Sunday, October 18, 2009

BBA Challenge Week 20—Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire


I apologize in advance for the mostly lousy photos in this post. As you'll read, I had less than ideal conditions for this bread, #20 Multigrain Bread Extraordinare. It's too bad the photos won't do this bread justice—this one was fantastic.

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with 200+ other amateur bakers. Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

As with most of the breads in this book, Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire is a two-day affair. It's simple, though, because day 1 only consists of making a soaker from various grains in three groups. For the first, you choose from  coarse cornmeal, millet, quinoa or amaranth. For the second, rolled oats, buckwheat, or triticale flakes. The third is wheat bran but some BBA bakers used wheat germ with equal success. I went with corn meal, rolled oats and wheat bran, which is what you see in the above photo. To these grains is added a small amount of water, then you let it sit out overnight.

Here's why I made this bread under atypical circumstances. Normally I bake over the weekend so I can used daylight in my photos and have plenty of time for the various stages of bread making. Two weekends ago, when I'd planned on making this bread, I had to work all weekend, leaving no time for baking. I was already behind from the weekend before, when I had to work as well. I'd resigned myself to being a full two weeks behind.

The following Monday morning, I decided to buck my baking trend and finish this bread in one day, so I mixed up the soaker that morning intending to finish it after work. I figured 10+ hours at work was the equivalent of "overnight".

MGE ingredients

When I got home, I immediately went to work on the bread. First thing I had to do was cook some rice. This bread calls for three tablespoons of brown rice, so I used instant brown rice and cooked it in the microwave. Not ideal,  but it seemed to do the trick.

I was out of honey, so I used agave nectar instead. This bread also calls for brown sugar and buttermilk.


The dough was very wet, so I ended up adding quite a bit of extra flour to get it to come together. PR said it would smooth out and the ingredients would disappear "to an extent" but my dough was still rather coarse. No mind. It came together fine and was ready to ferment at room temp for about 90 minutes until doubled.

MGE-after ferment

I decided to do a free-form loaf because I was afraid the dough would be too much for the loaf pan.


I covered the loaf and popped it into my "proofing box" a.k.a. the microwave. I nuke a cup of water for a minute then leave that in for humidity and heat.

MGE-proofing box

Approximately 1 hour later, the bread looked like this:
It was ready to bake. I brushed the top with water and added some sesame and poppy seeds. It baked about 35-40 minutes and came out lovely and fragrant.

And big.

It didn't get much oven spring, but was still quite a large loaf of bread. It seriously smelled wonderful and was very difficult to leave alone. But by then, it was very much time to go to bed, so the bread would have to wait until the morning.

It was worth the wait! I loved the touch of sweetness from the brown sugar and agave nectar. The grains added a nice bit of crunch and the buttermilk made it soft and tender. It was just about perfect and needed nothing to taste great. I kept coming back for plain slices throughout the next couple of days. This is definitely worth making again and again.


  1. Wow! That last pictures makes me want to climb into my computer. Well done.

  2. Great job~ Love the idea of a free form loaf. Your crust and crumb look perfect!

  3. The free-form loaf looks great.:)

  4. Gorgeous crumb shot! I agree, this was a fantastic bread.

  5. I loved this bread too Kelly. Yours looks great and I like the idea of using the microwave as a proofing box! With the cold weather coming I'm going to have to try that too.

  6. Gorgeous color on the crumb. The bread is so good.

    Don't worry about being behind. With this post you are one bread ahead of me!


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