Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Give Us This Day...Again

My love of homemade bread is no secret. I've been through Dan Lepard's genius book of artisan loaves, I've messed around with Michael Ruhlman's ratio, and I've occasionally even dipped into Deborah Madison's bread chapters for inspiration. I feel pretty happy with my repertoire at this point...a bread for every mood if you will.

So when my mother claimed that she had the end all be all recipe that I simply had to try, I was skeptical. And I was even more skeptical when she told me that the origin of the recipe was a book she had picked up on a bargain table in some big box retail store, the name of which she could not recall.

Therefore when the recipe arrived in the mail (yes, the actual mail, envelope, stamp the whole be fair my parents' scanner was broken...they are not normally quite so traditional) it sat around on a tabletop for many weeks before I formed the loaves. Which as it turns out, was my loss.

The bread is dense and chewy in the most satisfying way possible and ever so slightly sweet. Do not be fooled by the very Berkley-esque list of ingredients, the bread is the farthest thing from one of those "healthy obligations" that seems to hang over your head the longer it stays in your kitchen (yes, CSA box, I'm looking at you). And do not be intimidated by the ingredient list either. I have no idea what malted wheat flakes are. I found something flakey in my refrigerator that looked like it could be wheat retrospect I think it could have been wheat bran, but frankly I couldn't tell the difference. Throw whatever grainy/flakey/wheaty items you've got and I can virtually guarantee a phenomenal outcome.

Anthony's Grain Bread
My mother's adaption of the recipe from Linda Collister and Anthony Blake's Country Bread

Makes 3 loaves

To start:
1 cup (100g) malted wheat flakes (or whatever approximation you can find)
5 tablespoons (50g) chopped rye berries (I didn't chop them, and actually may have accidentally used kamut instead of rye now that I think about it)
1/2 cup (50g) cracked wheat
1/4 cup (50g) steel-cut oats, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (40g) rye berries
1 tablespoon (10g) pearl barley
4-5 tablespoons molasses, depending on your taste
4 cups boiling water

To finish:
2 cups (200g) dark rye flour
1 3/4 cups (200g) coarse whole-wheat flour, preferably stoneground
4 cups (500g) unbleached white bread flour
3 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 0.6-oz cakes fresh yeast (50g), or three envelopes of dry yeast
2/3 cup (150ml) lukewarm water
2/3 cup (150ml) stout, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sunflower or light olive oil

3 loaf pans, well greased

Start by combining the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Add the molasses to the measured boiling water and stir until dispersed, then add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 24 hours.

The next day, the soaked mixture should resemble coarse, sloppy porridge. Add the rye, whole-wheat, and white flours and the salt. Crumble the yeast into the luke-warm water and stir until dispersed, then add the stout. Pour the liquid into the grain and flour mixture, and mix thoroughly to make a firm but not stiff dough. Add a little more water if necessary, or, if the dough feels very sticky, work in a little extra white flour.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes (dust your hands and the work surface with flour only if the dough is sticky). Shape the dough into a ball. Put the oil into a clean, large bowl, add the ball of dough, and flip it over so it is coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until doubled in size--about 2 hours, but add more time in cold weather, less in hot.

Punch down the risen dough and divide it into three equal portions. Shape each into an oblong to fit the pans, then put the dough neatly into the pans. Cover and leave as before until doubled in size--allow 1 1/2 hours.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Uncover the loaves and dust with a little rye or whole-wheat flour. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when unmolded and tapped underneath. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

The bread is best if left for a day before slicing, and will keep for 5 days, or can be toasted. Once thoroughly cooled, it can be frozen for up to a month.


Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Lovely sounding bread, Laura. As with all breads, though, too many steps and processes for my liking--guess I'm just not cut out to be a baker. Happily, there are plenty of people who love it and whose efforts I can purchase in stores.

Regarding your parents using actual mail, as much as I love how the Intertubes have changed communication, there are undeniable pleasures in old-fashioned mail. The whole set of steps you set in motion when you drop a letter or postcard in the mailbox, the anticipation of its arrival and the experience of receiving an actual physical object someone has sent you. With all of its immediacy, email still can't deliver that.

Laura in Paris said...

Oh, home made bread, how fabulous. I have not baked bread in a long long time .. of course, I live in Paris and have seven excellent bakeries within walking distance from my home. Your bread loaf could be displayed in any of them!

Lucinda said...

You have gone and made me give you an award damn you! Check my blog, xo!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Oh Boy. My favorite subject. Bread baking. As you may know, I was on the Bread Bakers Apprentice bread bakers challenge with Nicole from Pinch My Salt. To be honest, I made the "seed culture" twice. It takes 4 days to "brew"...and when it came time to was 100 degrees out here in California.Might have jumped the gun..hoping for fall..when it was still really summer...
I'll get back on it...

The stuffing was just a way to use up some day old french bread around here..I let it get really dry for a couple of days..then just used up what was around the house...(didn't want to go to the grocery store..lazy day) celery, onion, and a whole bunch of flat leaf italian parsley...chicken stock and the Bell's seasoning..super simple...and super good !


red ticking said...

fabulous. i will run over for a slice... x pam

Laura [What I Like] said...

Terry - I know, I love getting actual mail. Nowadays it is just about the most special thing to receive!

Laura in Paris - Yes, I suspect that if I lived with seven good bakeries I wouldn't bother either!

Lucinda - You are so kind!

My Farmhouse Kitchen - Ah yes, I've been stuck with bread fixings in hot weather as well...I usually sweat it out while the bread is baking and then wonder why on earth I would do such a thing!

red ticking - Just checked out your blog, I adore it!

Rob M. said...

Halfway through Peter Reinhart's Breadmakers Apprentice. Yet to produce a loaf though (sidetracked by work). Given how many people I've told about my breadmaking quest, it will need to be awesome (like your bread, although I prefer the look of the earlier sourdough loaf).

Laura [What I Like] said...

Rob - How are you halfway through a bread book without making a loaf?

Rob M. said...

I've decided to first intensively study the art of breadmaking to ensure my future loaf will break new ground in awesomeness. 'Le Pain Robert' will launch my long-time dream of becoming an artisan baker.

That said, we have no flour - which has delayed the breadmaking. I keep forgetting to add it to the shopping list.

Angie Muresan said...

I'm salivating reading this... And I've already had dinner with bread! Most certainly have to try this recipe out. By the way, you have been cooking a whole lot lately.

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