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Multigrain No-Knead Bread

(recipe, Ellen Jackson)


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Introduction

Seasoned baker Ellen Jackson combined whole-grain flours and seeds with the principles of No-Knead Bread to come up with this loaf. Though the famous Sullivan Street Bakery bread calls for instant yeast, Jackson recommends blooming, or proofing, active dry yeast for her loaf.

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups lukewarm water
  2. ½ tsp. active dry yeast
  3. 2 Tbsp. barley-malt syrup, honey, or molasses (see Note)
  4. 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  5. 1 cup light rye flour
  6. 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  7. 1 Tbsp. salt
  8. 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  9. ¼ cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
  10. 2 Tbsp. flaxseeds
  11. Wheat bran or cornmeal

Steps

  1. Combine the water, yeast, and sweetener in a large bowl. Allow the yeast to bloom (proof) while, in another bowl, you combine the flours with the salt and the seeds.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the yeast mixture and stir until blended with a wooden spoon; the dough will be extremely sticky and shaggy. Cover the bowl with a cloth or piece of plastic wrap and let it rest between 12 and 20 hours at room temperature. The dough is ready when its surface is speckled with air bubbles.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Dust the top of the dough with some more flour and fold it over on itself a couple of times. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, line a large bowl or colander with a cotton kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and generously coat it with wheat bran or cornmeal.
  5. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, pick up the dough and gently and quickly shape it into a ball. Put the ball into the prepared kitchen towel, seam-side up. (It’s OK if it looks messy and/or misshapen.) Cover the dough with another flour-dusted towel and let it rise for 1½ hours.
  6. After 1½ hours, place a 6-to-8-quart heavy pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes while the oven is preheating.
  7. The dough is ready to bake when it has more than doubled in size and springs back lazily when poked. Carefully remove the hot pot from the oven. Slip your hand under the kitchen towel holding the dough, so that you are cradling the loaf in your palm. In one sure, confident motion, flip the dough into the pot, with the seam side headed for the bottom.
  8. Using potholders — remember, the pan is hot — shake the pot to straighten out or redistribute the dough if necessary. Cover the pot with a lid, return it to the oven, and reduce the heat to 450 degrees.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and rotate the pan. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is deeply browned. If you're uncertain whether the bread is done or not, carefully turn the loaf out of the pan; if the bottom is quite dark (just short of burned) and sounds hollow when you thump or knock it, it's ready.
  10. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Note

Look for barley-malt syrup in the baking or health-food section of the store, near the molasses and honey. With a color somewhere between honey and molasses, it has greater depth of flavor and less sweetness, enhancing the yeasty, malty flavor of bread. Store whole-grain flours in the freezer unless you use them within four to six weeks. Like nuts, seeds should be refrigerated to prevent them from becoming rancid. Read more about Ellen Jackson's bread experiments in "All you knead."