Despite my previous experiences with substitutions in recipes, I admit to freely substituting in recipes. For example, yesterday I went to the store. Actually, I went to three stores because that is the way things are done around here. I had my list, which I spent all weekend on, and I was pretty sure it was the most thorough list I’d made in weeks. I just wanted to get it all done at once and not worry about it for the rest of the week. (Which never happens, by the way. I always have to go back. Usually more than once.) And I actually got everything on my list, which rarely happens. Hooray, right? But when I got home, looked at the recipe I was planning to use for dinner last night and realized I forgot something. And I didn’t get enough of something else. And we’d run out of something I thought we’d had. So I switched things around and made something else for dinner.
I can’t always switch things around like that, so I have to use what I have. Enter bread recipe. Shiloh mentioned a few weeks ago that her bakery recently increased the price on her favorite multi-grain bread and wondered if I had a recipe. Well, I didn’t then, but I do now. I would say that this is exhaustively tested, but that would be misleading. Yes, I’m usually exhausted, and yes, I’ve tested this, but that is about it. That’s the best I can do. The recipe is inspired by Artisan Bread in 5 and Martha Stewart and adapted to my own thoughts and needs about what a good loaf of bread should be. Of the first batch Micah said, and I quote, “It is definitely the best loaf of sandwich bread you’ve ever made.” And if you start a batch and realize that you ran out of quinoa, no problem, just add some more rolled oats to make up the difference.
The Mother Runner’s Awesome Multigrain Sandwich Bread
4 cups warm water
2 T. instant yeast
2 T. honey
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown rice flour (rye flour might also work well, or if you don’t have either of those, add another cup of whole wheat or all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup wheat germ (if you run out of this, add another 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
1 cup mixed nuts, seeds, and grains (I’ve used oats, cooked quinoa, sesame seeds, finely ground cornmeal, and poppy seeds. I think any nuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds — all finely ground — would also do well. I take my measuring cup and add a little of this and a little of that until it’s full and then dump it in with everything else.)
1 1/2 T. salt
Put the water in a large bowl, food processor or standing mixer. Add the yeast and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Add the honey, flours, wheat germ, nuts/seeds/grain, and the salt. Mix it until it is of uniform consistency. It will be very wet and sticky. If you have mixed it in a food processor or standing mixer, move the dough to a large bowl or container and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a lid. Let it rise for an hour or so (it will rise quickly) at room temperature, then put it in the fridge. Let it sit for several hours or overnight.
When you are ready to bake it, grease two 9×5 bread pans. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and keep more on hand for dusting. Place the dough on the floured work surface, dust with more flour, and knead it for a few strokes until it is less sticky. Add a little more flour if you need to. Split the dough in half, shape each half into a loaf and place in the prepared pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let rise for 1 hour 40 minutes. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Before placing the bread in the oven, lightly dust it with flour. Then, using a sharp knife, make a shallow slit (1/4-1/2 inch deep) the length of the bread. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the bread reads 190 degrees and it is nice and brown. Cool completely before eating.