How to make a multigrain bread
I formulated the Swiss Muesli Bread 15 years ago as I was unable to find a loaf of bread that is both healthy and tasty for my family.
Since then, every fortnight I will prepare a dozen loaves and freeze it so that my family can enjoy wholesome breads every day. Sometimes, I will use walnuts and chia seeds to increase the Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet.
Did you know that bread stales very fast at refrigeration temperature of 1 – 5°C? In order to maintain the freshness of your breads, it is better to keep them in the freezer and not in the fridge. Once the bread is thawed, it can be consumed without further heating. Try it at home.
I mix my own organic multigrain and seeds, using equal amounts of seeds and grains that I fancy. It is quite easy to find organic flaxseed, sesame seed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, millet, rolled oats and wheat bran, barley bran or oat bran in the supermarket. Blending your own mixture is that simple.
The mixture of grains and seeds provide a lot of fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and a whole spectrum of minerals which will help in lowering cholesterol and also boost our metabolism leading to good health.
Addition of dried apricot, cranberries, raisins and almonds further increases the nutritional value of the bread.
The method used to make this bread is called the sponge and dough process.
This method requires the preparation of the sponge, three hours before the mixing of the dough begins. You can modify the process by fermenting the sponge for one hour at room temperature and leaving it in the fridge until tomorrow.
The long fermentation process produces breads with excellent flavour, softness and keeping quality due to the production of esters and acids by the yeasts.
The sponge is very easy to prepare as it consists of only three ingredients. Bread flour, instant active dry yeast and cold water. Just premix the flour and the yeast and then add cold water.
Knead on slow speed for five minutes until it forms a dough ball. The consistency of the sponge should be slightly rough, cold and underdeveloped. After three hours of fermentation on the kitchen table it will be transformed into a softer and more flavourful sponge. You can now use it to make the dough.
It is necessary to add dry wheat gluten flour to give additional strength to the dough to increase its volume.
This is easily obtained from specialist baking ingredient shops like Pastry Pro with branches all over Malaysia.
Ice cold water is a must when mixing dough in Malaysia so that the dough can be developed properly without being soft and sticky.
Bread improvers are used by bakers to strengthen the dough, giving bread a good texture and volume. You can replace it with half a tablet of Vitamin C, dissolved in water.
I hope this will get you started on making a wholesome loaf of bread for your family. I must warn you, once you taste this bread you will be hooked for life.
I cannot describe how nice the texture, taste and aroma of this bread is. To savour this multigrain bread, try making it at home. A similar good tasting bread you can try is the German Muesli Bread. Happy baking!
Don Yong is the chairman of the Malaysian Institute of Baking. He is also a master-baker, author and a self-confessed pastry lover.
If you have decided to start baking and do not know where to start, why not attend one of our baking workshops. The baking workshops are conducted by Don Yong. For details, go to www.kuali.com/bakewithkuali/.
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