We at home are especially fond of Julia Child’s white sandwich bread, which I already posted last year (in Spanish). It was my first time making bread. A sure hit. No room for error. So this time I felt brave enough to include a few add-ins and try new types of flour. The outcome? A simply irresistible whole wheat seeded bread, a tasty, rich and tender loaf that goes well with anything you have in mind.
There are few things in life that can be ranked equally with that of the scent of home baked bread. I must admit that making our own bread may be rather intimidating if we have not experienced dealing with yeasted doughs before, but there’s always a first for everything, isn’t there?
All those kneading and proofing steps, all that almost alien terminology may sound a tad bit baffling for the initiated at first. And perhaps, after getting over our initial qualms, our first homemade loaf does not turn out exactly the way we expected it to be. But we shouldn’t give up. Breadmaking is just a question of practice and patience; two concepts that usually get along perfectly together. And you already know what they say about practice, right?
I am not an experienced bread baker myself at all, but I find it a highly educational, relaxing, rewarding practice. Even when there is no happy ending. Thus, until you start to feel more confident with your breadmaking abilities, you just need to follow the chosen recipe to the letter and I can assure you that you will enjoy one of the most thrilling experiences from the comfort of your own kitchen.
And most of all, I couldn’t wait to use my new silicone bread maker by Lékué. And it has turned out to be a really practical and convenient tool; everything happens in the very same container: you can weigh out ingredients, do all the kneading, leave the dough to rise and then pop it straight into the oven. Can you imagine such a time and space-saving utensil? Besides, it does not even need prior greasing. Its size if perfect for us. And what’s more, in my humble opinión, it does have a very attractive design, don’t you think?
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) lukewarm water (45ºC - 110 degrees F aprox.)
- 1¼ teaspoons (3 g) dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons (35 g) honey, molasses or maple syrup
- 1¼ cups (175 g) whole wheat flour
- ⅔ - ¾ cup (85-100 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (70 g) assorted seeds and/or cereals (sunflower, flax, sesame, chia, poppy, oats, pumpkin, etc.) plus extra seeds for garnish
- Pour the lukewarm water into a small bowl and dissolve ½ teaspoon of the honey. Then sprinkle the yeast over the top and let stand for about 5 minutes. Little bubbles should start to appear (if not, you need to replace your yeast and start again.)
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl (our Lékué bread maker* is just perfect), mix together whole wheat flour, 85 g ( ⅔ cup ) all-purpose flour (keep the remaining flour for kneading) and salt with a rubber spatula until totally combined. Set aside.
- Stir in the oil and the remaining honey into the yeast mixture.
- Then gradually add the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients (see point 2) and stir until you have a shaggy dough.
- Let the dough rest, covered with oiled plastic wrap, for 20 minutes.
- With floured hands, knead the dough inside the very same container (alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand against a lightly floured counter) for about 7-8 minutes until fairly smooth. If needed (the dough feels somewhat sticky to the touch), gradually add some of the extra flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away easily from the sides of the bowl and hands and it's no longer sticky. The dough is kneaded when it is smooth and elastic, feels slightly tacky, and springs back when poked.
- Knead in the seeds thoroughly, making sure that they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball, place it back into the same container (no need to grease), cover with some oiled plastic wrap or a dish towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, 1½ to 2 hours.
- Sprinkle a little flour on a lightly floured work surface, and turn the dough out on top and punch the dough down with your fist a few times to release all the gases. Using your hands, shape the dough into a elongated 7 x 8½-inch (18 x 22 cm) rectangle and fold it into thirds, as if it were a letter, starting by one of the shorter ends. Then, place it again, seam downwards, in the bread pan, cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, close the lid and let rise again about 45 minutes more (note that it won’t rise much this second time).
- About 15 minutes before you plan to bake the bread, preheat the oven (electric) to 375 degrees F (190ºC) and put the oven rack in the middle position.
- When the dough is ready, gently brush with a wet pastry brush and sprinkle with some more seeds.
- Close the lid and bake it for 50-55 minutes. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (You can also use an instant-read thermometer; the bread is done when the temperature in the center is about 88ºC (190 degrees F)).
- Remove from the oven, open the bread maker and let cool completely before slicing.
The bread will keep fresh for up to 2-3 days at room temperature if kept away from light and air (it will remain mouth-tender for 2 more days).
- Place a medium size baking pan with some ice-cubes on the bottom of the oven during baking for a moister crumb and a crispier crust.
- Our bread flavour will depend on the type of the sweetener we choose. I've used rosemary honey and the outcome has been just awesome. If you prefer molasses, the final flavour will be somewhat more intense, slightly resembling that of liquorice, and your bread will be darker. Maple syrup is barely noticeable, but you'll end up with an amazingly finer loaf of bread. If none of these suggestions are enough to persuade you, you can always use good-old granulated sugar instead.
- This bread, as almost any other bread, can be frozen for several months; wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.
- International Bread Day: October 16th.