Aunt Charlotte's Five Grain Bread
1 cup warm water
1 packet of yeast
sprinkle of sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey (local honey is great for building immunities
to the pollen and other allergens specific to your environment)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup flax seed meal
1/3 rye flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Extra whole wheat flour for kneading, 1/4 cup at a time
First, remember, I warned you - it’s complicated.
Sprinkle sugar over warm water in a large bowl, stir, then add yeast. Let sit until the yeast begins to bubble, around 10 minutes. Pour boiling water over oats and let stand for ten minutes. Melt butter in a sauce pan with the milk. Remove from heat. Add oil, honey, and molasses to the milk mixture. When the yeast is ready, stir the milk mixture into the water and yeast.
Whisk together the next seven ingredients. Begin adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients one cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined. When all the flour is added, it is time to knead. If the mixture is still very sticky and wet, stir in an additional 1/4 cup of flour. Sprinkle a bread board with flour and a handful of sunflower seeds. Begin to knead the bread, adding flour and sunflower seeds as needed. The flour should be dusted onto the board. The bread should absorb the flour and sunflower seeds from the bottom as you knead.
Time saving tip: Once you have added the flour, before kneading, you can put the bread into a mixing bowl and use the bread paddle of a heavy duty mixer to get the dough to the right consistency - moist and elastic - adding 1/4 cup of whole wheat
flour at a time. When thoroughly mixed put the dough on a bread board and knead with your hands for at least five minutes. Bread tastes better when it has a human touch.
Knead with flips, turns, and punches. Put all of your weight into the heels of your hands and push and flip again. Knead until the bread is smooth and elastic. Put in a bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise until doubled in size - 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Punch down dough and either put in a loaf pan or mold into desired shape. Cover and put in a warm dark place until it rises again, about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake bread around 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Bread should be slightly brown on top. Let rest 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan.
This is a hearty, stand alone bread that can be a filling meal with just a slather of butter. But it makes a wonderful sandwich or panini and will hold its own dunked into a thick bowl of soup.
It is hard to describe when you have just the right amount of flour but a few trials and errors will eventually lead to a wonderful loaf of bread. You may want to start with a basic whole wheat recipe and work your way up to Aunt Charlotte’s fiber-packed loaf. Eating bread may go against the grain in our no-carb, gluten free culture, but if you are using organic, whole ingredients, I can’t imagine eating anything healthier or more wholesome. I have always said I was a peasant in a past life. I would be quite happy eating only stews, soups, beer, and bread. And of course a pat of butter or two.
Bread machine adaptation:
Mix oatmeal and boiling water and set aside for ten minutes. Begin by pouring the hot water, followed by all wet ingredients (no yeast yet) into the bread machine insert. Follow with oatmeal, salt, and flours. Make a small well in the top and add 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Set container in the bread machine and put it on the whole wheat setting for a 2 LB loaf. Press start. Then wait while your house fills with the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked bread.
Tips from the test kitchen: Kneading is most enjoyable while listening to your favorite soul-filling music - opera, rock, or a good old country ballad. Singing along is encouraged. Again, no cat on the counter. They are all about the kneading.