Multi-grain Bread

Grains are grasses that produce edible seeds. They are native to what is now Iran, Iraq and Turkey, or the Fertile Crescent, where they were first cultivated some 10,000 years ago. Grains enjoyed today include wheat, rye, rice, oats, barley, corn, sorghum, millet, buckwheat and flax.

Most grains are undemanding about their growing situation. They enjoy full sun but do just fine in cool, cloudy climates with poor soils and little water. (Rice, a semi-aquatic annual grass, is the exception here.)

Also, most grains germinate in 2 days. That beats most annual weeds!

When the grasses become golden brown and the kernels, or seeds, are dry, it is time to harvest. Then the grain is threshed, loosening the stalks and outer husks from the kernels. Separating the threshed hulls, also called chaff, from the kernel is called winnowing.

Multi-Grain Bread

1/2 cup unsweetened multi-grain cereal
(such as 7-grain)
2 cups boiling water
1 envelope dry yeast
4–1/3 cups (approximately) bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
11/2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons flax seeds
   (available at natural food stores)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 cups water

Mix all seeds in bowl. Punch down dough. Turn out onto lightly oiled surface. Knead briefly. Shape into 12”x14”inch loaf. Sprinkle baking sheet with 2 teaspoons seeds. Place loaf atop seeds. Cover with towel. Let rise in warm area almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Place cereal in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until mixture cools to between 105°F and 115°F about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle yeast over cereal. Add 1 cup bread flour, oil, sugar and salt and stir until smooth. Gradually mix in enough remaining bread flour to form dough. Cover dough; let rest 15 minutes.

Turn out dough onto floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 10 minutes. Oil large bowl. Add dough to bowl; turn to coat. Cover bowl with clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 hour.

Position 1 oven rack in center and 1 just below center in oven. Place baking pan on lower rack and preheat oven to 425°F. Brush loaf with water. Sprinkle with remaining seed mixture. Using a sharp knife, cut 3 diagonal slashes in surface of loaf. Place baking sheet with loaf in oven. Immediately pour 2 cups water into hot pan on lower rack in oven (water will steam).

Bake loaf until golden and crusty and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Makes 1 loaf.