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.