Friday, January 7, 2011

Crusty multigrain loaf

Dreary January day = must bake bread to lift my spirits.  I've become quite comfortable with just dumping ingredients in the bowl and seeing what happens.  I've also become more adventurous with cooking methods to get a particular finish.  This is a combination of my basic honey whole wheat, though I tinkered with adding some other grains in as well as some all purpose flour, and a rustic baking technique - high heat and a moist oven.  Right out of the oven, the crust is quite hearty and thumps nicely.  After standing for 30-40 minutes, the crust softened a bit to a wonderful consistency - a little chewy, but not difficult to chew, if that makes sense.  The interior is soft, lightly sweet and wonderful.  I will definitely make this again.

Crusty Multigrain Loaf

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 T. active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil.
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup dark rye flour
4 cups whole white wheat flour
3-4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast, honey and molasses in the warm water and let it stand for about 10 minutes.  Add in the oil, salt, cornmeal, dark rye flour and whole wheat flour and stir until well combined.  Let it stand for 10 minutes, until you see bubbles rising to the surface.  Stir in enough AP flour to form a stick dough glob, then dust generously with more AP flour and knead, adding small amounts of AP flour as needed, until it forms a smooth and elastic dough ball. 

Add a tablespoon or two of oil to your bowl and roll the dough ball around in it until well coated.  Cover with a towel and let rise in warm place until doubled, about an hour to an hour and a half.  Gently dump the dough out onto a work surface (I love my Roul' Pat!) and stretch it into a large square.  Fold it in thirds one direction, then the other direction, then place seam side down in the bowl again.  Let it rise again for another 45 minutes or so, until nearly doubled again.

Prepare your oven by placing one rack in the top slot and another rack in the bottom slot.  Place a small pan in the top filled with water.  (I use a cheap pie tin for this because the high heat warps a lot of pans).  Turn the oven on to 500 degrees.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces.  Form each into a boule, let rest for about 5 minutes until the dough relaxes a bit, then elongate the boule into an ovel shaped loaf.  Place the three loaves side by side on a large baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour.  Let rest for 30-40 minutes, until nearly doubled.  Slash each loaf in an artistic pattern with a sharp knife just before placing in the oven.

As you put the loaves into the oven, use a spray bottle to mist the walls, flour and roof of the oven, taking care to avoid the oven lights and door (sad experience with my old oven when the lightbulb exploded all over, leaving shards of glass in my lovely loaves).  Set the timer for 28 minutes.  After one minute, open the oven and mist everything like crazy again.  Now turn the oven temperature down to 450 degrees.

Check the loaves halfway through the bake time.  If they aren't browning evenly, spin the baking sheet around.  Otherwise, bask in the aroma of baking bread.  Once the time is up, remove the loaves promptly from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Allow them to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing in to them, tempting as it is to not wait.

1 comment:

Jana said...

I love a little bit of molasses in wheat bread.