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) cookingliquid
2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheatflour
2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instantyeast
4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheatflour
2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vitalwheat gluten
1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cookingliquid
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) honey
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) olive oil
3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) instantyeast
3 teaspoons (.5oz/14.1g) koshersalt
Combine the grain and water in a mediumpot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the ricefor about 45 minutes or until very soft. As the grain cooks add morewater to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which isfull of nutrients, will become part of the recipe. After the grainsare cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature,refrigerating if necessary. Then drain it, squeezing it with yourhands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
Place two bowlsside-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. Inone bowl combine the cooked and drained 7-grains with 2/3 cup (5.3oz/157ml) of the cooking liquid, 2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheatflour, and 2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast. Stir just untilcombined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vitalwheat gluten, and 1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid; stirjust until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not toget yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at roomtemperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment willbegin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and theautolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.
After an hour or so, combinethe ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixerfitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) of yeast (add the yeast and salt on oppositesides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover itloosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled inbulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30minutes. Turn the dough out onto afloured work surface and cut it into 2 pieces. Shape into loavesand place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves withplastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until doublein size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentationremains. Preheat an oven to 450f (232.2C). Bake the breads forabout 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (eitherwith ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every tenminutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and soundhollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allowthem to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.