This is less of a recipe and more of a general schema; I don't know that I've ever made this exactly the same way twice. I used to make it more frequently when I used to eat multigrain porridge more regularly. Ironically, that very folksy food became less practical for daily consumption and slipped off the menu after I ditched the microwave (or, more specifically, stopped living with the roommate that had one). The combinations of grains and flours depends on what I have and what I feel like at the time. Common features are brown rice, steel-cut oats, buckwheat, barley and wheat berries. I also have a multigrain hot cereal blend with flaxseed from the bulk section at the co-op that I top things off with.
breads containing whole or cracked grains make for uncannily wet baker's percentages). A well-hydrated dough also makes for a boldly crusty bread.
Like many good bread recipes, this one takes a lot of time start to finish, but very little active time. It makes it an excellent project for a rainy day, or, as it were, for a rainy and windy one.
Bonus: Get Pumped up to Bake!The bread that French baker Vincent Talleu is making in his video is completely different from this one, but he exhibits such joy in baking that it makes a good watch to get you all pumped up to make bread of any kind.
Porridge Breadvegan, makes two moderately-sized loaves or one very large loaf
- 4 c. cooked grain (1 c. dry grain : 3 c. water)
- 1 Tblsp. whole cumin
- 1 Tblsp. whole caraway
- 1 c. nuts & seeds
- 1 Tblsp. kosher salt
- 1 c. water
- 1 Tblsp. active dry yeast
- 1 c. flour
- approx. 6 c. mixed flours
Meanwhile, get out your cup measure again and fill it up with a blend of nuts and seeds. I really like sunflower and sesame seeds, but have been known to include walnut pieces or slivered almonds. You can put in less of this or none at all without it changing the recipe significantly if you have dietary restrictions or have no nuts or seeds hanging around, but it really adds a lot to the bread. Add the seeds, salt, cumin and caraway seeds to the cereal in the pot and stir together. Again, if you don't have or don't like cumin or caraway, they're not essential, but I really like them. The salt, on the other hand, is important to controlling the rise of the bread and less negotiable. I typically include the same volume of salt as yeast, but if you're worried about salt you could get away with 2 teaspoons instead of a whole tablespoon.
Once the dough has risen, flour your work surface again and scrape the dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few turns to push out the air. If making two loaves, divide dough in half with a bench scraper or large knife. For each loaf, fold the dough over several times and then form into a boule (French for "ball"). This video demonstrates how to form your dough into a boule far more efficiently and effectively than I could explain it in words. Note that the baker in the video finished by placing the boule into a basket to proof. Basket proofing is essential for helping a wet dough like this one keep its shape during the final rise; otherwise you risk having a thin, flat loaf. Luckily, one does not need purpose-designed baskets for proofing (mine, pictured farther above, weren't). Any small basket that you don't mind getting a little floury can be lined with a clean sack-cloth towel (woven, not terrycloth!), floured thoroughly and used for proofing. Others have had success lining a colander or even a bowl with a floured cloth and using it for a proofing basket. Baskets and colanders have the advantage of letting the dough breathe a little more, but a bowl will do in a pinch. For more info, this discussion thread contains several people's descriptions of their improvised proofing baskets. The dough's second rise will take somewhat less time (45-60 minutes).