This recipe is a very distant cousin to a Family Circle recipe for Italian bread, which I discovered years ago and streamlined into my all-purpose bread dough. Despite happily using it for cinnamon rolls, apricot horseshoes, pizza dough and everything in between, I was hesitant to try making it wholegrain without a more defined recipe. Strangely, I couldn’t turn up a single wholegrain bread recipe on Google that didn’t contain “mixed whole grains” as an ingredient… and as I wanted to make my own grain mix, I eventually turned to my trusty recipe after all.
The result, after some tweaking, is a bread that’s dense and nutty without being too heavy. It’s also extremely adaptable — my just-before-payday version made with only kibbled rye and wheat works just as well as my fancier nuts-and-seeds version. Some day I plan to try adding ground flaxseed to the dough to up the nutritional content. My husband takes a few slices of this bread to work every morning to toast and eat with jam — he recently told me he prefers it to my regular wholemeal bread. Coming from someone who had to be coaxed into trying non-white bread a few years ago, I call that a success!
Recipe for One Large Loaf of Wholegrain Bread
- 3 cups flour, wholemeal, white or a mixture (you can add a little rye flour in too)
- 2 cups extra flour for kneading
- 1 ½ tsp yeast with bread improver
- 1 Tbsp honey or brown sugar
- 1 cup mixed whole grains, nuts and seeds
- approximately 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
A few hours at minimum or the night before you wish to make the dough, tip your cup of grains, seeds and nuts into a sieve and rinse well. Dump into a breakfast bowl and cover with water, remembering grains swell when soaked — aim for about a cup of water, but a little less or more can be compensated for in the kneading process. Leave the grains to soak.
When you wish to make the dough, mix the flour and yeast together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Dump in the undrained grains and add the oil, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar or honey. Mix into a dough. If it’s very sloppy, add an extra cup or two of flour before turning the dough out; then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes. You may have to add quite a lot of extra flour — this is OK! The consistency of the dough depends on your choices of grains, the amount of water you used and other mysterious factors I haven’t been able to determine. More flour just means a larger loaf in the end, which is a Good Thing.
Let the dough rest for five minutes while you do something else, then add the salt and knead for a further five to ten minutes. By this stage it should no longer be sticky. Oil or butter a large bowl, plop the dough in, turn it over to cover all the dough in oil, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled.
Punch down the dough and shape as desired. If you didn’t add much flour during the kneading process it should fit a bread tin nicely; if you added more than 2 cups, it might be a little large. Make a freeform loaf instead, or do what I do and pull off a lump of dough, roll it into a circle and fry in ghee with a little garlic salt on top. Delicious… but I digress. Cover the loaf with the oiled plastic wrap and leave again to double.
When dough has doubled, sprinkle the surface with water and then with rock salt. Place in a cold oven, turn oven to 180C and bake for 40-50 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped and be browned on the bottom. Remove from the tin or baking tray immediately, cool on a wire rack and serve!
Tips for Baking Wholegrain Bread:
- Grease the tin or tray for ease of removal. I like to use oil and then liberally sprinkle coarse cornmeal, sesame seeds or poppy seeds onto the surfaces. I also sprinkle the loaf with seeds and rock salt before baking. My husband loves his bread topped with sunflower seeds — they toast up beautifully during the baking process!
- If you make your own ghee (clarified butter), pour the leftover milk solids into the bowl when you add the liquids.
- Rye flour is low in gluten and makes a weak dough. Multigrain bread needs a pretty substantial dough to hold all the grains up, so don’t add more than about half a cup of rye flour. I do use a little because it gives the bread a pleasant nutty taste.
- Wholemeal flour is obviously healthier than white, but I use a mixture of two-thirds wholemeal, one-third white to lighten the dough. If you’re unfamiliar with the density of homemade wholegrain bread, start with mostly white flour and gradually switch the ratios.