Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bread & Butter

My memories of my parents' kitchen are largely centered around two things: Family dinnertime, and baking bread with my mom. My mom took a couple of years off of teaching when my sister and I were kids, and we had a lot of happy days at home. One of our main - and I must say, dearest favorite - activities was baking bread. Really, it was an opportunity for us as kids to make a huge mess, get to eat raw bread dough (something I am still known for, in my family) and get to eat something warm and delicious when it was all over.

The first time that I baked a loaf of bread on my own, I felt like the guy that discovered fire: Proud, powerful, and a little bit afraid of what this new-found power may have on the rest of my life. I think it is such a cool and empowering feeling to bake something as basic as a dense, hearty bread. Cool in cavemanish way, I guess. If cavemen can be cool.

My mom was (and is - and I hope she is reading!) amazing. I can picture her throwing ingredients together and kneading bread with a cheerful abandon. So after a long break from regular baking - a break filled with the bulk of her busy career, taking care of everyone else, and lets not forget, the dreaded teenage years - I was thrilled that about a year and a half ago, she made it her mission to invent and craft a delicious, simple, and healthful multi-grain bread recipe. She is not one of those crazy recipe-hoarding non-sharers (what is the deal with that, anyway?) so I feel perfectly justified in sharing what I will call Mom's Multigrain Bread:

Note: This recipe is for a LARGE loaf. I almost never bake the full size. Halve everything (which I've done below) for a reasonably sized loaf. Also, this recipe requires a covered baking container made of terra cotta (like hers) or cast iron (like mine). My dutch oven is a hefty 5 qts but this dough is very thick, and if you mold it into a loaf with your hands, it will keep its shape.

2.5 (1.25) c. wheat flour
3.5 (1.75) c. white
1 (.5) c. flax seed (scant)
1 (.5) c. bulgur (cracked) wheat (scant)
1 (.5) Tablespoon salt
2 scant (1 scant) Tablespoons yeast  (2 packages)
4 (2) c. H20

Dissolve 2 packages yeast in ½ cup water (for half batch, 1 packet in ¼ cup)

Mix, cover tightly.  Let 12 hours elapse.

Preheat oven to 500 (or more) with dutch oven or ceramic bake container in the oven.
Bake about 30 min for single loaf/loaves, 60 for one large loaf.

You can also pop it out of the container(s) and compete baking right on the oven shelf.

If you don't believe me that this is a recipe for a huge loaf...
                            ...Sorry for the crummy quality, this picture was taken with Photobooth.

This is a great recipe. Like, really great. But since I am inclined to tinker with just about anything I can get my hands on, I've tried a couple of adaptations.
Want to use ALL whole wheat flour, no white? Go ahead - just double the yeast.

I've made oatmeal breads in the past, and they have been great, but I have never attempted to introduce oats to Mom's Multigrain Bread. It is my hope to cut out a cup of flour, replacing it with 3/4 of a cup of rolled oats, and use only whole-wheat flour for the rest of it. That is, 3/4 cup of oats (which will expand), and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. For more on this experiment, tune in tomorrow! I'll be mixing it early and baking it late.


  1. I have been DYING to try a Boston brown bread. As soon as I have time.

    But this one sounds yummy!

  2. Hi, this is your sister. I'm impressed by you and your portion control (and also your blog, duh). SOMEONE in my apartment always eats half the loaf as soon as it is baked so we have to make the full-sized recipe.