I have had a love affair with baking since I was a kid. My Mom taught me to bake when I was in 4-H. My first project was chocolate chip cookies. I moved on to yeast breads when I was a little older, and at one point I even had a grand champion baking project of Swedish cinnamon twists. I got really interested in baking artisan bread when I was in college, and in 2013 I baked my own bread all year, using a bread machine to knead and then shaping the loaves by hand.
Recently I’ve wanted to get back into more habitual baking, and I was given a bucket of cracked 9-grain mix by my wonderful aunt and uncle (Thanks Mike & Joan!) and so I have been wanting to put it to use with my bread machine for mixing & rising + hand shaping formula. This requires the least hands on time for me and is one of my favorite ways to bake. I adapted this recipe from an old thrift-store book called The Bread Machine Cookbook: Part II.
This was not the perfect attempt, but I’m a human being and I don’t want to post only perfect things in this space. Becoming a seasoned baker, cook, and artist is about experience and that includes making mistakes and fumbling around trying to get things right. The first time I made this loaf I made a mistake: I soaked the cracked grains in liquid, drained them, and then added the liquid for the recipe. The dough was extremely sticky because of all that extra liquid in my grains. I could tell this in the bread machine, but I refrained from adding more than a half-cup of extra flour because I wasn’t sure how the cracked grains would behave during the mixing and rising process. The result was an extremely dense loaf that never really tasted baked (it was still yummy toasted). The second time I made it, I didn’t even opt to soak the grains, which made for a really chewy, wonderful texture. But the loaf was a bit crumbly after a day or two. I think it could have used a touch more liquid. 🙂 This is the beauty of baking. Many would say it is a science, and I agree to some extent. Baking requires far more precision than cooking. Adding an extra pinch of something can throw off the whole ratio. If you are recipe altering or trying to create your own, sometimes you have to try it a few times and keep adjusting it until you get a break that is the texture that you want. If you use a bread machine or a mixer, you have to know how to read the signs that it is too wet or too dry. Maybe in the future I should do a post on how to diagnose common baking problems? 🙂
For now, here is the recipe for my cracked 9-grain bread. It can be kneaded by hand, mixed and kneaded in a stand mixer, or put in the bread machine on the dough or manual cycle, the way I did it.
Cracked 9-grain bread
Makes one loaf
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I use rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
1 cup cracked 9-grain mixture or any cracked grain mixture (like cracked wheat or barley)
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
1 tsp dough enhancer (optional)
All bread machines have a recommended order for you to add your ingredients. Mine starts with yeast, so my instructions will keep that in mind. However, you’re welcome to make whatever adjustments you’d like.
Add yeast to the bowl of bread machine. Combine water, oil, and honey, and add slowly to yeast. Now you have options. If you would like a chewier texture in your grains (like me), don’t soak your cracked grains. If you’d rather it be softer and less chewy, now’s the time to add your grains to the yeast/water/honey/oil and let it soak for about an hour before continuing. Otherwise, just add the grains, oats, flour, salt, gluten, and dough enhancer, and set the bread machine for the dough cycle, starting it.
When the cycle is done, punch down dough and turn out on a floured board. Shape into a loaf and put in your bread pan. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until brown. The bread should have a dry crust, and the bread should sound hollow when thumped from the bottom. You can also insert an instant read thermometer. If it is 190 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be done.
Enjoy! I mixed some honey and chopped rosemary into butter and spread it on the fresh bread. Yum!
Happy Monday wonderful friends!