Hearty Multigrain Bread
(courtesy of Jennifer Rachel Baumer. Makes 1 loaf)
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1⅓ cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 packet (or one yeast-measuring spoon, or 2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
1 cup sourdough starter (see recipe below)
2½ tablespoons dark rye flour
2½ tablespoons wheat germ
⅓ cup spelt
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon golden or dark flax seeds
1 tablespoon roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
⅓ cup toasted, coarsely chopped almonds
⅓ cup toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Before starting, spread almonds and hazelnuts on cookie sheet and place in 325 degree F oven for 20 minutes, then let cool before coarsely chopping. (Alternatively, stirring them constantly in a hot cast-iron frying pan also will toast them.)
In small bowl, mix yeast and honey and add ½ of the warm water. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir to dissolve yeast completely.
Mix 2 cups unbleached flour and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl; reserve ½ cup of the whole wheat flour. Mix in salt, seeds, rye, wheat germ, and spelt. Create a hole in the middle.
Mix the remainder of the warm water with the water/yeast/honey mixture and pour into the hole in dry ingredients. Add 1 cup of starter. Mix flour in from the edges, forming a sticky dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead 5 to 10 minutes, adding reserved wheat flour as needed. The dough should remain slightly sticky, not become dry or clumping. If it just sticks to your fingers as you knead but pulls back into itself, that's a good texture. If it sticks to you, add more flour, a sprinkle at a time (dusting your hands with it and then going back to kneading is a good way to avoid adding too much at once).
If the dough does get too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Before doing that, try kneading gently for a minute to see if the flour will incorporate. In our high desert climate, we have such low humidity it's easy to get too much flour in a bread recipe, but sometimes just kneading it will incorporate the flour and bring the texture back in line. Too much flour will create a dry, dense loaf.
Let the dough rest on the floured board while you clean the bowl of the sticky dough. Leave the kneaded dough in a warm, draft-free place, covered with a piece of wax paper, until doubled. At our high elevation, and depending on how active the starter is, this can take as little as 45 minutes or as long as an hour and a half.
When the dough is doubled, turn it out on a freshly cleaned and floured board and incorporate the nuts while "punching down" the dough. Don't overwork it; just knead in the hazelnuts and almonds. Shape the dough into one large, round loaf and place on an ungreased or parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet (it would probably do well on a baking stone, too). Let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F partway through the rise. Bake for 35 minutes and cool on a wire rack. The bread is best the first day, or toasted after that.
For sourdough starter (prepare 24 to 48 hours before making the bread):
1 packet active dry yeast (or one yeast-measuring spoon, or 2¼ teaspoons yeast; not rapid rise)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups warm water
Stir yeast into flour in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in warm water and mix until it's a smooth, soupy paste. Cover loosely with a sheet of wax paper and leave undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours until actively bubbly. If it never bubbles or becomes active, start over. If, after using it for the bread, you want to keep it, feed it another cup of flour and 1 cup warm water, stir into a paste, and store in covered jar in refrigerator.