In further evidence that I am getting older and becoming a real grown up, I now like and voluntarily eat multigrain bread.  As a kid, I have vivid memories of my making myself sandwiches with various degrees of discontent depending on what bread we had available.  The only thing I ever wanted was white bread, the softer and whiter the better.  If wheat was the only option available I could usually tolerate it.  But man, if it had any kind of seed or nut in it?  Forget about it.  Of course if that was really all we had and I was truly hungry, I would improvise, meaning I would sit for several minutes, picking out every seed and nut I could find, leaving dozens of tiny holes in each slice and a resulting bread with questionable integrity.  My dad would laugh and laugh at me.  If only he could see me now.

A few weeks ago, we had lunch with our good friends and they made these amazing sandwiches using a multigrain bread.  I came home wanting 1) to eat that sandwich every day forever, and 2) to find a recipe for a good multigrain bread.  I didn’t have to look very long or hard, because I recalled seeing this recipe in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook and decided to give it a try.  This ended up being just exactly what I was hoping for – a nice, hearty multigrain bread with a golden crust on the outside but still tender on the inside, the perfect consistency for making a good sandwich.  It’s also incredible toasted with an over easy egg on top.  I’ll be adding this to the list of homemade breads I have to keep on hand at all times in the freezer.  (In case you were wondering, that list includes baguettes, sourdough, burger buns, and now this.)  And I didn’t even pick out any seeds.

Ingredients

For the soaker: 
33 grams (6 tbsp. plus 1 tsp.) old-fashioned oats
33 grams (3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp.) sesame seeds
33 grams (¼ cup) hulled sunflower seeds
33 grams (¼ cup plus 1 tsp.) flaxseeds
33 grams (3 tbsp.) quinoa
100 grams (7 tbsp.) cold water

For the dough: 
311 grams (2 cups plus 3½ tbsp.) all-purpose flour
89 grams (¾ cup) whole wheat flour
44 grams (¼ cup plus 2 tbsp.) rye flour
3 grams (Scant 1 tsp.) instant yeast
89 grams (3.1 oz.) sourdough starter*
311 grams (1 cup plus 5 tbsp.) water at 75° F
10 grams (1¾ tsp.) fine sea salt
1 egg white mixed with 1 tbsp. water, for brushing

Directions

  • 01

    To make the soaker, combine the oats and all the sides in a bowl.  Stir in the water until evenly combined.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

  • 02

    To make the dough, combine the all-purpose, whole wheat and rye flours as well as the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix briefly to combine.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the starter and the water.  Mix on low speed for 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the salt over the top.  Continue to mix on low speed for 20 minutes.  Add in the seed mixture and any remaining water in the bowl, and mix on low speed just until evenly incorporated into the dough.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour or until about doubled in bulk.

  • 03

    Place a baking stone in the oven on an upper-middle rack, and place a metal baking dish on a lower rack.  Preheat the oven to 460° F. (The oven preheats for a long time.  This is important to adequately heat the baking stone and ensure a consistent oven temperature for baking.)  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough in half and form each half into a rough oval shape.  Let rest for 15 minutes (no need to cover).  Shape the dough into batards.  Take a rimmed baking sheet and flip it so the bottom side is facing up.  Cover with a piece of parchment paper.  Place the shaped loaves onto the parchment paper.  Cover the loaves with a clean kitchen towel or loosely with plastic wrap.  Let rise once more, 1 hour or until the when the dough is lightly pressed with a finger, the impression remains.

  • 04

    Just before baking the bread, measure out 3-4 cups of hot water.  Set aside.  Uncover the loaves.  With a sharp knife, make three shallow scores in the top of each loaf at an angle.  Brush the loaves lightly with the egg wash.  Remove the baking stone from the oven and carefully slide the sheet of parchment with the loaves onto the baking stone.  Return the stone with the dough to the oven.  With caution, pour the hot water into the baking pan set on the lower rack.  This creates steam to help give the crust a nice texture.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaves is 200-210° F.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

  • 05

    *Even though I already have sourdough starter, I decided to make the Bouchon liquid levain for this recipe just out of curiosity.  It is a bit involved and smells quite…pungent…in the process, but the results were great and I would recommend it if you are so inclined.  Otherwise, you can use other fed starter that you have on hand.  Instructions for the Bouchon levain follow: 

    • (Timing-wise, this is best started in the morning.)  To make the starter, combine 250 grams all-purpose flour and 250 grams of 75° F water in a plastic or glass container and stir until evenly combined.  Cover loosely.  Place in an area about 72° F.  Let stand for 24 hours. Some bubbles will appear, indicating the wild yeast that has been incorporated.
    • To feed, combine 250 grams of flour and 250 grams of water in a new plastic or glass container.  Stir in 150 grams of the starter, and discard the rest. Cover loosely and let sit for 12 hours.
    • Repeat the feeding process as described above every 12 hours for three days, for six total feedings.
    • The levain will be ready to use on the morning of the fifth day of the process, so to bake bread on a Saturday, start the levain on a Tuesday.
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2825/10185904086_854a1a4abf_z.jpg