This bread is a whole grain extravaganza. It's chock full of yummy things like rye, sunflower seeds, oat bran, flax, poppy seeds, and wheat germ. The recipe is from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, and I especially like it because it's flexible--you can add whatever seeds and grains you have on hand.
This is one of Dave's very favorite breads since it's hearty but not dry or too heavy. I like it toasted with apricot jam, but it also makes really nice sandwiches.
I am giving you the basic of the recipe here, but the book goes into great detail about all aspects of whole grain bread baking.
7 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups any combination of cooked and uncooked grains
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk, buttermilk, yogurt, or soy milk
Mix all the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until the ingredients form a thick porridge-like dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup spring water at room temperature
Mix all of the biga ingredients together to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again with wet hands for 1 minute.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the biga from the refrigerator to take off the chill. It will have risen slightly but need not have risen significantly in order to use it in the final dough.
Use all the soaker
Use all the biga
7 tablespoons whole wheat flour
5/8 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons honey or agave OR 1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted OR vegetable oil
Using a metal pastry scraper, chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces each. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the pieces to keep them from sticking.
You can mix the dough by hand or a mixer. Here's the directions for a stand mixer: Put the pre-dough pieces and all the other ingredients into the mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on slow speed for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook if need be and mix on medium-low speed , occasionally scraping down the bowl, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pre-doughs become cohesive and assimilated into each other. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
Dust a work surface with flour, then toss the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3 to 4 minutes, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten and make any final flour and water adjustments. The dough should have strength, yet still feel soft, supple and very tacky. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl, rolling to coat it with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, or until it is about 1 1/2 times its original size.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into either a loaf pan shape or a freestanding batard. Place the loaf shape in a greased 4 x 8 1/2-inch bread pan. For a batard, place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for about 45 to 60 minutes, until it is about 1 1/2 times its original size.
Preheat the oven to 425F. If doing a freestanding loaf, prepare a steam pan and a baking stone. When the dough is ready to bake, place it in the oven, pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan, lower the temperature to 350F, and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is a rich brown on all sides, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and registers at least 195F in the center. A steam pan is optional if baking in a loaf pan.
Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.