yeast fermenting while you cook up the cereal. It will start to foam and look activated like this when it's ready.


Let me also mention, that my whole wheat bread was actually ten grain, as that was the cereal mix I found at Whole Foods. I know, overachiever, right? Add the cereal, flour, salt, whole wheat flour and a dab of honey to your yeast mixture.


Knead, let rise as usual, yada yada, until you can form beautifully rounded loaves, as below. Then let those rise again until, as the book says, they look like they've taken a deep breath. What?! Yeah, I don't really get the similarity either. Anyway, when they've breathed deeply, cut some designs into the top of each loaf (we're making two!) and pop them in the oven.


The loaves will come out looking like browned godesses. Aren't they pretty?


And the best part? They taste good too. There's nothing like some good ol' homemade bread, if I do say so myself. We could taste the hint of sweetness from the honey and I loved the grainy taste of the cereal mix that was added. Makes for some great sammies or paninis!

Recipe #6: Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread

1/2 cup 9-grain hot cereal mix (not instant)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup warm water plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 3/4 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt

1. Make the cereal mix: Pour the cereal into a medium bowl. Add the boiling water and stir to blend. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight (bring the mixture to room temperature before continuing).

2. Make the dough: Pour the warm water into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the sugar and yeast and whisk by hand to blend. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. Add the cooled cereal, honey, bread four, whole wheat flour, and salt. Knead the dough on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Turn the mixer to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is firm and elastic, 4 to 7 minutes.

3. Lightly oil a bowl, scrape the dough into the bowl and lightly cost the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 35 to 45 minutes.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don't knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape. Shape into a round, taut loaf and transfer the loaf to the center of a parchment lined baking pan.

5. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

7. Dust the top lightly with flour--don't go crazy here or you'll have a mouthful of flour. Slash a pattern in the top of the dough with a chef's knife. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and the internal temperature registers 190 degrees. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Slice the bread with a serrated knife.

Source: The Art and Soul of Baking


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