100% Whole Grain Bread (recipe, photos, info)
As many of you know, I like bread. A lot. I enjoy making it, but more importantly I enjoy eating it...and I do not believe it makes you fat. I could easily be a poster boy for the high-carb diet...I eat bread, pasta, or rice at nearly every meal and am well within my proper body weight. The key, I believe, is whole grains...they are really good for you. I also believe that everyone should make their own bread (at least sometimes)...not only will it nourish your body, but also your emotions; there is something very primal about having your hands in raw dough and transforming ingredients so basic into something so complex. It is, in short, an alchemistic art-form. And breads you purchase--even though they may say "whole grain"--have a lot of other things in it besides the grain. Take a look at this label for "whole grain bread"...a paragraph long list of mostly unpronounceable ingredients is unnecessary. In truth, to make a really good and wholesome loaf of whole wheat bread you need only these four ingredients. In the recipe pictured here--bedsides the seven-grain mix--I count eight other ingredients...all recognizable and pronounceable. If you don't have a seven grain mix you can use whatever grain you have (brown rice works great). This is made in the same way that I make Ezekiel Bread, only it's easier because you can boil the grain all at once (click here or here for Ezekiel Bread recipes). Anyhow, this recipe is way easier to make than it may seem at first look. I hope you try it...both your body and soul will be glad you did. If you'd like to read more about how to bake with whole wheat--it's similarities and differences with white flour--follow this link.
Whole Grain Bread
Makes 2 loaves
1 cup (6.6oz/187g) 7-grain mix
3 quarts (96floz/2.83L) water
fully cooked grains
2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) cooking liquid
2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast
4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vital wheat gluten
1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) honey
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) olive oil
3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) instant yeast
3 teaspoons (.5oz/14.1g) kosher salt
Combine the grain and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the rice for about 45 minutes or until very soft. As the grain cooks add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe. After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. Then drain it, squeezing it with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained 7-grains with 2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) of the cooking liquid, 2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour, and 2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast. Stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vital wheat gluten, and 1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid; stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it's job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.
After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains. Preheat an oven to 450f (232.2C). Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Is your seven grain mix homemade? What's in it? Or do you purchase the bulk version at the co-op? Also, any recommendations for covering the bread if you don't use saran wrap?