Reader note: I liked this bread so much that I decided to try it again and experiment a bit further with the ingredients. The results were fantastic, and I’ll append the post below with the details. This bread should be added to your baking to-do list. There is a saying they have in Singapore — “die die must try”. This is that bread.
If you’ve followed along on the blog, you might recall a recent post about my go-to bread — Sheryl’s Harvest Grains Loaf. I find this to be a reliable recipe for when time is short and I want a healthful whole grain bread. You can find the recipe here. Last week I thought I would take a look at the King Arthur website for additional recipes that I could try which use the harvest grains blend.
I happened across this recipe for A Simple, Rustic Loaf (it’s a winner with a five-star rating) and thought I’d give it a try. This recipe baked up as a huge crispy crusted loaf with a delicate interior — this bread is very different from my go-to loaf in a few very important ways.
- First, this loaf needs much more time as it uses the sponge method. I prepared the sponge and let it sit at room temperature overnight which enabled fantastic flavor development. The small amount of rye flour also contributes to the flavor. In addition to the fermentation time, this bread needs extra time for a second rise.
- Second, this bread uses a smaller amount of the harvest grains mixture relative to the flour, and there is no whole wheat flour so the texture is much lighter.
- Finally, this bread has no sweetener or oil added.
I followed the recipe as written with three changes. First, I add vital wheat gluten whenever my recipe uses whole grains or a seed mixture like the harvest grains blend. For this recipe, I added 2 tablespoons. Second, I did not have pumpernickel flour and used rye flour instead. Finally, I baked the recipe using my La Cloche baker which you can read more about here. The La Cloche ensures a fantastic crisp crust. To use this recipe with the La Cloche, you will want to pre-heat the oven with the dome inside at 450° for an hour before baking. If your oven is like mine, you will want to remove the upper rack before you begin the pre-heating and create more space to accommodate the La Cloche. I also pre-heated my baking stone on the rack where I will place the baker. When you’re ready, pop the bread in the oven (the bottom of the baker goes on top of the hot stone) and carefully put the very hot dome on top. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400° for 15 minutes. Finally, remove the dome and bake for 5 more minutes for a total baking time of 35 minutes. By the way, there is no need with the La Cloche to spray the bread with water or use a pan of ice cubes to create steam. As you can see below, I had great oven spring and ended up with a loaf that was so big, I couldn’t fit it into my bread keeper without cutting it in half.
This was a really happy experiment, and I’m sure this big beautiful bread will become a regular in my repertoire. Don’t fret if you don’t have the Harvest Grains blend. As much as I love it, I know how it is when you are out of an ingredient and need to substitute. There are plenty of ideas for how to improvise if you look through the reviews on the recipe page. Let me know if you try this one, I think you’ll really enjoy it.
As mentioned above, I made this bread a second time. This time I decided to make a change to the amount of all-purpose flour used in the dough. Instead of 9-1/2 ounces, I used 7 and then added 2-1/2 ounces of King Arthur’s Ancient Grains blend. This whole grain flour is a blend that includes 30% each amaranth, millet, and sorghum flours and 10% quinoa flour. I honestly had not gotten a lot of use out of this flour and needed to try and use it up which led to this experiment. The resulting bread had a slightly earthy but complex flavor that was indescribably delicious. Be sure to add the vital wheat gluten as I describe above. This dough rose really quickly creating another BBB — the first rise only took 50 minutes.