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Seven Grain Cereal Bread

A loaf of 7 grain bread This bread is based on a recipe from "Natural Health" magazine. It is a very, very nice bread. It was supposed to use quick rising yeast to get the bread ready to bake in less than an hour. You know how I feel about that... so the recipe went into the lab, and has been reformed. A warning - this bread has enough fiber to keep a regiment ahhhh... well... regular. If you are not used to a very high fiber diet, be careful with this bread. These loaves were allowed to rise in a banneton, a wicker basket that is lined with a floured cloth. The basket helps the loaf achieve its distinctive shape.

1 cup starter
1 cup water
1 1/8 cups White Flour
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp Barley malt extract (available in health food stores)
1 tbsp rolled oats
1/2 cup 7 grain cereal
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups 7 grain cereal
1/2 cups Toasted seeds (optional, but recommended)

Some preparatory steps:

If you want to turn this into seeded seven grain bread, which I recommend, add 1 more tsp malted barley to the recipe, and about 1/2 cup of toasted seeds. I use 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp flax seeds, 2 tbsp sesame seeds, and 1 tsp poppy seeds. Toast 'em in a hot dry skillet until fragrant. Set them aside and let them cool.

Cook 1/2 cup of the cereal in 1 1/2 cups water. Cook until the water is absorbed. Don't add salt, the bread has enough as it is. Once cooked, let the cereal cool to reasonable temperature. I've used both Arrowhead Mills and Bob's Red Mill cereals with good results. While the recipe calls for 7 grain cereal, I've used 5 and 10 grain cereals as well. You want a cereal that is intended to be cooked, that features whole grains, and that you like.

While some people grind the remaining 3/4 cup of cereal in a spice or coffee grinder, I haven't found it necessary to grind the rest of the cereal, and the bread has been just fine. However, if you have digestive issues triggered by seeds, it may help you to grind the cereal.

Once the seeds, if you're going to use them, and the cereal are cool, continue...

Mix the water, starter, barley malt, the cooked and cooled cereal, and the oil together. Add and mix in the ground cereal, whole wheat flour, and salt. Add the white flour. Add the seeds, if you are making seeded seven-grain bread - and remember to add an extra tsp of the malted barley extract.

Mix in the white flour, and knead until it's ready. The windowpane test is NOT appropriate here. The bread is a pain to knead, and because of the variable amount of water brought to the dough by the cooked cereal, it will take some adjustment in the amount of flour. Add a mixture of white and whole wheat flour. I have doubled the amount of flour in this recipe on some occasions. This should be a soft, wet dough, but trust your feeling for the dough, and go with the flow.

Form the dough into a ball, place into the cleaned and oil ed mixing bowl, turn the ball over, and then cover. Let the bread rise.

Once the bread has doubled in size, deflate the bread, knead again, and then shape into loaves. I like to let this bread rise in a basket to get a round loaf.

When loaves have risen, brush them with water and gently press the rolled oats into top of loaf.

Slash the loaves and bake at 400F for about 40 minutes.