Have I mentioned my love for books? It’s true; I am an unrepentant bibliophile. If they didn’t take up so much room, cost money, and make me feel as though a quick escape would never be possible, I would line each and every wall with built-in bookshelves and fill them joyfully. I have a special fondness for used books. I like it when they appear (but don’t necessarily smell) old, when there’s some evidence (admittedly not TOO much) that they’ve been appreciated. If they are second hand cookbooks, I love it when they automatically open to a page every time. You know you’ve found a good recipe when the book is accustomed to being open to that specific page.
In my recent book swapping treasures, I’ve received this classic number, The Vegetarian Epicure. My edition dates from 1972, has a previous owner’s signature on the cover page, and bears an illustration on the cover of blissful plant-strong folks eating lovely veggies straight out of the ground. I couldn’t find the recipe for that, but this book DID open right to Mixed Grain Bread. Given our propensity for soup over here, I don’t imagine that you’ll be surprised that we have an even stronger leaning toward home baked bread. I should confess that I sometimes make soup just so that I have a good excuse to make and consume large quantities of warm homemade bread. Warm homemade bread also goes a long way in convincing the awesome twosome to give whatever soup I’m ladling up a decent try. There is always the bread dunking approach when one is truly reluctant you see. And so an auto open to Mixed Grain Bread is just a little too good to pass up for me.
I made a few changes to the recipe – to eliminate the moo for me, and to accommodate my more limited pantry. While I would love to keep every possible type of flour and grain on hand, I find that when they become too crowded, one inevitably shifts to the back or the bottom, gets forgotten and unused and eventually spoiled by some unpleasant interaction with an uninvited pest.
Thus, I don’t keep many different types of flour, although having now tested this recipe, I may concede to Ms. Thomas’ original (who, me?) and spring for some rye flour next time. The bread is delicious, and more importantly, it is easy. Yes, it is yeast bread, and it’s still easy. What’s to lose? Know what you get if your bread doesn’t work? Really, really dense bread. Can I tell you something? Even really dense homemade bread is delicious – just be sure to eat less of it. 😉 C’Mon. Give it a try. You’ll be glad you baked.
Mixed Grain Bread – adapted from Anna Thomas’ in The Vegetarian Epicure, p. 39.
- 2 c boiling water
- 1 T salt
- 3-4 T olive oil, divided
- 1 T molasses
- 1 c yellow corn meal
- 1 c rolled (old fashioned) oats
- 1/2 c lukewarm water
- 2 packages yeast (or 4 1/2 t if you’r not using packages)
- 3 c whole wheat flour
- 1.5 c white whole wheat flour
Stir boiling water, salt, 2 T olive oil and molasses in large mixing bowl (or in bowl of stand mixer). Stir in corn meal and oats and let this mixture sit for AT LEAST 10 minutes. You’re going for lukewarm – too warm and you’ll kill the yeast later – but no pressure, and remember dense bread is still yummy. 😉 While the grains are cooling, dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Let sit while grains are cooling and then add yeasty water to grains.
Stir in the whole wheat flour. Add the white whole wheat by 1/4 c measures until the dough becomes stiff and cohesive (tacky but not sticky or gooey). If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead the dough for at least 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes. If the dough becomes too sticky, add more flour. After at least five minutes of kneading, dough should be smooth and stretchy to the touch. Form a ball and place it in a large, oiled bowl. Turn the dough over so that it is oiled on all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it in a warm place to rise until doubled (around 1 1/2 hours).
When the dough has doubled, punch it down and form it into two loaves. Place loaves on a baking sheet that has been oiled or lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let the loaves rise for about another 1/2 hour (until they’ve almost doubled). Just before putting bread in oven, slice down the middle with a sharp knife – just breaking the skin of the dough, not cutting the loaf into pieces. Bake in hot oven on middle rack for about 45 minutes. About half way through, brush the loaves with the reserved olive oil to encourage browning and olive oil goodness. You needn’t use it all if it doesn’t make sense – my measurement on this part was not measuring spoon aided.
Remove from oven when the crust feels firm and is slightly browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes prior to slicing and devouring.