A good hearty bread is a wonderful thing. There are days, especially cold winter days like today, when I could happily eat toast with jam all day long and not be unsatisfied. In my opinion really good whole grain breads have a lot going on in them, and are versatile to suit your needs.
This recipe is one that I came about through trying to pin down what it was I really love in a whole grain recipe. I had been searching for a good bread to use as the base for open face sandwiches, which I eat for my lunches frequently. These sandwiches can be minimalist sometimes, as I don’t normally have a lot of time for lunch at work. This meant that the bread needed to be filling and nutritious.
It’s not overly complex, though it does take some waiting time. This was also important, as I didn’t want to be spending too much of my food prep day up to my elbows in dough, and this would be our weekly bread. (As opposed to any fun, special occasion breads I might make)
To start off with, you make a pre-ferment. This isn’t a complex sourdough starter or anything like that. It simply lets some of your yeast get started and gives a deeper richer flavour. Also, It isn’t 100% necessary if you don’t have time. In a pinch, the pre-ferment ingredients and the rest of the ingredients can be added all at once, no harm done. Bread People, Don’t freak out. You know it’s true.
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
After the pre-ferment is made, you cover it and walk away for about 8-10 hours. Meaning you can start it in about 20 seconds when you get home from work on Friday, go to sleep, then wake up and add the rest of the ingredients.
The ingredients are very versatile in this recipe, which is another reason I like it so much. Don’t have multiple types of flour? No problem, just use white flour. Don’t have all the seeds and grains I list below? It’s all good, throw in what you have! No access to whey? Water is perfectly good here. The recipe I’m giving you is mine favourite, that I developed for our household, you should make it fit to your needs.
The seed/grain mixture I use most often is:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
Mix it Up!
Once your ferment has sat for is long night, a couple ingredients need to rehydrate separately for about 5 minutes. (Oats in warm whey, yeast and honey in more warm whey)
Then everything goes into your mixer and kneads for a good 7-10 minutes.
Once the dough is smooth, elastic, sticking to the bottom of the bowl and pulling away from the sides; remove the dough hook, cover the bowl again, and let it hang out for another 2 hours.
This bread can be baked on a baking stone, or sheet pan, but my favourite method is inside my dutch oven. This allows it to steam during its initial rise, and once I remove the lid it get a beautiful crunchy crust.
Whole grain Bread
- 1 cup Flour Whole wheat, Bread, or All Purpose
- 1/2 cup Whey, warmed to body temperature Substitute water if whey isn't available
- 1 1/2 tsp Dry Active Yeast
- 1 cup Quick Oats
- 2 cups +3Tbsps Whey, warmed Divided (Substitute water if whey isn't available)
- 3 Tbsp Flax meal
- 1 Tbsp Dry Active Yeast
- 3 Tbsp Honey or Maple syrup
- 2 3/4 cups Flour This can be all one kind or a mixture of your favourites. I like to use 1 3/4cups Bread flour, and 1cup Whole Duram Wheat
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Mixed Grains and Seeds (Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, quinoa, amaranth, flax etc.)
- Approx. 12 hours before you're ready to bake the bread, mix the pre-ferment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the pre-ferment ingredients. Cover and allow to sit for 8-10 hours.
- In a measuring cup, measure out and warm 1 1/2cups of Whey. Add the oats and flax meal to the whey and stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to rehydrate.
- In another measuring cup, add the remaining whey (which should be roughly 2/3cup) warmed. Stir in the yeast and honey. Allow to sit until the yeast starts to bubble. About 5 minutes.
- Uncover your pre-ferment. Add the 2 3/4cups of flour, salt, oat mixture and yeast mixture into the bowl. Attach a dough hook and slowly mix for about 30 seconds to avoid flour spraying everywhere.
- Then increase the mixer speed slightly until a ragged, not fully mixed dough forms. Add in the mixed seeds/grains and allow to mix in slightly.
- Increase the mixer speed one or two more notches (on my Kitchen Aid the speed I set it to is 4.5) and Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. This normally takes about 8-10 minutes. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and allow to rise for about 2 hours, or until at least doubled in size.
- Before the rising time is done, Heat your oven to 425F, and place your dutch oven inside to warm up. Once the oven is hot and the dough has risen, tip the dough out of its bowl onto a floured counter and shape it into a nice ball.
- Sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom of the dutch oven, and carefully transfer your dough into it. Replace the lid, and put it back into the oven. Bake with the lid on for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 25 minutes more or until the loaf is crusty, deep golden and sounds hollow when you tap a finger on the bottom. Your house will also smell delicious!
- Once done, remove from the dutch oven and allow to cool on a rack before slicing. This loaf freezes well, so if you aren't a huge bread fiend I suggest letting it cool, slicing it completely and putting the sliced loaf into a bag in the freezer. That way you can take out one slice at a time for toasting.
Your finished bread will have a slightly more closed crumb then the standard sourdoughs or rustic loaves making it great for sandwiches. It’s rich, nutty, filling and hearty. Let me know if you try this recipe out with different ingredients!