Recipe rave: Amber waves of grain bread

I made two loaves of this bread less than a week ago. This is all that's left. Uh oh!

I made two loaves of this bread less than a week ago. This is all that’s left. Uh oh!

I bake almost all of our bread so I’m always on the lookout for a good new bread recipe. For our purposes bread needs to be tasty (Because otherwise why bother?) but it also needs to hold up to being the exoskeleton of a sandwich. Crumbly or too-squishy breads (like soda bread or Sally Lunn) don’t get made as often because they won’t get eaten before they go bad (since they usually get served alongside dinner). But that’s why we have a freezer, right? Most baked goods freeze well, thank goodness.

What follows is one of my very favorite bread recipes. It sheds a little, but it nonetheless makes a great sandwich. It’s also dynamite toasted – and it’s so sweet that I can eat slice after slice without any topping. (A few days ago I ate half a loaf of this stuff over the course of an afternoon without employing the toaster or butter or jam. I’m not sure I regret it, either.) It’s packed with grains, which makes it a natural side for the hearty soups and stews we’ve been having lately, but the grains are so finely ground that the crumb is light and chewy – never crunchy.

I found this recipe in an excellent cookbook called Prairie Home Breads by Judith M. Fertig, and I’m quite grateful to the publisher, The Harvard Common Press, for allowing me to reprint it in full.

Amber Waves of Grain Bread

Makes 2 loaves.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups (uncooked) stone-ground seven-grain hot cereal (including cracked wheat, flaxseed, oats, and other cracked grains)
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup wildflower or other pale amber honey
2 tablespoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm (110 degrees) water
About 4 cups bread flour

Directions:

  1. Put the cereal into a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over it, and set aside to soften for 15 minutes
    In the bowl of an electric mixer or another large bowl, stir together the honey, yeast, salt, and warm water with a wooden spoon. Using the paddle attachment or the spoon, beat in 3 cups of the bread flour, then beat in the softened grains, with their liquid, until you have a moist, soft, heavy dough.
  2. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, adding about 1 cup more flour, until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky. Or turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Grease two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans or a large baking sheet and set aside. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half Shape each portion into a regular or round loaf and put in the prepared loaf pans or on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, or until the loaves are a rich brown on top and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom; an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should register 190 to 200 degrees. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe © 2013 by Judith M. Fertig and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press

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Here’s one of the last slices as part of my lunch today with another favorite recipe, Cooking Light’s Roasted Cauliflower Soup. Cheap, delicious, and it freezes well.

— Amanda

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One thought on “Recipe rave: Amber waves of grain bread

  1. Pingback: Recipe roundup | SterlingFink

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