Hearty Harvest Bread

By • October 30, 2011 63 Comments

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Author Notes: There are few grains and seeds that didn't ultimately find their way into this bread. Each batch yielded better and better results, so we kept going until we were finally happy with everything about it: its protein and fiber contents, its size and appearance, and its taste. Toast it and top it with some goat cheese, a poached egg, a generous drizzle of olive oil and some snips of fresh chives. Call it breakfast; call it dinner; call it good.boulangere

Makes 2 generous loaves

  • 1 cup toasted 7-grain cereal
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 4 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sea or kosher salt
  • 11 ounces warm tap water
  • 11 ounces milk warmed in the microwave
  • 1 glug honey, a good tablespoon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces soft butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Measure onto it the 7-grain cereal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and wheat germ. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool while you assemble the rest of your ingredients.
  2. To the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the bread flour, whole wheat flour, flax seed meal, salt, instant yeast, and all the toasted grains and seeds. Swish the dough hook through the ingredients to disperse the yeast.
  3. Next, add the water, the milk, honey, eggs, and butter.
  4. Mix with the hook just until all ingredients are well blended. Turn off mixer, cover bowl with plastic, and allow to autolyse for 20 minutes. The autolyse is a rest period which permits all the large particles in the various ingredients to be come fully hydrated. The gluten strands also take up more water and form a windowpane more quickly than they would if continuously kneaded.
  5. After the autolyse, turn on the mixer and let bread knead for a five minutes. It should come together and leave the sides and bottom of the bowl and look noticeably different from the first mixing. If it doesn’t, add some bread flour by tablespoons until it does. Stop mixer and test for a windowpane by pulling off a walnut-size piece of dough, and gently stretch it over your fingertips. You want to get the center as thin as possible without it tearing. This tells you if you've adequately developed the gluten, and you bread should for a perfect, beautiful dome when you bake it. If at first it doesn't windowpane, continue kneading in 2-minute increments until it does reach a good, strong windowpane.
  6. Stop mixer, remove hook, and turn the dough out for a moment. Oil the inside of the bowl and return the dough to it, turning the dough over once. Cover bowl with a piece of plastic. Allow to proof until doubled, an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment or pan-spray 2 bread pans. Turn dough out onto your work surface. Divide it in half. Shape it as hearth loaves, or to bake in conventional bread pans. Dust the tops of the loaves with bread flour, drape with your piece of plastic, and allow to proof until doubled, about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. My kitchen faces south, so In the fall and winter, when the sun is lower on the horizon, I have sun all day long. Bread tends to move along more quickly.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Just before placing your loaves in the oven, slash them 3 or 4 times with a serrated knife, a good 1/2" deep. A note on the bake time. In the Comments, you'll see that lapadia and drbabs experienced shorter bake times. I'm known to refer to my oven as Barbie and Ken's oven, in which I baked this for 50 minutes, rotating loaves halfway through the bake time. Bread is done when it reaches an internal temp of 185. It's a good idea to get a temp on it at 30-35 minutes and add time accordingly. Clearly I need to join the 21st century of ovens.
  9. Remove it from the oven and immediately turn it out of bread pans if you've used them. Cool on a rack until you can handle the loaves comfortably. At that point, cut a slice and admire your good work.

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