I’ve been fascinated with multigrain bread since I read Peter Reinhart’s Bread Upon the Waters, in which he analogizes the bread baking process to his spiritual journey, and carries that metaphor through the book using his recipe for struan. Whether it’s called grain and seed bread, multigrain bread, or struan, this is one of my favorite breads to bake and eat.
In fact, Peter’s Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire was one of my favorite recipes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and I went on to create my own sourdough grain and seed bread recipe. So it should come as no surprise that of the recipes in the Breads section of The Modern Baker, this is the one I was most excited to try.
Because this recipe has a lot of ingredients, I felt it was important to use mise en place. This was all the more true since I upped the ante by making this an 11 grain and seed bread. Nick suggests adding black sesame seeds and brown rice to the recipe, which I decided to do. And since I keep two-ounce packages of mixed red, brown, and black rice in the freezer for making struan, I ended up adding four additional ingredients.
I began by making a soaker with the oats and rice, which I mixed with boiling water.
While many recipes require an overnight soaker, Nick’s recipe calls for using the soaker as soon as it cools. Although he doesn’t say what temperature to cool it to, I figured I would bring it to around 110° F, the same temperature as the water called for in the recipe.
After the soaker had cooled, I measured the water. The recipe said to add the yeast to the water, but I accidentally put it into the soaker.
Oh, well. No harm done, since both the soaker and the water were added to the mixed flours.
The ingredients were mixed briefly, then allowed to autolyse for 20 minutes.
After four more minutes of mixing, I put the dough in an oiled bowl to ferment.
The dough doubled in just over an hour.
After the bulk ferment, I pressed the dough out into a rough rectangle, which I then divided into two pieces. As has been the case with most of the recipes in this section, this dough was quite slack, so shaping was a challenge. And it didn’t help that I found the shaping instructions in the book a bit confusing. The results of my first attempt (on the left) weren’t pretty. I caught on by the second loaf, which came out looking a little better.
I allowed the dough to proof for about an hour, by which time it had crested well above the tops of the pans.
I baked the loaves for about 30 minutes, until they were golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 185° F.
So, did these loaves live up to my expectations? In a word, yes. The crust and crumb were soft and chewy, the texture of a good sandwich bread. And the taste was amazing — complex, nutty, slightly sweet. It was great plain, with cultured butter, and as a base for sandwiches.
This is definitely my favorite bread in this section of the book (so far) and one that I will make again.