Artisan Whole Grain Bread: I love the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from my kitchen filling the house with its aroma. It transports me back to younger years when my mom or sisters made bread for our family of 12. Yes 12, that was a lot of bread. It wasn’t what we now call artisan bread, but it was just as wholesome, healthy, and delicious.
I think those days, and that wonderful smell was the beginning of my love of baking bread. Growing up, I had plenty of opportunities to learn the basic skills and principles of bread baking. I’ll be honest there were times I would have preferred to not be in the kitchen baking bread. However, when it was my turn to bake, that was not an option. I would have to devote nearly a whole day to make 12 loaves of bread. The method I learned involved lots of kneading of the bread dough.
A few years ago, I discovered a book by Peter Reinhart on bread baking that challenged my beliefs on how to make bread. He teaches a no-knead, stretch, and fold method for making bread. This method took my bread from delicious but ordinary to artisan and extraordinary.
How to make artisan whole-grain bread: A basic bread has four simple ingredients, flour, water, salt, and yeast. That’s it! Anything else is extra bonus ingredients. When you mix these four ingredients together, magic happens. They transform into the most amazing and delicious food we call bread. Let’s create magic and make some bread!!!
Here is another SIS (simple is smart) method for making bread.
1. Measure the flour into your mixing bowl. Weighing the flour will give you the best result. If you don’t have a scale to weigh the flour hop over to my Youtube video on how to measure flour. You will be glad you did because it will keep your bread from becoming dry and crumbly. (click on the highlighted words Youtube video).
2. Add the salt, yeast, whole grains, and water to the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until moistened.
I make my own mix of whole grains. I use what I have handy at the time I make the mix. I mix together equal parts of any combination of cracked wheat, rolled oats, steel-cut oats, hulled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, I love to use the ancient grains farro, amaranth, teff, freekeh, millet, and kamut. If you can find cracked varieties of the ancient grain use them. If not, I briefly pulse a mixture of ancient grains in the Vitamix or Blendtec blender to break them up and assist with softening by helping them absorb moisture. If you have only a few varieties use what you have. There is no perfect combination. It is a matter of what you have and what you like.
What are ancient grains? Ancient grains are grains that have remained largely unchanged over the past several centuries. Most of the whole grains today fall in this category with the exception of modern wheat. These grains are also superfoods, rich in nutrients and fiber.
3. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. (this rehydrates the flour)
4. Stretch and fold the dough four times. (click on this Youtube video to see how this is done). Cover the dough with the mixing bowl between the stretch and folds. The dough has to rest for 20 minutes between each stretch and fold so this part of the process will take an hour.
5. After the last stretch and fold, place the dough back in your mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, until the dough doubles in size. Once the dough has doubled, shape the dough into two batards or one round rustic loaf. When shaping the loaves you want to retain the gas that is trapped in little pockets throughout the dough. So treat the dough gently and don’t degas the dough.
6. Spread some of the wholegrain mixture on a piece of parchment paper. Mist with some water and roll the loaf in the the grains. The water helps the grains stick to the loaf.
7. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap, let the loaf rise until almost double. Cut 3 slashes in the top of the loaf, mist the loaf with water and bake.
The crisp crust on the artisan whole-grain loaf is in part a result of steam during the early part of the baking process. Mist the loaf with some water just prior to placing it in the oven. Then briefly open the oven door and remist the loaf at one minute, two minutes, and three minutes after placing the loaf in the oven.
If the loaf is getting over-browed, gently tent the loaf with aluminum foil. Rotate the position of the loaf in the oven to prevent uneven browning.
Lastly baking the loaf until the internal temperature reaches 108 to 112 degrees will result in a crispier crust and chewier loaf. An instant read thermometer works well for checking the internal temperature.
Time to cut off a piece of warm bread spread it with butter add a generous spoon of homemade jam and YUM!!!
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- Baking Steel
- large baking sheet without a lip
- To adjust the portions, click on the number of serving and a slider will pop up. Adjusting the slider up or down will automatically calculate the amount needed for each ingredient.
- Mix all the ingredients together with a mixing spoon. The dough will be very rough and shaggy
- Let dough rest 15 minutes
- Make an oil slick on the counter and do 4 stretch and folds at 20-minute intervals as demonstrated in this YouTube Video. Click here.
- After the last stretch and fold, place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise until nearly double - about an hour.
- After the dough has doubled remove it from the bowl and split in half. Form each rustic loaf as shown in the video. click here Much of the gas in the dough should remain in the loaf to give it small air pockets after baking.
- Gently roll the dough in the whole grains to lightly coat the outside of the loaf. Misting the wholegrains with water helps them adhere to the loaf.
- Place loaves on a large parchment-lined baking sheet without a lip. If you don't have one without a lip you can bake the loaves on the baking sheet.
- Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let loaves rise until nearly double. About 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees while the loaves are rising,
- Just before baking make 3 horizontal slashes with a sharp knife. Mist the loaves with water from a spray bottle.
- Place loaves on baking steel by sliding them off the baking sheet. Mist loaves every 60 seconds for the first 3 minutes of baking.
- Bake loaves for 12 minutes at 450 degrees and then decrease the temperature to 400 degrees and bake another 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 210 - 212 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. If the loaves start to over-brown loosely tent them with foil. If your oven has a hot spot move the loaves around to allow them to brown evenly.