I have been learning to be a good cook for many decades, but I have never been a baker. I would always say that I “will learn to bake when I’m retired”. But I started making bread in 2011. Our small resort town has no resource for good bread, sadly, so it simply forced my hand. After futzing around for a while trying to make a simply perfect everyday dinner bread, I settled in on this beauty. I have a bread machine that makes it all very easy, but I look forward to shaping and braiding breads with my own hands in the future. In the meantime, this is simply heavenly. And it’s all amazingly healthy too, like eating pure vitality.
I buy organic and the freshest of all these ingredients from the big bulk bins at Whole Foods or other health food store. Another handy trick my friend Jim taught me: I make individual quart, sandwich and snack bags with the various ingredients. Then, when ready to bake the bread, I just measure the water and butter and the rest is readily at my hand. One mess putting it all together, then a dozen loaves easily.
Perfect plain, it’s also nice with a topping. Sometimes, with an egg wash on the top just before baking, I top with 1/2 cup steel cut oats. Sometimes I coat it with a course salt.
Slice for the dinner table, make grilled cheese and paninis, cut into squares and serve with homemade hummus.
4 1/4 cups white unbleached whole wheat flour or white unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 cup tepid water (80 degrees)
2 T, divided into 1/2 tsp pieces, unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp vital wheat gluten
1 cup steel cut oats
6 T buttermilk powder
2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup wheat germ, 1/2 cup ground flax seed, 1/4 cup whole chia seed, 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seed, 1/4 cup sunflower seed, 1 T black poppy seed, 1 tsp caraway seed, 1 T sesame seed optional: fennel seed (adds slightly anise flavor)
Let cool on a wire rack 20 minutes before slicing. Make sure to slice off a piece of the heel, while still warm, slather in butter and stand right there and eat it.