Molenburg Bread Recipe - US/Canadian version

1/4 cup Red Mill whole grain Bulgar
1/4 cup Red Mill steel cut Oats
   
200 ml Boiling Water
150 ml Cold Water
3 tsp (not heaped) Active Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar/Honey/Golden Syrup/Barley Malt/Molasses
   
2 1/2 cups Flour   (I use unbleached, use any NON refined flour)
1/2 cup Spelt Flour   (or Wholemeal/Cornflour/Rye flour)
1 Tsp Milk Powder   (Skim/Buttermilk)
1 Tsp Gluten
1 Tsp Oil   (I use Light Olive)
   
1 large or
2 small
Bread tins (my favourite are the soft Silicone ones)
   

Bake

220C / 425F for 10 minutes
180C / 350F for 30-35 minutes
   

Double this recipe for 2-3 larger loaves

I've put the ingredients above into three batches.

Start by soaking the two grains in boiling water at least overnight. They will soften and swell. If you forget and leave them for a few days (temperature dependent) it may begin to ferment. Your nose will tell you. Dump it and start again.

Ready to bake?
Put your sweetening agent in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Stir until your sweetener has dissolved. Add the salt and cold water. Test temperature with a finger. It should be near blood temperature. Too hot and you may kill the yeast. Now add the yeast. Keep this mix separate until the yeast has activated and the top of the water is frothy.
NB: You keep this mix apart so that if the yeast is old or stale and fails to activate, you only have to throw away some water and salt, not your whole mix.

Once the yeast has activated, you can add the grain mix to it and stir again.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Don't get carried away stirring, the kneading process will ensure it's all mixed. Add the wet mix. Mix together. You should have a very sloppy mix that requires more flour.
NB: I make the bread sloppy to start - it's far easier to add flour than it is to try and add water to a hard/dry mix. WAY easier.

Add some extra flour while mix still in bowl, adding and stirring until the mix is tacky but not sticky. Sprinkle some flour on the bench and tip dough onto bench. Sprinkle a little flour on top, check the time, and begin kneading. Ten minutes, no less. Don't try to knead with your hands only. Use your body weight to lean into the dough, kneading the mix with the heal of your palm. Add flour carefully, slowly. To my mind it is just right when it sticks to your hand without leaving anything behind.
Remember, don't over flour. enough to stop it sticking to the counter top and your hands. This is one part you'll have to work out for yourself. Experience will tell you when it's right.

Ok. Your ten minutes of kneading is up. The blob of bread will look something like this.

 


 

Place entire mix in an oiled bowl and cover with clean tea towel. Set aside until mix has doubled in size, called proving. Time will be temperature dependent.

Once proved, Tip mix onto counter top and knock back, by that I mean knead briefly to get mix back to original size. If using one large tin, shape dough as preferred and put into oiled/greased tin to rise. If using smaller tins or making shapes, cut to size and shape. I tend to roll the 'cut' edge inside the mix before placing in tin. Over to you. 

Put aside, covered with the trusty tea towel until dough has risen. (See notes below re rising times/temperatures)

Preheat oven to 220C / 425F and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 180C / 350F for a further 30-35 minutes. Remove. Bread should sound hollow if tapped on the bottom with your knuckles. Put on wire tray to cool. I brush a little butter over the top as soon as it comes out the oven.

If you want a crusty loaf, spray water mist into the oven as the loaf cooks. The humid environment forms a crusty skin.
Once cooled a little, slice and eat. If you eat it hot out of the oven you can get a little tummy ache. It's almost worth it. Delicious.                

*****
Extra notes

Never follow the recipe slavishly - play, change ingredients, experiment. Have FUN. I never make the bread the same way. You can change almost anything in the recipe but don't go overboard. Want to try something? Do one thing this time, another next time, or you'll never know which one worked and which one bombed. And it can bomb. I've had loaves of bread that could break a car windshield.

Temperatures in room - The warmer the room, the quicker the bread should rise. Sounds good?
There's a catch. Quick rising will give you an open, airy bread, slow rising a finer textured bread.

Never cut short the kneading time. The kneading 'trains' the gluten in the bread to stretch, so when it rises the gluten forms long strands full of air pockets. By the same token, don't over knead after proving and before placing in tins for the second rise. Just enough to knock the proved bread back to size.  

Another note on kneading. I prefer a wooden counter top. You can use anything BUT the cold of granite and marble can knock the yeast back. This may be a good thing to slow down rising. You'll need to experiment with your own conditions.

You can add extra sweetener (I like barley malt) BUT you have to add extra salt to match. Why? Yeast feeds on sugar, but like a child, give them some sweets and they go hyper. Give them too much and they end up lying on their backs on the floor looking sick. Your yeast will react exactly the same way. The extra salt keeps the balance.

Play with shapes and sizes. This is a plait (below). You can make loaves, bun, rolls - you're only held back by your own imagination.

I tend to make a double batch, then freeze the extra. I cut each loaf in half, wrap it in tinfoil and freeze. That way I always have fresh bread available. It toasts beautifully. Slap on butter and peanut butter and you've got the food of the gods.

And I say it again, HAVE FUN. If you don't have the odd bread making disaster, you're not playing with the ingredients or having enough fun.