Multigrain bread

September 03, 2008

4 cups starter
1 2/3 cups water
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 1/3 cups high-gluten bread flour
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup oat or wheat bran
2/3 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons cooked brown rice
3 3/4 teaspoons salt

After you have prepared your starter, in a large bowl use your hands or a rubber scraper to mix the water, honey, brown sugar and starter mix until the ingredients begin to stick together.

In another large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, including the rice. Then add the wet ingredients.

Place the mixture on a lightly floured surface and knead for 20 minutes. The finished dough should be elastic and dry enough so that it does not stick to the surface. Add a little more flour or water as you knead to reach this consistency.

The dough must rise twice. For the first rising, place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise for about 3 hours at about 85 degrees. If it's warmer, the dough will rise quicker; if it's cooler, the dough will rise more slowly.


When its size has increased by about a third, or, when you poke the dough, a dent forms that fills in within 1 to 2 minutes, the first rising is done.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently flatten the dough into a disc. Pull up the sides -- the four corners into the middle. Flip the dough over and shape it into a ball.

Press a woven, nap-free, tea towel into a colander. Flour the towel to keep the dough from sticking to it. Place the dough, floured side down, into the colander. Sprinkle flour on the dough and fold the edges of the towel over the dough. Let it rise another three hours at about 85 degrees.

About 15 minutes before the loaves have finished rising, place two cloches in the oven and heat the oven to 500 degrees. (If you have only one cloche and are baking one loaf at a time, retard the rising of one loaf by placing it in a cooler place.)

When the oven reaches the desired temperature, remove the top of the cloches, sprinkle the bottoms with cornmeal, and gently dump the loaves (now right-side-up again) on the bottom of the cloches. Slash the top of the loaves with a razor blade, put the tops back on the cloches and return them to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Then remove the tops from the cloches, reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and continue baking for 35 minutes.

Remove the loaves and place them on cooling racks. If you tap the bottom of a loaf it should sound hollow, and the internal temperature should be about 190 degrees. The bread continues to cook after it's taken out of the oven, so don't cut it for at least an hour.

Makes two 2-pound loaves.

-- Courtesy of Bill Theriault of Halfway

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