My friend Dee taught me how to bake bread almost 20 years ago. I didn’t yet own a cooling rack or know the delight of kneading dough until your forearms ached, but I was immediately hooked! Every time I make bread I feel like I have a connection to all those who came before me and turned such simple ingredients into daily sustenance for their families. Sure, I don’t grow or mill my own grains (although there is an attachment for the Vitamix that I’ve been eyeing) and I don’t have a wood stove to bake in (thank goodness), but I do have a wild imagination! I’ve been baking bread ever since that first experience – in the bread maker, by hand, and a combination of the two – love the bread-maker for making dough when I’m pressed for time.
My kids often ask for sandwiches for lunch and I am much happier to make them with our home-made bread, knowing that it doesn’t include anything but whole ingredients and love. After years of experimenting, this is my favourite whole grain sandwich bread. And Dee – I think you’ll be happy to know that I now own three cooling racks.
Close your eyes and imagine the mouth-watering, earthy smell of fresh bread baking in your home – aaaaah, there’s nothing like it. Now open them and stop daydreaming so you can read on and get baking!
This recipe calls for whole grain kamut and spelt flours, which I prefer to regular whole wheat for both taste and digestibility. You may ask, what’s all this talk about “whole grains” anyhow? The reason whole grain flours are preferable are because they aren’t stripped of their nutrients the way refined white flours are.
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to oil loaf pans)
2 tablespoons of raw honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup seeds (I used a mixture of millet, pumpkin and sesame seeds – but go ahead and experiment)
2 cups whole kamut flour
2 cups whole spelt flour (plus extra for work surface)
3 teaspoons of dry, active yeast
Step 1: If you are making the dough in the bread maker:
Place all ingredients (except the seeds) in the pan according to your bread machine’s preference.
Program for the dough cycle. When the machine beeps in the middle of the cycle, add the seeds.
Remove the dough from pan at the end of the cycle.
Step 1: If you are making the dough by hand:
In a saucepan on the stove – warm the water and buttermilk together (warm, not hot).
Pour the liquid into a mixing bowl, stir in yeast.
When the yeast is active and starts to form a foam on the water (about 5 minutes), mix in the first cup of flour (doesn’t matter which one you start with).
Mix in the olive oil, honey and salt.
Add the remaining flour, half a cup at a time. Flatten out the dough on a floured surface, place seeds on the dough and fold in until the seeds are incorporated.
Knead dough for 6-8 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled mixing bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Step 2: for either method:
Place dough on a floured work surface. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, adding more flour (about a tablespoon at a time) if it’s too sticky.
Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape into loaves. Place each one in an oiled bread pan.
Turn the loaves over so that all sides are slightly coated with oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled – about an hour.
Remove the tea towels and the loaves. Re-oil the pans and coat with flour (to prevent sticking).
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes, until they are beginning to brown.
Remove from pans and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
Makes two delicious sandwich loaves.
I hope you’ll enjoy this bread as much as we do – I absolutely love it with almond butter and morello cherry jam!