The women in my family do not believe in following recipes. Some of us, like my mom, are rather belligerent about it. 🙂 Others, like my sister, are just disdainful toward recipes. I used to be this way as well—and still am when cooking—but for the most part I have become a believer in pretty closely following the recipe when baking. Mostly because the smallest change can make a big difference and usually I am attracted to the intended finished product—unlike when cooking, when I can look at a recipe and see its potential but also know that I have no desire to follow the recipe.
However, this urge to change a recipe runs pretty strong in my family, and sometimes I totally fall off the wagon.
Today I made Beth Hensperger’s 7 Grain Honey Bread. Only it, uh, had no 7 grain cereal in it. My intentions started out good—but when I couldn’t find the 7 grain cereal in the freezer in the kitchen and it had been storming and raining all day (and not happy warm humid summer rain but rather stinking miserable chill you to the bone spring rain) and I just did not want to deal with running to the (unconnected) garage to look through the chest freezer, I started making changes. And you know what? I think they came out pretty darn good. Now hopefully I can remember all of them!…
A note on this dough: Henspergers speaks of it as though it is pretty similar to other enriched sandwich loaves, but I found it to be much, much stickier. It is possible my grain substitutions are the cause, but really I just think this bread is super-enriched for a sandwich bread, making for a very wet dough. Which is of course one of the things making it really, really tasty. But do expect it to be sticky—if you knead it by hand I would keep it to a minimum, rather than overloading it with flour to keep it kneadable. (*A later note: after talking to some other CLBBers about it, it might have been the spelt that made it so sticky. So if you want to avoid that part of it, maybe try AP or bread flour–and let me know how it comes out!)
Laura’s Not 7 Grain Multi Grain Honey Bread
Adapted from The Bread Bible, Beth Hensperger
1/3 cup traditional rolled oats
1/3 cup barley flakes
1/3 cup quinoa
1 ½ cups boiling water
¼ cup cornmeal (I would have used a coarse grind if I had had any)
¼ cup wheat bran
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 ½ T active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 ½ cups whole grain spelt flour
¼ cup buttermilk
3 T neutral vegetable oil
2 T melted butter
1/3 cup honey
3 large eggs
1 T salt
4-5 cups white spelt flour (I get this locally—you could use AP or bread flour)
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you are making this by hand), pour the boiling water over the oats, barley flakes and quinoa. Let stand for at least an hour.
Mixer the lukewarm water, the yeast and the pinch of sugar in a small bowl and let stand until foamy.
Add the cornmeal, wheat bran, whole grain spelt flour, buttermilk, butter, eggs, salt, oil and honey (I recommend pouring the oil into the measuring cup first, dumping it, and then measuring the honey—it will slide right out for you) to the soaking grains. Beat for 30 seconds. Add the proofing yeast to the mixer bowl and beat for another 30 seconds—the mixture will not be smooth (because of all of the whole grains) but it should be consistent.
With the mixer on low, add the white spelt flour, ½ cup at a time. When the dough starts to form a shaggy mass, switch to the dough hook. This dough is a difficult one to know when to stop adding flour—for a kneading dough, it is quite sticky. After a minimum of 5 cups of white spelt flour and after the dough maintains a ball for several rotations of the dough hook (before succumbing to the sides in an uneven sticky mass again), then it is probably about done. You will need to a spatula or dough scraper to scrape the dough into a large oiled container for rising. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and leave for 60-90 minutes, until doubled.
This part is tricky because the dough is so sticky. Divide the dough in half as best as you are able and shape each half into a rectangle. Don’t worry about deflating much—the dough is so sticky it will happen either way. Place each rectangle into a greased 9 X 5 loaf pan. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes, until doubled.
15 minutes before the loaves are finished rising, turn the oven on to 375 F.
Bake the risen loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the interior registers 200 F with a thermometer. Dump out of the loaf pans and let cool on a cooling rack. I personally believe in slicing at the 30 minute mark, when they are still warm.