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  • Writer's picturemealswiththets

Never-Fail Wholegrain Bread

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Bread is a staple in our household. In fact, we go through a loaf of bread within 3 days, so I make bread about twice a week. Our preference is a wholegrain loaf as it has more texture and aroma than white bread. It toasts up beautifully (as long as you don't over-toast it, otherwise it ends up hard) and tastes different to when it's untoasted as the grains on each side of the slice gets roasted. In fact, I personally find that it tastes better after the first day unlike most bread which is best after it's freshly baked. So for those of you who cannot finish a loaf of bread within a day, this is a good option! Also, it is nutritious and keeps us full for longer compared to white bread! My favorite way to eat it is to smear it with a layer of jam (St. Dalfour is my favorite) and home-made peanut butter for a filling and satisfying snack.

This recipe is highly customizable and can be changed to suit your preference. And the best part is, it will not fail even if you swap any of the ingredients because of choice or if you do not have it at hand.


Grains. I used to make up the grain mixture each time I made a loaf, but have since made it up in bulk to save time and to strive for consistency across batches. Although the recipe calls for 1/2 cups of grains, I have made it with varying amounts of grains, from 1/2, 2/3 and 1 cup of grains with beautiful loaves each time. Note however that you do get a heavier loaf with increasing amounts of grain. If you are customizing your mix, as a rough estimate, 14 tablespoons will give you about 2/3 cups of grain, so for example, if you use 7 different grains, you will need about 2 tablespoons each. I have tried a mixture of oats, freekeh, pearl barley, triticale and oat bran (fibrous outer layer of the oat grout), and have recently added in spelt and buckwheat for more variety. Different grain mixtures will give your bread different taste and characteristics.


Although oats, pearl barley and oat bran are relatively common, the other grains may be less known. Freekeh and spelt are different varieties of wheat and are considered 'ancient grains'. The main difference between 'ancient grains' and the 'modern wheat' is that ancient grains have never gone through any hybridization or genetic modification and are grown just as they were thousands of years ago. Triticale is a hybrid between wheat and rye. It has a similar shape to oats, but is darker in color, harder in texture, and is tougher to chew when eaten in granola or muesli. However, once baked in the bread, it softens up and you won't be able to tell the difference between oats and triticale! Buckwheat on the other hand, is not a grain but rather a pseudo-grain, and is in fact a seed from the Fagopyrum esculentum and Fagopyrum tartaricum plants. It is slightly bitter and can result in some bitterness in your bread. I have not experimented with other grains yet, but will update as I try them out!

Our handmixed multigrain mix

Flour. You can try the recipe with all-purpose flour, or substitute half with wholemeal flour. I have tried both with good results, and personally prefer using half all-purpose and half-wholemeal. You get a lighter loaf with the all-purpose option.


Sugar. I have tried different sugars, including brown sugar and malt extract. We like the malty and more complex aroma the malt extract imparts to the bread compared to the brown sugar. Anything sweet will work as it is added mainly for taste, so don't worry if you do not have either, and can use just white or raw sugar, honey, golden syrup, maple syrup, etc.


Dried instant yeast or fresh yeast. I have also tried the recipe with dried instant yeast and fresh yeast. Once again, the loaves rise up beautifully with either, but we prefer the smell of the loaves made with fresh yeast which smell sweeter.



Water. In general, having a lower water to flour ratio will give a denser loaf. In the photo shown on the left, I have used 520 mL of hot water for the grains. However, if you prefer a less dense loaf, you can add 50 mL more (photo on the right). Bear in mind that the loaf will rise more, so do accommodate for the extra volume by using a larger loaf tin than the one recommended here. In this loaf, I had to keep switching to bigger tins as it kept expanding outside the smaller tins, and eventually when it was baked, the bread collapsed a bit in the middle. The dough was possibly over-handled during the rise or over-proofed as I waited for it to fill the bigger tin.


I guess the beauty of baking bread frequently is that it has given me the opportunity to try different combinations. I have made this recipe at least 10 times so far (and counting), and it has not failed me once!


A word on the final presentation. When we first started out, we were getting bread slices of varying thicknesses by cutting using a blunt knife. We have since invested in a basic bread cutting guide and a bread knife, and that has made a massive difference to our home-made bread experience! Now our bread slices are uniformly sliced and look just that bit more professional!


Never-Fail Multigrain Bread


Ingredients

  • 520 mL of boiling water (Add 50 mL more for a fluffier, less dense loaf)

  • 1/2 cup of grain mixture (can go up to 1 cup. See above)

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose and half wholemeal flour. See above)

  • 21 g of fresh yeast or 2 1/4 tsp of dried instant yeast

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (I use Himalayan pink salt)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I use canola oil)

  • 1 tbsp of malt extract or brown sugar (see above for substitutes)


Method

  • Add 2 cups of boiling water to the grain mixture and let it sit until it cools down* (about half an hour at 19 °C ambient temperature).

  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on a stand mixer with a dough hook or knead by hand until the entire dough comes together as one piece and does not leave any residue in the bowl.

  • Cover the bowl with a warm moist towel until double in size.

  • Shape into a log and put into a well-greased loaf tin. I use a 20 X 10 X 7.5 cm bar cake tin. Cover tin with a warm moist towel again until well-risen. Note that the loaf has to be risen entirely before putting it in the oven. Do not count on it rising any further during baking! How it looks going into the oven will be exactly how it comes out baked; just browner!

  • Bake at 190 °C until the top is brown and the sides have shrunken away from the edges of the tin. It should sound hollow when tapped. This should take between 30-45 min. I do not usually keep an eye on the time, but check on it till it's done, starting first when the aroma of baked bread fills our kitchen.


* The mixture should be less than 60 °C. Anything above will kill the yeast. A lower temperature is safer and will just result in a longer rise time.

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