In week # 20 of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge we encounter Peter Reinhart’s “Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire.” He claims that “this bread makes the best toast in the world.” That’s a pretty bold claim. Toast boasting is not something I take lightly. I was looking forward to testing and toasting this bread.
This is a 2 day bread. On day 1 you place coarse cornmeal, wheat bran and rolled oats in a bowl.
Moisten the grains with a bit of water and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit out on the counter overnight. Next, plan a dinner that includes brown rice and after cooking the rice, set aside 3 tablespoons to use in the bread the next day.
The next morning, when I checked on the grains, they had absorbed all the water and looked like mush.
Then the “soaker” is mixed with bread flour, brown sugar, honey, buttermilk, salt, yeast brown rice and water to form a dough. I mixed the dough in the Kitchen Aid mixer for about 10 minutes. I found that I had to add an additional 1/2 cup of flour to get the right consistency. I finished kneading the dough by hand for an additional 5 minutes. The final dough was supple and tacky but not sticky.
The dough is then set into an oiled container and set aside for about 90 minutes to double in size.
To form the loaf, the dough is flattened out into a rectangle, about 6 x 8 inches. Then it is rolled up, from the short side and the seam is pinched shut.
The bread goes into a loaf pan, is sprayed with water and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Then the loaf is set aside to proof, for about 90 minutes, or until the dough is about 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
Into the oven the bread went. After about 20 minutes, I noticed the top was getting too brown so I covered it with foil and continued baking for another 15 minutes until it was done.
After about 2 hours I sliced and tasted. Some multigrain breads can taste like cardboard. Not this one! The different grains gave this bread a wonderful texture. It was chewy without being tough and the honey and brown sugar added a fantastic sweetness.
The next morning I gave the bread the final test – I toasted it. Peter Reinhart’s boast was valid. This was the best toasted bread I have ever had. I loved this bread so much I made a second loaf the next day, to slice up and freeze so I could have it toasted for breakfast for the next few days. I decided to incorporate some whole wheat flour into my second loaf. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of white bread flour. I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of white bread flour. The results were subtle but the final loaf was slightly chewier in texture and nuttier in flavour. This loaf is a keeper!!