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Multi-Grain Bread

I love multi-grain bread. I’m not talking about the kind that you buy in the supermarket, bagged and sliced next to the white bread. I’m talking about the hearty, flavorful kind that you can get on a sandwich at a really great cafe. It’s the kind of bread that is invariably paired with a “California style” sandwich, the one that always seems to include tomatoes, avocado and sprouts. Of course, there might be other things on it, too, but such a sandwich is mostly about the bread.
I have wanted to make multigrain bread for a long time. I started with a recipe on the King Arthur Flour website and went from there. After a few substitutions and eliminating the sunflower seeds because I don’t care for nuts in my sandwich bread, my multi-grain loaf was finished. And it was everything I could have hoped it would be.

The bread was hearty with an oaty, nutty flavor. It was moist and very substantial, but that is a trait that you want in a bread like this, since it can stand up to any filling. It can even stand up to a total lack of filling and be satisfying! The crust is thick and crisp, really excellent.

One of the things that really makes it work is the vital wheat gluten in the recipe. The gluten allows the bread to rise better, creating a lighter product. The “multi grains” in the bread have either low or no additional protein in them, so adding the gluten, which is extra protein, means that you are going to have a less-dense, more tender loaf. If you don’t have vital wheat gluten, you can buy some from the Baker’s Catalogue or look for it at a natural grocery store. If you do not use it, you bread will still taste good, but it will be on the dense side.

I love this loaf. It makes fantastic sandwiches and unbelievable toast. The only thing that I would consider changing is its size, to make a larger bread, because I definitely want more.

Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread
1 tbps active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole rolled oats
2 tbsp powdered skim milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbso vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup flour and mix well. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic, 4-5 minutes, adding an extra tablespoon or two of flour, if necessary. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and let rise, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Gently deflate dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf by rolling like a jelly-roll and tucking the ends underneat the dough. Pinch seam together and place, seam side down, in greased loaf pan. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise until about 1/2 inch above the top of the pan, approximately 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F.
Bake loaf at 350F for 40 minutes, until dark gold.
Turn out from loaf pan and let cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.

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  • rae
    April 20, 2006

    nic, that loaf looks just lovely! i think i’ll make some today, substituting full fat soymilk powder for the milk powder.

  • Clare Eats
    April 21, 2006

    I love bread like that, and it is generally the sort I end up making…. I am going to have to try this!

  • Jen B.
    April 21, 2006

    This was a delightful recipe. Just had a slice and it was much lighter than the last multi-grain recipe I used. I really like your blog.

    Jen B.

  • Nerissa
    April 22, 2006

    That looks like a really nice loaf of bread. I love REAL wholewheat bread. Pity I can’t get my fiance to like it too. The closest he’ll get is the supermarket variety. If he had his druthers it would always be white bread.

  • Erin Eats
    April 24, 2006

    Oooh, this bread looks perfect, I’m definitely going to make it – thanks for sharing.

  • J.
    April 25, 2006

    I find that with 100% whole wheat breads if I

    1) Start with a sponge(all the water, all the yeast, half the flour) and let it get bubbly (about 30 minutes to an hour — I’ve also used a poolish or a biga)

    2) Put in all the ingredients and knead it for 20-30 minutes until I can stretch a small piece of dough into a translucent “windowpane” before it tears.

    3) Let it rise TWICE before shaping and going through the final rise

    The bread rises nice and high, and loses much of the bitter, whole-wheat taste that many people find off-putting.

    Just my $.02. I make a 100% whole wheat sourdough every weekend for my family that rises great, and there’s no vital wheat gluten or white flour in it at all.

  • Swan
    May 12, 2006

    This is exactly the loaf I was looking for. The texture and smell were wonderful – hearty, yet lightly textured. We ate it warm with butter, and for grill cheese. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes and detailed descriptions! Your blog is one of a kind. I truly enjoy it.

  • Nic
    May 12, 2006

    Those are great tips, J.!

    And, Swan – Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad that the loaf turned out well for you.

  • Anna Marie
    December 5, 2006

    This was my first attempt at bread making and it was wonderful! There is a restaurant here in Santa Barbara that has the best bread around and this was BETTER.

    I didn’t have rolled oats at home, so I used oat bran. It gave the bread a finer texture with the all the oat flavor. Try it.

    I love your site. My 2-year old son is addicted to the coconut bread (Thanks Bill) and my husband had half a loaf of this bread tonight. Thank you for all efforts and wonderful recipes.

  • J. Stokkel
    April 20, 2007

    Nic, I enjoy a lot your blog! Congratulations! It’s great. I would like to bake this bread but I have a question: 2 tbps ( tablespoons ) of active dry yeast, 14 grams, are not a bit to much for the amounth of flours? Thank you.

  • Nicole
    April 24, 2007

    J – Actually, the recipe only calls for 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast. That amount should be just right.

  • K. Lee
    September 23, 2008

    Love your blog, it’s total eye (and stomach) candy. I’m planning to make this bread tomorrow. One question: instead of milk powder, can I substitute milk and cut down on the water instead?

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