Multigrain bread

Mulitgrain Bread/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

A multigrain bread recipe will open the new year for a reason.  Will Turnage (aka @wubbahed), Donna and I finished and submitted to Apple last week a bread baking app for iPad.  It’s time finally to act on a fascinating email I got from a baker in North Carolina about bagel making.  And Shuna privately but with her own inimitable force and clarity begged to differ on my take on English Muffins.  And just yesterday a reader emailed, pleading for a good all-purpose gluten-free bread recipe.

So it’s now officially bread baking month here, when the cold and early darkness are subdued by a hot heart and hands-on kitchen work.  (And yes, kneading should be a part of the process—it’s part of the goodness of bread, mediation through kneading. It’s also fun.)  The holidays are over and we have some time.  And there’s no better season than winter to have the smell of fresh baked bread in the house, to hear in a quiet clean kitchen the sound of a bread crust crackling as it cools.

I’m asking readers to bake bread.  Take pictures and post them on my facebook page (this way there will be a collection of them in one place, and they’ll also go out to all your friends). I’d be grateful if you forwarded this post to bread baking blogs to begin a conversation, and to tell me what bread baking blogs you like so that I can create a good list of them in my blog links.  This month I’ll be featuring bagels, gluten-free breads, a revised English Muffin recipe and more. (And don’t worry you non-bakers, I’ve got some protein posts as well.  And maybe a rant.  It’s been a while!)

The following multigrain recipe is a bread I developed for the Bread Baking Basics app and it was such a surprise, I’m eager to post it here.  A surprise on many levels.  The way whole grains become seamlessly incorporated.  How un-dense, how un-heavy this was relative to what I expected.  How flavorful and hearty it tasted and ate.  The crust alone is as satisfying as a pretzel.  A slice of this with some hot lentil soup would make a great winter meal (or better, a slice toasted, rubbed with garlic and buttered).  I love this combination of whole grains—I think all breads need some plain white bread flour or they become too dense—but you can experiment with all different kinds of grains and flours by weight if you wish.

Multigrain Bread

  • 8 ounces/240 grams bread flour
  • 4 ounces/120 grams whole wheat flour
  • 3 ounces/90 grams rolled oats
  • 3 ounces/90 grams corn grits
  • 2 ounces/60 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1 ounce/30 grams flax seeds
  • 12 ounces/340 grams water
  • 2 teaspoons/10 grams kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams active dry yeast (if you need a fast rise, you can double this)
  • sunflour seeds, more rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, as needed for garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients, except for the garnish, in the bowl of a standing mixer (or any bowl if you’re mixing by hand).  Mix and knead the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  You should be able to stretch the dough to translucency without tearing it.
  2. Let the dough rise in the bowl, covered, till it’s doubled in size, at least two ours and as many as four.
  3. Knead the dough to force out gas and redistribute the yeast.  Let it rest for ten minutes covered with a towel.
  4. Ready a banneton or put a kitchen cloth or cotton napkin in a bowl.  Dust it with some of the buckwheat flour, a pinch of oats and seeds as you wish.
  5. Shape the dough: push it back and forth on your countertop between your hands, spinning it as you do to create a tighter and tighter ball.
  6. Put the dough top side down into the prepared banneton or cloth-lined bowl. Cover with a towel and let it rise for a good hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  If you’re baking on a sheet pan, put this in the oven as well.
  8. When the second rise is done, upend the dough onto your baking surface, slash it 3 or 4 times with a sharp knive and bake for a half hour.  Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. and continue baking till done, another 15 to 30 minutes.  (If you’re unsure about doneness, use a thermometer and remove the dough when its internal temperature is 200 degrees.

Yield: one 2-pound loaf

If you liked this Multigrain Bread recipe, check out these other links:

<> © <> Michael Ruhlman. Photo © <> Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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74 Wonderful responses to “Bread Baking Month: Multigrain Boule”

  • Lindsay at Kitchen Operas

    Woohoo! I’m glad it’s bread month! I hope you take Monica Bhide up on her tweet-offer for the curry leaf bread, yum!

    Thanks for the inspiration to get another loaf or two going!

  • *susan*

    Well tested recipes can be found at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/. These recipes are generally fool proof but don’t use high hydration or long rise times so the flavors aren’t as “mature.” However, a great place to start your bread investigations.

  • Laura

    I’ve been on a bread making kick lately as well. I was wondering if you have ever made bread out of almond meal? The reason I’m asking is because I’m having a dinner party next month with a “Primal” theme – meaning no grains. I had a trial run with the almond bread, and the result was sad, it was like a really bad quiche. This may lean in the realm of gluten-free, too. Any ideas?

    • Mantonat

      I’m not sure if it’s possible to make bread without any type of grain; even gluten-free recipes usually use rice and/or corn. You may want to check out some GF recipes to see what ingredients are used to approximate a good porous texture and crumb without wheat. Some non-grain options include coconut flour, tapioca starch, chickpea flour, and fava bean flour. You’ll probably need some xanthan too.

      • Laura

        Well, I think I could get away with coconut and tapioca. Thank you for the suggestion! My friend leads a primal lifestyle – who gave me the idea for the party – says that anything derived from beans can’t be used. Oy vey.
        It’s probably going to take some practice, so I predict I’ll be pulling some crazy things out of my oven.

  • Melleah

    I cannot wait for the bagel post! I have tried to make them at home a couple of times (even ordered the high-gluton flour), but have never quite replicated the flavor.
    Two thumbs up for bread baking month!

  • Sarah C.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for replacing the corn grits with something else? I’m allergic to corn but would really like to try this recipe out. TIA!

    • Bruce E.

      Sarah, you can choose any grain that you wish to replace the corn grits. Spelt, quinoa, etc., just so long as your staying within the amounts. I sub out all the time, depending on what is available in the shop.

    • Andrew

      Millet would work as a corn substitute and give a similar color, appearance, and texture.

  • lisadelrio

    What perfect timing! One of my resolutions is to break out of my pain a l’ancienne rut. I got a banneton for Christmas so I think I’ll try this recipe today.

  • Bread Angel

    I am really interested in the iPad app. Please let us know when it is available.

    Also, thanks for including metric weights in your recipes. A scale and a thermometer are essential for me to make good bread.

    • Peggy

      This is my 1st visit to this blog & I have very little experience baking bread but would like to learn more. I have never weighed my ingredients for baking. Can someone explain a bit about this? What is the advantage over “measuring”, if any? Is it about accuracy? Any info or suggestions would be helpful to me.

  • Sandra McKenzie

    Perfect timing! I just got a bag of rye flour yesterday because I’m so frustrated at the lack of good rye bread in our area that my only option is to make my own. I’m going to use Rose Levy Bernabaum’s recipe from The Bread Bible. I’ve got questions about the recipe – it seems there’s a crucial step missing, but last time I tried, I just winged my way through, and ended up with something really, really good, though not necessarily what RLB had in mind.

  • Sandra McKenzie

    Perfect timing! I just got a bag of rye flour yesterday because I’m so frustrated at the lack of good rye bread in our area that my only option is to make my own. I’m going to use Rose Levy Bernabaum’s recipe from The Bread Bible. I’ve got questions about the recipe – it seems there’s a crucial step missing, but last time I tried, I just winged my way through, and ended up with something really, really good, though not necessarily what RLB had in mind.

    Bread Angel

    Also, thanks for including metric weights in your recipes. A scale and a thermometer are essential for me to make good bread.

    And a hearty “amen” to that! Volume-only recipes are high on my list of irritants.

  • Karin

    Looking forward to the gluten free loaf. For better health, I’m leaving gluten behind. Really unsatisfied the the options for purchase here. Not to mention the expense of buying gluten free bread

  • Tom Saaristo

    Bread baking is the huge hole in my repertoire. I do not own a stand mixer (sadly), but I do own a food processor with a dough blade. Any thoughts on subsituting one for the other. Not owning a stand mixer is the primary reason I have avoided bread baking … and I can hardly imagine the amount of time mixing by hand would take compared to mixing with the stand mixer. You almost have me convinced, but if it is too laborious or time-consuming, I’m not likely to stick with it.

    • Mantonat

      I really prefer mixing and kneading by hand to using a mixer. It really doesn’t take much longer and you don’t have to clean up the mixer when you are done. Making bread from scratch will probably never realistically be considered a low time/labor activity, but consider it a form of zen meditation to help you detatch from stress, practice mindfulness, and concentrate on something primal and wonderful. Your home will smell great, your friends and family will thank you profusely, and you will feel relaxed and at peace with your inner peasant.

      • Matthew

        This I totally agree with. My blog was originally started as a way to help find some spiritual and physical balance during a really traumatic time (I had a ruptured disc and no health insurance). The hours I spent making bread and then writing about the process were really wonderful when it was a struggle just to stand up, but for some reason mixing and kneading by hand was more therapeutic than stressful.

    • ruhlman

      it doesn’t take more time mixing by hand, just a little more effort. I did by hand for the app photos and was amazed how easy it was. haven’t done it by hand in ages. it’s not hard at all. actually very satisfying.

  • Justin Rasmussen

    I’ve been baking bread from Ratio the last week, my first time baking bread and using my dutch oven to bake the bread. The bread comes out great except for two problems, the bread is a little dense not as airy and light as I would want. My other problem is the bottom is browned very darkly, almost burnt and very hard. Any ideas how to change that?

  • Fred S.

    I got started baking bread through the videos at http://www.breadtopia.com.

    Although like Ruhlman I enjoy the process of kneading, I think the no-knead method produces great bread. Baking the high-moisture dough in a pre-heated, covered dutch oven makes for excellent crust, which is my favorite part of bread. Also, the early success I had with no-knead gave me confidence in working with dough generally. So while I actually dislike the lack of kneading in the no-knead recipes, I think it’s a worthwhile method.

    • ruhlman

      I did the basic lahey method once and found the dough to be lacking flavor. I also don’t believe that the lack of kneading should be billed as THE main asset and selling point about this bread. My no-knead bread comes from On the Rise bakery—I don’t have to knead it at all.

      • Paul

        I appreciate your point about kneading – but after baking 100′s of loaves, my experience is that the no-knead method produces a high-quality, TASTY bread with a great crust. I find that is a great tool to have in the toolbox…

        I bought three used crockpot inserts, so I make 3 loaves at a time and they work great. The basic recipe I use is 2 cups of unbleached white, 1 cup of whole wheat, 1 TBS salt, 1/4 tsp yeast and water. It takes me less than 15 minutes to prep 3 loaves, and then another 15 minutes of active time baking the bread the next day. It might not be true, authentic bread baking, but it’s still homemade bread and it is, in my opinion, very, very good.

        Cheers,

        Paul

  • Paul

    Not to quibble, oh, what the heck, why not, but shouldn’t you have soaked those oats and grits in some hot water first? Your hydration is only 56% and so you have lots of room for some extra water. Even if you kicked the water up to 400 gm. and used the extra 60 to hydrate the oats and grits you would still be at 66% hydration which is still an easily workable dough.

    Plus … bakers should dust their couche or banneton with some rye flour to keep the dough from sticking in the banneton.

    • Ana Nielsen

      I second the SF Baking Institute. My very first course there was a 2 day workshop on baguettes. I made 34 baguettes in 2 days and learned so much about bread dough. The techniques that they teach is sort of a no-knead, a long rise broke up by periodic folding of bread dough. There wasn’t what I’ve perceived as a traditional kneading, just fold dough-let rest-repeat 3 more times. We even made a teff baguette that is probably the most wet dough I’ve ever encountered. It was also the best tasting baguette too.

  • Natalie Sztern

    My gorgeous 20-something son who works in a bakery part-time while going to school tells me kneading bread is very sensuous and sexy-feeling…I guess the baker has him kneading bread…

  • Mary Alice Kropp

    I would soak the flax seeds. Gives them much better texture in the bread.

    I use the stand mixer for kneading because I have problems with tendonitis in my hands, especially the right one. Kneading will leave me hurting for the rest of the day. Stand mixer lets me bake bread (my favorite thing to bake!) without the hurt.

  • Frank Ball

    I notice that bannetons come in 8″ and 10.5″ sizes. Which is the best size for this recipe?

  • lisadelrio

    I made this today and it is delicious. I substituted whole wheat flour for the buckwheat because I didn’t have it on hand. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written. I used a stand mixer and a banneton. I didn’t get much oven spring – I think I let the proof gone on a little too long. I attend the “Church of Reinhart” so I wondered about the soaking, but the grains were fine without soaking. Next time I might add more water and retard the dough overnight, just to see what happens.

  • Melissa

    This is great, I love making bread. I definately agree about winter being such a good time for baking it. A great time indeed for those wonderful aromas.

  • Cathy

    Glad to hear you’re going to tackle gluten-free breads – they can be a real challenge. Many of the store-bought ones are not very satisfying. I’ve been experimenting whenever possible and my favorite so far is this one: http://glutenfreerecipecollection.blogspot.com/2010/12/wonderful-gluten-free-crusty-boule.html which was found at glutenfreegirl.com – originally from http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1396. As suggested, it’s really best when you let it rest in the refrigerator for several days – this makes the flavor so much more complex.

  • Carri

    Nice Loaf! I have to say I am on the side of soaking…even grits and oats will soften and absorb water with a little soaking, allowing you to use a higher hydration, which gives a springier, moister loaf. Also, if you give the whole mixture a little time to rest (even 20 minutes) and absorb the water into the wheat before you knead it, your dough will come together faster and with physical less effort. Yay, bread month…This is going to be fun!

  • E-beth

    This recipe can easily be mixed on the dough cycle of the bread machine and you can dribble in some more water to get a nice tacky springy dough ball. it will rise nicely. for some reason the break machine mixing tops the stand mixer. I have made both ways and consistently the bread machine tops the kitchen aid, plus no extra labor setting up for the rise. then just continue with the shaping and rising of the loaves, then baking off in the regular oven as directed. substitute the corn grits with some nice ground grain to get the same texture as whole grains will be different: millet grits, wheatena, whole grain farina (like bear mush from arrowhead mills), rye grits, quinoa hot breakfast cereal, or any multi grain breakfast cereal with a combo of ground grains.

  • E-beth

    also, there is a small amount of yeast in proportion to the flours and grains, so if your artisan style dough is not moist enough, be prepared for a LONGGGGG rise, definitely plan on the 4 hours, even more in a cool kitchen, which will develop the flavor. my mantra: dont desert the dough. let it have its full rising time. let the dough tell you what it needs. (regular doughs would have at least double the yeast to boost the rise. if you want a bit more rise, next time you make the dough, add another 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon yeast rather than the long rise time.) Do not use active dry yeast in the packages. they are buffered with fillers and are not the same as the same brand sold bulk in a jar. just keep the yeast in the freezer; it will last at least a year. Use one of the super yeasts like SAF if you bake a lot. you will love it.

    • ruhlman

      These are good points about yeast. I think I’ll note this in the recipe. The longer the rise the more flavor, that’s why I go low on the yeast. If I need a dough to rise faster I’d double the yeast (but settle for less flavor). Your point about not telling the dough what to do is a good one. Dough is alive till you cook it. You need to treat it like the individual living thing that it is.

  • Cathy

    I jumped right on this, mixing up the bread and allowing it to rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator. It’s just now out of the oven – gorgeous and smells intoxicating. Thanks for the month of bread. I am officially on this bandwagon and so glad to be dusting off the banneton.

  • Sara

    Perfect timing! I’ve been wanting to make bread, especially now that the temperature has dropped to the frigid range. And, multigrain is my very favorite breakfast bread (well, except when I’m turning brioche or challah into French toast, of course).

  • Steven

    Michael, Kudos on Bread Month! I really enjoy baking different breads but don’t do it nearly often enough. My girlfriend has asked me to bake a sprouted grain bread for her. Any chance you could put out some info on how to prepare the sprouted wheat and make the bread?

  • Alonna Smith

    I second the request for a sprouted grain bread. My co-op carries a version from a local bakery but it is hit-or-miss whether it is in stock. Would love to make my own. Thanks!!

  • Comal Caliente

    This looks awesome! I just got a stand mixer and a scale for Christmas and I baked my first loaf of bread using the dutch oven method. The results were great and I made another loaf since then. Both times I used my ratio app to get the measurements and it seems pretty fail proof. Great tools/suggestions, much appreciated.

    Can this multigrain bread be baked in the same dutch oven? I dont see why not but I don’t know if there is a reason to not use it.

  • Kathy

    I am not a bread baker, cause when I get through, I have to eat it and guess where every slice ends up…..But that is a very sexy bread….

  • Gluten Free Diva

    Michael – I met you briefly at blogher ’10 in SF. Between reading your Ratio book and following Shauna Ahern’s lead, I’m creating more and more gluten free bread and baked goods recipes with ingredients listed by weight. It has really helped me understand more of the chemistry behind baking, so thank you for your inspiration! With my newly migrated gluten free blog and a boatload of new year’s resolutions, as I move forward, I plan on listing my recipes in this manner. Hmmm, where to start? I think I’d like to convert your recipe to gluten free. Should be a piece of cake, pardon the pun. I only have to replace the first two flours and make a few other tiny tweaks! I say yes to homemade gluten free bread!

    Ellen
    Gluten Free Diva

  • karen downie makley

    awesome! i need a kick in the fanny to start baking again. i baked my own bread for quite some time out of frugality…my snobbish tastes will only tolerate the “artisan” stuff, but my wallet sometimes protests the cost of good product. it didn’t take me long to figure out that 50 cents worth of raw materials yielded me the stuff i had been paying 4.99 for…. so, i will see your bread making challenge and raise you a couple loaves to be photographed. if any of your readers are the least bit intimidated, i will add that i do not have a stand mixer, sometimes can’t find my dough hooks, and use no special equipment whatsoever. it’s just flour, yeast, water, and a little time.

  • kaela

    I have to disagree that all bread needs white flour for texture. Whole grain flours just need more time, and more hydration; those dense bricks of “healthy” bread they tried to fob off on us in the 70′s are truly a thing of the past. Check out Peter Reinhart’s book Whole Grain Breads. Most of his recipes require an overnight ferment but the flavor *and* texture can’t be beat.

  • barb

    trying it now & I am not getting the transparency after first starting w/ mixer then kneading my hand, I didn’t read the comments prior to starting, prehaps I should have hydrated some of the grains?? I am going to try a little more water before I allow to rise see what happens, I am a novice to bread making so……

  • ruhlman

    keep kneading. unless of course you stopped 10 minutes ago. i’ll bet a little more water helped and some more kneading. dough is forgiving and generous if you give it time, your time. let me know what happened.

    • Barb B

      I read your yeast entry & one of my problems may be I used SAF instant yeast however have not had it refrigerated, it has been in my pantry!! I will buy new yeast & give it another go.

  • Cookin' Canuck

    Ever since I was a kid, when my grandfather took up bread baking as a hobby, I am easily seduced whenever I catch the aroma of freshly baked bread. I am trying to do more and more bread baking myself and can’t wait to see the recipes you feature here. This multigrain version is an awfully good start!

  • E. Nassar

    You had me at buckwheat. I bake bread at least once a week using a variety fo methods and techniques (my starter is now almost 10 years old!). I have to also add my high praise for using weight measures for this recipe. What a pain in the ass it would’ve been to measure a cup of flour, 3/4 of oats, 2/3 a cup of …Anyways, due to time constraints, I have my dough formed and in a bowl in the fridge to be baked tonight. The time in the fridge (retarding) should have an overall positive effect on the dough. We’ll see.
    I am surprised you said the no-knead bread is lacking flavor though. I bake that often and it’s not as flavorful as my sourdough of course, but it’s by far better than most breads, including some “artisan” store-bought ones. Factor in how little effort is involved in making it and it can’t be beat.

  • Darlene

    You don’t know how happy this post makes me! I recently discovered that I love bread baking. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve purchased bread since October. I was given Beranbaum’s Bread Bible for Christmas and dived right in. The four breads I’ve tried so far have been spectacular.

    The baking blog I read most often is King Arthur Flour’s Baking Banter. They make it look simple, and it turns out, it really is!

  • dave

    Michael:
    This weekend was dedicated to baking bread (with mixed results). the multigrain bread was an abject failure…never wanted to rise (we keep the house really cold–could that be it?). I kneaded with both stand mixer and by hand, but it seemed really dry. I added a little warm water to try and help, to no advantage. I kept at it and tried to place it in a warm oven and got a little rise, but it wasn’t really working. I baked anyway. It was hard, dense and dry. It had a nice flavor, but was more like hardtack.

    As an aside, the dogs were wild for the failed multigrain. I broke off pieces and they gobbled it up. So when your bread fails…it’s good for the dogs, a nice alternative to tossing it out.

    The Ciabatta, on the other hand, worked splendidly and we’ve been enjoying little bits of that warmed up and buttered.

    I haven’t given up on the multigrain, it’s on the schedule again.

    • Todd

      Dave,
      My house is a little on the cooler side. When I make bread, I use my Microwave oven as a makeshift proofing cabinet. I take a bowl with about two cups of water and microwave it for about 10 minutes. This creates a warm moist envrionment for the dough. I also leave the bowl of hot water in the oven along with the dough.

      • dave

        That’s a great Idea, except our Micro-Nuker went out about 6 years ago and we’ve found that it works as a lovely bread box (as well as being a clock). My Ciabatta proofed in the still warm (i actually set it on the open oven door) oven from the failed Multi-Grain Experiment.

        I’m pretty sure my failure was due to the cold…Thanks for the idea, though.

  • Christina

    I have embarked on the January Bread project as well. My first attempt at the Multi-grain failed. Here is my hypothesis. I followed the directions to the letter, except I subbed Rye flour for Buckwheat and Millet for the Flax seeds. I believe the failure was 2 part. A) I added the yeast directly to the dry ingredients. and B) I did not soak the Millet as suggested in a later post. I got very very little rise. I went back to “Ratio’s” and read up on what Michael said about types of yeast. I believe because I didn’t add the dry active yeast to the water the coating on the yeast dissolved very little, and because of the addition of Millet it removed some of the available hydration to the yeast. I tossed it before I even baked it. Tried again, this time adding the yeast to the water first (still didn’t know about hydrating the Millet). Success! (Used the cast iron dutch oven method to bake) I have posted the pic on Michael’s Facebook page. I will definitely do this bread again.
    If anyone has lnfo on which grains should be soaked, how much water and time is needed to do it I would appreciate it.

    • ruhlman

      interesting. I’ve never had a problem with yeast hydrating no matter when I added. I was going to say you didn’t kneed sufficiently but sinxe your second effort succeeded, i suspect your analysis correct.

      • Christina

        Thank you for the reply Michael. I used my Kitchen Aid to mix and knead for more than the allotted time and put the dough in the fridge overnight to rise, pulled it the next day, brought it to room temp and even used the oven proofing setting to try to proof but had no success (first attempt) maybe 5 to10% rise after a good 18 hours. The second attempt was much better (same process and ingredients, other than adding the yeast to the water before mixing), though soaking the millet I believe would have improved the overall texture.

  • stuandgravy

    Second the recommendation above for Peter Reinhart’s book ‘Whole Grain Breads’. Great techniques for getting more flavour & ‘airiness’ out of whole grains. The steps all add time and complication, though, so it’s the usual trade-off. White flour makes things much easier!

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