Sunday, April 11, 2010

Multigrain Sandwich Bread (A non-Lahey recipe, if you are keeping track.)

Last Friday, I entered the day with the sole task of making this bread. I had a subscription to Cook's Illustrated for a few years in the early 2000's, and during one of my moves, decided to go through the 4 or 5 year stash that had accumulated and pull out the recipes that I knew I would make. I usually have to be in the right frame of mind for this, since sometimes everything looks like it would be worth saving. In my own best interest of avoiding a basement full of clutter (and because we all know that once a recipe crosses the boundaries of a kitchen, chances are it will never be seen again), I kept only the "healthy" recipes that for the most part did not contain a pound of butter, and ones that I absolutely knew I would make. Among them are some of my favorite recipes, flatbreads made stovetop in a cast iron pan (and in about an hour!), a chicken tikka masala that I'm fairly sure enriches my life to great extent, and a lemon pound cake to shame maybe all other lemon pound cakes, excepting maybe Dorie Greenspan's...

Anyone even somewhat familiar with Cook's Illustrated can tell you that they exhaustively test recipes, and as a one-time devotee I can tell you that if you follow their directions, you are guaranteed an end product that lives up to their rigorous testing. Now that I have cooked from some of their recipes for nearly a decade, I can also say that many of their recipes make good "jumping off points", and many very fat-laden ones can successfully be lightened.

Part of this bread's base of grains is a 7-grain hot cereal mix from Bob's Red Mill. I will also note, that Bob's Red Mill grains usually have killer recipes on the backs of their packages, and their grain mixes for breakfasts in particular are good on their own. So if you happen to pick up a package and then don't have time to make this recipe, you will no doubt use it up in no time. This particular variety did not come in organic, but I would assume you could probably substitute one of their other organic mixtures if you were concerned.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it makes 2 loaves. Normally, I'd rather have the excuse to be making a new loaf and not worrying about consuming two. But this one is so good, that one disappeared by the end of the day, and now there is just a third of the second loaf left. It would also be a great thing to have waiting for you in your freezer, if you don't happen to have a throng of hungry people stopping by your house to eat up your leftovers...

I do have a kitchen scale, and did weigh my amounts when they were given. This dough was the next best thing to a "knead-less" variety, and overall a pleasure to work with. I would not probably recommend trying to make it without a stand mixer, since it is a pretty stiff dough. If I were pressed to formulate a proper critique, and I was being kind of picky, I'd say to nix the oats on top, since many of them didn't stick, and were rather messy when I cut into the bread. I'm considering mixing a bit into my dough next time. That said, they do look nice, and who am I to worry about a little messiness?

Easy Multigrain Sandwich Bread - Cook's Illustrated March/April 2006
  • 6 1/4 oz. (1 1/4 c.) 7-grain cereal mix
  • 20 oz. (2 1/2 c.) boiling water
  • 15 oz. (3 c.) unbleached AP flour (plus extra for dusting the work surface)
  • 7 1/2 oz. (1 1/2 c.) whole wheat flour
  • 4 T. honey
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 1/2 t. instant yeast (I used active dry from the co-op refrigerated bulk bin)
  • 1 T. table salt
  • 3/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick oats
Place cereal mix in the bowl of standing mixer and pour boiling water over. Let it sit, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, mix flours in medium bowl.

Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine. Attach bowl to standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running on low, add flours, 1/2 c. at a time, and knead until dough forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 20 minutes.

Add salt, and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3-4 minutes (it only took 2 minutes for me), adding 2-3 T. of additional AP flour if it doesn't clear the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead for 5 more minutes. Add seeds and knead for another 15 seconds.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly, and dough forms a smooth, taut ball. Place into a lightly greased 4 qt. container (I used the base of my crockpot and then covered with the glass lid), cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat to 375. Spray or grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, and pat into 12x9 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half crosswise. With short side facing you, and starting at the farthest end, roll dough piece into a log by tucking it under itself as you go. To seal it, pinch the seam gently together. Spray lightly with water or cooking spray, and roll each log in oats. Place loaves seam sides down in pans, pressing gently into corners. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until almost doubled, 30-40 minutes. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with a finger) Bake 35-40 minutes (until loaf registers 200 on an instant read thermometer). Remove from pans, and cool before slicing, about 3 hours.

I can tell you that it is a shame that I haven't made this sooner. It may seem to take a bit in the time department, but not really in the labor department, so it will fit nicely into my bread baking repertoire, even though it is not a Lahey bread. It is soft, and not too grainy tasting, and nicely earthy from the sunflower seeds, not to mention it makes great toast! I would imagine that some tweaking can be done, if you keep the boiling water to grain mix ratio constant. I also think some walnuts or pecans would be a nice addition.

In case Mr. Lahey thinks I have lost my obsession, I think I'm going to fit one of his loaf pan breads into my week, because I've been eying a peanut butter and jelly bread, and it can not go as long as this Cook's Illustrated one did without being tested! I'm sure I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm figuring it can take the place of some dessert, since I know I need to cut back a little.


  1. This looks like a lovely soft bread. What sort of grains are in the mix? I don't think we can get that sort of thing here is Australia.

  2. Marcellina: the website said: 7-Grain Cereal is milled and blended from freshly ground high protein, whole grain wheat, rye, oats, triticale, barley, brown rice, oat bran and flaxseed.

    I think if you used weights, you could use a mix of your choosing, and the packaged mix is a nice and uniform texture. I have never mailed anything to Australia before, but the mix isn't pricey, and I'd totally send you a package if you like! Email me at my address in my profile!

  3. Lovely sammich loaf!
    One of these days, I'm going to find the time to bake bread (again) in between my work obligations. Because every time I come over here, I'm constantly drooling over yours!!

  4. This bread looks fabulous! So soft, just perfect! I just found your blog and I'm curious, what is your job? I'm jealous, I want to work from home!

  5. Lo, you could totally manage these on a Saturday!

    Valen, I am a stay at home Mom, so I get to play around with all sorts of things!

  6. Looks great. My wife has recently started to make bread more often and it's been my pleasure to consume said product.

  7. Oh! I saw the episode where they make this bread and it looked pretty good. Seriously though, yours looks 100 times better. I hope Mr. Lahey won't be too disappointed, but hey sometimes a girl needs to branch out! :)

  8. msmeanie, I totally wanted to start a Lahey pb&j loaf tonight, but I fear I have to wait! Too many carbs, so little time!

  9. Looks delicious, I love multi grain breads! Maybe you can test kitchen it yourself and turn it into a lahey no knead recipe for those of us scared of bread!

  10. This looks great! My only complaint is that there is NO WAY we can let it cool for 3 hours. You're right about Bob's recipes...they are always delicious and nutricious!

  11. Eric in MinneapolisAugust 26, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    I make this recipe at least once or twice a month, and have had good success doubling for 4 loaves. (Just be sure your KitchenAid is big enough.) Toasted with jam for breakfast, or in a sandwich for lunch, it also makes a great gift for when I'm a guest in someone's home. (Something more personal than a bottle of wine, I think.) I've also omitted the oats, but will try maybe a 1/4 of the 1/2 cup for the 7-grain cereal to porridge step. And I always use King Arthur for both flours.


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