multigrain bread

I was recently—as in yesterday—pointed in the direction of a series newly available for streaming on netflix. Four products get manufactured in each episode of How it’s Made. It’s utterly fascinating, and the kids and I now boast a two-day-old ritual of watching one episode after lunch, like an informational dessert. And then the kids watch it again in the evening because they just have to show their papa.

Yesterday, we witnessed the production of tinfoil, contact lenses, bread, and snow boards. Today, it was CDs, pantyhose, mozzarella cheese, and florescent lights.

That factory bread bothered me. The voice over dude called it a multigrain bread, but it was as white as a sheet of paper. I was all like, Are you kidding me? and Where in the bloomin’ world do they get off calling THAT pasty stuff multigrain? Get OUT.

Maybe it was a mixture of many glorious grains THAT JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, COLOR, AND TEXTURE BLEACHED, PRESSED, AND PROCESSED OUT OF THEM. I really have no idea. So, you know, whatever.

But those plastic bags of nutritious bread wannabees got me to lusting after real multigrain bread—soft bread flecked with bits of germ and tasting of a whole slew of grains. So I took Bernard Clayton’s (I’m loving this new book) Cuban bread—an all-white (oops, I’m guilty), chewy-sweet affair that I’d already made a couple times—and bastardized it into something much more hippie and wholesome and mother earthy-like.

I sure showed them. Take THAT, you smarty pants factory. All your bells and whistles and you STILL can’t hit the mark, ha!

However, grainy loveliness aside, what’s so intriguing about this bread is the process. It’s fast, as in blink-your-eyes-once-and-you’re-done fast.

The steps are as follows:

a. mix up the dough
b. let it rise
c. shape it
d. set a pan of boiling water on the bottom oven rack
e. put the bread in the cold oven and turn it on to 400 degrees

Forty minutes later, you have yourself two gorgeous, crackling boules cooling on the kitchen table. Amen, hallelujah, and pass the butter. From start to finish, it takes no more than two hours.

It’s so good, it disappears right speedy quick, too.

My family can put away both loaves at one meal, no problem.

Multigrain Bread
With inspiration from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

1 cup multigrain mix (see below)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 ½ cups bread flour, plus more as needed
2 scant tablespoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups hot tap water (but not so hot it will kill the yeast)
cornmeal, for dusting

Mix together all of the ingredients—except for one of the cups of the white flour. Once well combined, add the remaining flour. Knead for 3-5 minutes. Set the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

Fill your tea kettle with water and bring to a boil.

While the water is coming to a boil, turn the dough out on to a floured surface. Cut in two pieces and shape into round boules (or long loaves, if you prefer). Place the boules on a buttered baking sheet that’s been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Dust the loaves with flour. Using a knife, slash an X in the top of each loaf.

Pour the boiling water into a baking pan and set it on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the bread on the rack above it. Close the oven door and turn the oven to 400 degrees. After 30 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the loaves are burnished and crusty.

Multigrain Flour Mix
From Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

Note: this recipe was also posted here.

Once you start adding this mix to your baked goods, you’ll want to make everything multigrain, so I highly recommend doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling this recipe. It adds a sweetness and flavor that plain old whole wheat does not have. I guess that’s the point.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup barley flour
½ cup each millet flour and rye flour

Pack into glass jars and store in the freezer.

This same time, years previous: chuck roast braised in red wine, hitting puberty, peanut noodles, on not wanting


  • Gretchen

    Jennifer, my loaf pans are average size, and I was thinking that the water may have been too hot. It rises beautifully in the bowl in a turned-off oven, though.

  • Gretchen

    I made this recipe, but put it into loaf pans to rise. It never rose beyond the top of the glass loaf pans. Otherwise, it tastes great. Please help!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Did you follow the same process—putting it straight into a cold oven? And did it double in size (because I don't know how big your loave pans are…)? Is your yeast fresh? Was your water too hot? Just brainstorming here….

  • Anonymous

    I have a Decor oven and they are adamant about preheating the oven prior to baking. (Excessive browning if you put food in it too soon) Will it still work with a preheated oven?
    I've been searching for a multi-grain recipe and so excited to try your recipe. I also want to try making multi-grain crackers. Kirchhoff's Bakery in Paducah, KY makes the most wonderful M.G. crackers that go well
    with the Wild Rice, Artichoke and Chicken soup served on Thursdays.
    Thank you

  • Anonymous

    The bread turned out great. Fun to make, so fast. I've never baked with the cold oven method. I still prefer my tangy sourdough breads, but this made great toast and kept longer than I thought it would. Thanks for the whole-grain recipe.

  • Zoë

    I need to get me some millet and rye flours ASAP. Could I just buy the grains and grind them myself? I like doing that since the grains store longer than the flours.

    Anonymous, if you are still reading these comments, I also recommend the Komo Duett grain mill. It's expensive but looks gorgeous on the counter and grinds flour as well as flakes oats. I've used it practically every day for the last 3 years.

  • Peggy

    Do you ever mill all of your own flours? What about the quinoa? Have you ever tried milling it? My family already loves the Cuban bread so now I think we will have to add this grain mix into our repertoire. Do you ever use your mixed grains in pancakes or waffles? Thanks!

    • Jennifer Jo

      I found millet flour at Red Front. It was expensive, but not terrible—not like quinoa flour: 11 bucks a pound (I didn't buy it). The other flours come from either Red Front or Frankferd Farms. The co-op downtown has some different ones, too.

  • Anonymous

    I have everything for the multigrain flour mix, except barley flour. Do you think I could replace the barley with more millet and oat or rye?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Barley has a lot of protein but not much gluten. Rye is an all-around good flour, though it, too, has less gluten. Millet has no gluten but good flavor. So…I think your safest bet would be to sub some rye or more whole wheat for the barley—though the other ones may work just as well. I'm new at using all these grains, so these are just guesses.

    • Anonymous

      I had all the whole grains in my pantry and used my blender to grind them up. I'll try the bread recipe tomorrow, replacing rye flour with pumpernickel. Thanks for the recipe.

  • mkoko1

    Thank you for this recipe and the whole grain mixture — never thought to keep it jars in the freezer! Brilliant!
    Will be making this as soon as I gather up all the flours.

  • Margo

    I would LOVE to add another 2 hour bread to my rotation. Thanks. In the winter, our most common meal is bread and soup. Just made dill bread yesterday to go with lima bean chowder.

  • Janejef

    I hope someone is giving credit to James Beard–Cuban bread appears in his "Beard on Bread". Great recipe, and thanks for the update with good grains!

  • Beth Brubaker

    We have this great book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and I LOVE it! Mix, cover lightly and let rise, then stick it in the fridge for up to a week (it says two weeks, but I never get that Peasant Bread is a favorite, and so is Olive oil bread- THAT makes awesome pizza crust!
    I live in the city, and people here depend on bread makers- they can't fathom that I Actually. Touch. The. Dough. But they don't see it as a time saver- I can do 4-8 loaves in the time it takes for that dumb machine to make ONE, and I don't have to remember to take out that mixer thingie that will bake into the loaf if I forget, leaving a hole the size of a Buick when I try to remove the bread.
    I say kudos to us who Actually. Touch. The. Dough. and get a rise out of baking old school! Let's eat!*

    *actually, you and my family can eat it all for me- I found out last year I am sensitive to wheat and can't eat anything with gluten in it!

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