Homemade Whole Grain Bread (A Mini Loaf)

There’s something about bread making that stills me. Begs slowing down and paying attention. It’s difficult to put into words, really. If I were kneading by hand, I’d credit the rhythm, but these days, our bread is beautifully beaten and baked in a tidy little machine that whirls and hums softly on the countertop, and only requires a little tending along the way. And did I mention that this bread is arguably the best I’ve tasted? A perfect honey-colored crust with a moist, rich center. Simple enough for little hands to work alongside. Hearty enough to get smiles all around and “more bread please,” at the dinner table. As with most good gifts, the hardest part is in the waiting. As soon as the faintest whiff slips across the kitchen, I’m peppered with, “Is it ready?,” and “How much longer?,” and who can blame her? The scent alone is worth the effort. It’s adapted from Beatrice Ojakanga’s Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand and since it is a family favorite here, I thought perhaps yours might enjoy it as well. I’ve shortened the amount of bread flour by 1/4 cup and substituted with oat flour. The recipe, as it is written here, is for a sampler loaf. I will ammend this post with measurements for a full loaf in a week or so, but this little loaf is just enough to fill our little clan for a couple of suppers, and it’s so simple to bake up a fresh loaf, why not?

adapted from Beatrice Ojakanga’s Whole Grain Bread by Machine or Hand

i n g r e d i e n t s
2/3 cup boiling water
1/4 cup 10 grain cereal (we use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 Tbsp butter or oil
1 Tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp rapid-rising or active dry yeast

d i r e c t i o n s (by machine): Combine the 10 grain cereal and the boiling water. Allow to sit for half an hour or until cooled to room temperature. Add remaining ingredients except yeast. Make a small indentation in the dry ingredients. Then add yeast. Set the bread machine to the BASIC cycle, and select MEDIUM for the crust. Press Start. You’ll need to tend to the dough periodically during each of the machine’s kneading cycles, adding additional water (1 tsp at a time) or bread flour (1 Tbsp at a time), depending on whether the dough is too sticky or too dry. The dough should feel smooth and soft to the touch. Not too firm. Not sticky.

I’ve heard that for perfectly sliced bread, it should cool (possibly overnight) before slicing, but we have yet to muster the self-control that such an experiment would surely require. It’s heavenly hot, if you don’t mind juggling it like a piping potato between bites. Just save some for dinner too. You’ll have a hard time explaining to the rest of the family why the house smells like a bakery but you have nothing to show for it.

p.s. I enjoyed today’s piece from Apartment Therapy: 10 Simple Things to Make you Happier in Your Kitchen. Might be just the thing for those of us in a mid-winter rut.

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