I am looking out the window at a beautiful blanket of Door County snow…..about one and a half feet of snow as a matter of fact! I open the door to the deck and my two miniature dachshunds look at me lovingly with “you’re kidding me” in their eyes.
A perfect day to grab some yeast and bake a few of my favorite breads.
First up is a five grain bread that I love to have in the morning with fresh jam. This is the type of bread you toast for breakfast, not the softer type you may want for a cold sandwich. I usually use bulgur as one of my grains, but no bulgur in the cabinets today! So I am subbing the bulgur with quinoa. My other ingredients include bread flour, whole wheat flour, whole grain oatmeal and flaxseed. I also add some unsalted raw sunflower seeds for some crunch.
For the flaxseed, I make sure it is ground so the health benefits are better absorbed. I do this with my handy coffee grinder. I actually own two coffee grinders….one for spices and seeds and the other, surprisingly, for coffee!
Bread making tips
- For those of you who are novice bread bakers, here are a few tips. Water temperature is a key to great yeast development. The water should be between 110 and 115 degrees. Use a kitchen thermometer to test the temperature.
- Second, it is better to have the dough be a bit tacky in the bowl than too stiff. Add the last 3/4 to 1/2 cup of flour as needed when finishing your kneading. With the dough still a bit tacky, place the dough on a work surface with a little more of the flour and knead the remaining flour it. The dough is ready when it is smooth and doesn’t stick to the work area anymore.
The five grain bread recipe with some photos are listed below.
My second baking endeavor for the day is to begin English muffins. You need to start one day ahead to make the “poolish”. This mixture of flour, yeast, water and a bit of honey sits overnite and is the starter for your English muffins. I looked at the weather report and it looks like more snow, so TWO days of baking are in order. Click here to see the recipe and photos for the English muffins.
- one tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4 ounce envelopes)
- 2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup whole grain oatmeal plus a little for the top of the bread
- 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
- 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds plus a few for top of bread
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg white
- Cook the quinoa by placing 1/3 cup dry quinoa into a small pot. Add one cup of cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes. The quinoa will “pop” open and the water will almost be absorbed. Drain and cool.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, place the yeast, 1/2 cup of the warm water and one tablespoon honey. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to proof. You will know when the mixture is ready when it starts to foam.
- While the yeast is proofing, get your dry ingredients ready. Place the 1/2 cup oatmeal, flax seeds, 1/4 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, 3 3/4 cups bread flour and 3 cups whole wheat flour in a bowl. Mix in salt to combine (retain the remaining 3/4 cup flour to add as needed to the final dough.)
- In a separate bowl, combine the 2 eggs, remaining water, remaining honey and 1/4 cup milk.
- Place the flat beater on your mixer (or a dough hook) and add 1/3 of the flour mixture plus the cooked quinoa. Add 1/2 of the liquid mixture along with the melted, room temperature butter. Add the remaining flour and liquid mixture. Beat on low to combine..
- If the mixture seems too sticky, add some of the remaining 3/4 cup flour. Be careful not to put too much flour into your bread mixture. The dough should be tacky but not wet. Remember it is easier to knead in additional flour than to try to add moisture to a bread dough.
- Remove the dough and place on a lightly floured work area. Knead the bread for 5 minutes, adding a little flour as need
ed. The final dough should be smooth but not dry. It should not stick to your work area when done.
- Place the dough into a bowl which has been lightly sprayed with nonstick food spray such as PAM. Place dough in bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Put in a warm area and let rise until double in bulk….about 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray two bread pans with nonstick food spray.
- Remove the dough from the bowl. Place on a lightly floured work area and knead. Divide into two pieces. Lightly roll the first piece into a rectangle. Bring the two long sides together to meet in the middle.
Place, seam side down, into a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining bread dough.
- Brush the tops of the bread with the remaining egg white. Sprinkle with remaining oatmeal and sunflower seeds and let bread rise. The dough should go slightly over the top of the pan
- Place the bread on the middle rack of the oven. Immediately lower oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Bake for 35 minutes. The bread should make a slightly hollow sound when you give it a little ‘knock” on the top. You may want to rotate the breads in the oven during the baking process to make sure they bake evenly.
- Remove and let cool. Remove from the pan.