I have been reading Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible ... and the more I experiment with her breads, the better I get at judging when bread dough 'is just right', when the loaves are perfectly done, how much flour to add as I knead, all the little things that help you get a better loaf of bread! It's so exciting!
...when you only have three seeds ... guess what the post becomes?
I have also made the pilgrimage to the King Arthur store in Norwich, VT and to a couple area foodie stores to pick up such things as bagette loaf pans, a bread molding basket and a liner to go with it, and some stellar flour to use for various loaf types. I also hit a tile store and bought thick terra cotta tiles to place in my oven. These tiles create an upper and lower block of solid heat when I preheat the oven and allow for a really hot start to the baking process and then a steady temperature during the bake time.
Silent Bob has never had it so good. The bread in the grey cottage has been markedly better of late!
Today, I had sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds all mixed up and kneaded into a nice whole wheat dough. I set some of the seeds aside and rolled the loaves in the seeds before laying them on parchment paper-lined baguette pans. It worked really well. In the past, loaves like these with a soft dough would settle into flatloaves when left to their own devices, but this baguette pan keeps them rounded and provides support for a nice rise.
The loaves rose nicely on the baguette pans, but they didn't flow up, out, or over the edges. they stayed nice and round and they baked up that way too! Hip, hip, hurray!
So, tonight we'll have a loaf with Heidi Swanson's Buttermilk Squash Soup and tomorrow we'll have toast and peach jam! Hurray for summer squash, peaches, and a good bread cook book!
Beth Hensperger's Four Seed Whole Wheat Bread
slightly adapted by Susan
Combine in a measuring cup and set aside for ten minutes:
- ⅓ c. warm water (108° F)
- 2½ tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ c. honey
- 2¾ c. bread flour
- 1c. whole wheat flour
- ½ c. wheat germ
- 1½ tsp. salt
Add to the yeast mixture:
- ¼ c. sunflower or canola oil
- 1 c. cool water (80° F)
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry in stages, beating and bringing the sticky dough off the sides of the bowl and toward the center ball.
When all the wet ingredients have been added, turn the dough onto a clean cool surface and knead briskly for a few minutes until all the flour is incorporated and the dough forms a smooth pliant ball of dough.
Let it rest while you clean the bread bowl and grease the inside.
Place the dough ball into the greased bowl and turn it to coat the dough with a thin layer of grease/oil/shortening.
Cover with a clean, damp cloth and place in a warm sunny spot for about 1 ½ hours or until the dough doubles in bulk.
Meanwhile mix together in a small bowl and have ready:
- 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
- 1 c. raw sunflower seeds
Press the dough down and turn it onto a clean cool surface. Push the dough into a flat oval and sprinkle the seeds over the surface, reserving a small amount for topping the finished loaves.
Fold the dough and seeds over on itself and begin to gently knead the seeds into the dough.
Divide the dough in half. Continue to push and pull the dough to distribute the seeds and to form two baguettes that are each about 18 inches long.
Lay the loaves on parchment paper in a baguette pan or on a cookie sheet. Cover with the same towel and let them rise for about 45 minutes.
A half hour before you want to bake the bread, place terra cotta tiles on the lowest rack and the highest rack in your oven.
Pre-heat the oven to 450° F.
Place the bread pans on the lowest rack and immediately turn the oven temp down to 375° F.
Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes or until dark brown and ‘hollow sounding’ when rapped with a knuckle.
Remove the bread and place the loaves on a rack to cool before slicing.