I was looking for a new bread recipe to have with soup and found a recipe for ten-grain bread in Great Natural Breads Made Easy that inspired me. Mine is different than the original for a couple of reasons. First, I started my loaf with a sponge, which always gives me a deep, rich flavor and great rise to any bread recipe. Second, when I got to the store, instead of finding the Bob’s Red Mill ten-grain cereal that the author called for, I found seven grain cereal. Seven it is! The cereal gives this a subtle, nutty taste that’s especially nice with a bowl of lentil soup.
The original recipe made two large loaves which were baked for 40 minutes, but I like making loaves small enough to eat in a single meal, with maybe a couple of slices left over for toast in the morning. Freeze the loaves that you don’t eat right away.
3 cups warm water, about 105 F
3 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
2 cups white bread flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing the loaves
2 tablespoons molasses
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups uncooked seven-grain cereal
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
4 to 4-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 4-1/4 cups)
A couple of tablespoons of rolled oats for the top, optional
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with dough hooks, stir together the warm water, yeast, and white flour. Cover with a clean dish cloth or paper towel and let stand at room temperature for an hour, or longer in the refrigerator. Small bubbles will form in the mixture.
Stir in the olive oil, molasses, salt, cereal, and vital wheat gluten. Stir in 4 cups of whole wheat flour. If you are kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 10 minutes. If the dough seems too sticky, add more whole wheat flour, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it no longer sticks to your hands. If you’re kneading in a mixer, start the mixer now. If the dough is too wet, it will slump across the bottom of the bowl as the mixer runs. In this case, add flour a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the dough just starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl (I added an extra 1/4 cup). Knead with the mixer for 5 minutes.
Pour a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn over a couple of times to coat it in oil. Cover with a clean dish cloth or paper towel and leave in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise for an hour.
Oil a large baking sheet. Divide the dough into 5 equal portions. Form each into an oval and transfer to the baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between the loaves for them to rise again. Brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with rolled oats, if using. Press the rolled oats gently into the top of the bread and set aside. Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until golden. Each loaf is 3 to 4 servings.