I can’t help it. The minute I feel a hint of coolness in the air–just the barest hint of autumn’s smokiness–I get excited. Don’t get me wrong. I love spring and summer. I really, really do. Long warm summer nights on the patio, crisp and fresh spring days, these are so enjoyable and all have their own pleasures. But fall excites me and motivates me. It feels like the true new year, the real fresh start. The sleepy and warm days of summer narrow into possibilities and move forward into something new and wholly unexpected.
Fall is also the best time to cook. Between fall and Christmas is when I never tire of being in the kitchen (okay, famous last words), and when it all feels inspiring and with purpose and expectation. Harvest abounds, family feasts are on the calendar, and long afternoons of apple picking and hiking rev the appetite.
I might be jumping the gun a bit, you summer-lovers protest. Okay, no doubt. But I can’t rein it in–sorry!
Homemade bread baking is the perfect way to start spending some more quality time in the kitchen. I did have a bread machine at one point, but it didn’t do too much for me. What I enjoy most about bread baking is the tactile-ness of getting your hands into the dough. The scent of the yeast. Setting up the dough to rise in a big bowl underneath a cute checkered cloth. It feels like a bit of poetry in action.
If you’re looking for an easy (soooo easy!) and healthy bread recipe that will perfectly accompany your hearty fall stews, or a simple lunch of sharp cheddar cheese and a bright crisp apple, this bread will do it. I got it off the Bob’s Red Mill site, as I had some of their 10-Grain Hot Cereal that I thought would go really well into a hearty bread loaf. The recipe baked up two generous loaves; we kept one out and it kept really well all week, and froze the other one.
10-Grain Multi-Grain Bread
Yields 2 loaves (12 slices each)
This multi-grain bread is adapted from one on Bob’s Red Mill website. It makes delicious sandwiches, morning toast, or all-around perfect snacking bread. The best part is that making it is so very easy, and it has a great nutritional profile.
3 cups all-purpose white flour
1 cup kamut (or spelt or rye) flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Hot Cereal (I think any multi-grain hot cereal blend would work here, or even plain old-fashioned oats)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
5 tsp instant yeast (2 packages)
3 cups warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
Combine all of the above dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and olive oil, mixing by hand until ingredients are blended. Let rest 5 minutes for grains to absorb moisture.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding flour until the dough is soft yet sticky. Roll into a ball and let rise in a greased bowl and cover for 50 minutes. Punch down and let rise another 5 minutes.
Knead into 2 long loaves, roll in coarse cracked pepper and sea salt, and place on a baking sheet. Make slits on the top of the loaves with a sharp knife. Let rise 40 minutes. Cook in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow. Remove to cool on a wire rack. This bread freezes well.
Per 1 slice of 24 (63g): Calories 122; Total Fat 1.4g 2%; Total Carbohydrate 23.8g 7%; Dietary Fiber 2.5g 10%; Sugars 0.5g; Protein 4.1g 8%