“Waddaya mean, ‘quinoa, sorghum, millet, amaranth, and... bread?’ You don't think those grains make good bread?”
Well (she says sheepishly), millet is that yellow birdseed my parakeet used to scatter around the cage, and quinoa has some weird soapy stuff you have to wash off, and amaranth is supposed to have protein but no flavor, and sorghum — heck, isn't that a weed?
OK, all of you “unusual grain” apprecianados; I give up. And give in. And I give a round of applause to our new Ancient Grains Blend, a mixture of the aforementioned “beyond the pale” grains.
They make bread that's pretty good. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool white bread fan, so I can't say this whole-grainy bread is my exact cup of tea. But for those of you who go the back-to-the-earth, whole-grain route, this recipe is a keeper.
Just ask Jim, our King Arthur Web developer.
(Don't know what a Web developer is? I don't either. But I know it's important. Jim spends endless hours keyboarding what looks like gibberish to me, and in the end it turns into... this lovely, engaging Web site. Thanks, Jim!)
Anyway, Jim is a veteran of the high school class of 1967. He graduated at the beginning of the Summer of Love. And all these years later, I can still see the vestiges of that watershed year in Jim. Peace. Love. The Beatles.
And whole grains.
Today Jim showed me what he was drinking with his lunchtime sandwich: hemp milk.
HEMP milk, Jim?
“Yeah, it's good. Smooth.”
As yummy as milk made from hemp can be, I'd guess.
Actually, after I photographed this, I tasted it. (Secrets revealed, indeed — just had a teaspoonful. I know you wouldn't mind, Jim.) It was OK; pretty much like soy milk.
We were talking about our Ancient Grains blend at lunch, and Jim said, “Joanna made bread with it this weekend.” (Joanna is Jim's wife.)
So, how was it?
“Well, she said it was kind of weird to work with.”
But how was the bread, Jim?
“Really good. I loved it.”
Case closed. It's groovy. We can dig (into) it.
Come on baby, light my... oven. Let's bake Ancient Grains Bread.
And here it is, in all its nutritional splendor: our new Ancient Grains Flour Blend. It's relatively pricey, at just under $5/pound. But then again, you don't use that much of it. This particular recipe uses a lot — about $1.25 worth.
To pack extra nutritional punch into a typical bread, muffin, or cookie recipe, spoon 3 tablespoons of Ancient Grains into the bottom of your measuring cup, then fill the cup with whatever flour you're using. A typical muffin recipe might use 50¢ worth of Ancient Grains — not a lot, considering you're probably paying about 50¢ per teaspoon for pure vanilla, if you purchase it at the supermarket.
Or 21¢ per teaspoon, if you buy our wicked good Nielsen-Massey vanilla in the bulk 32-ounce bottle. Which, by the way, makes a GREAT gift for any of your baking friends; keep it in mind for the holidays.
Here's another ingredient you might not have in your pantry. But if you bake whole grain bread (or want to), an extra shot of gluten really does help with the loaf's rise.
As with almost all yeast breads, we'll start by putting all of the ingredients into a bowl. We recently received a commont here on the blog asking that all of the ingredient amounts be listed; that way, if you use your laptop in the kitchen, you won't have to toggle between the recipe and the blog. Good suggestion! So here's what goes in the bowl:
¾ to 1 cup (6 to 8 ounces) lukewarm water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) orange juice
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces) Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 cups (8 ½ ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur whole wheat flour, Traditional or White Whole Wheat
1 cups Ancient Grains Flour Blend
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
At this time of year, start with 3/4 cup water; in the winter, when it's less humid, you'll probably need the extra water.
Mix to combine. You'll find yourself with a “shaggy” dough: sticky and rough, but cohesive.
If you're using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook, and knead for 7 minutes or so. The dough will remain fairly sticky, but will smooth out nicely.
Place the dough in a greased container. I'm using an 8-cup measure, so I can easily track its rise.
An hour later: WOW. Guess the yeast loves quinoa, millet, sorghum, and amaranth.
Shape into a log and place in a greased 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan.
Tent with plastic. I always use a shower cap — works like a charm, and rumor has it you can get a whole pack of them at the dollar store.
An hour or so later, the bread has risen nicely. Actually, whether it was the barometric pressure or what, I found this bread was a really quick riser. It only took 30 minutes for it to rise this much when I tested it on a stormy June afternoon.
It's hard to see from this angle, but the loaf should have risen about 1” over the rim of the pan. You can let it get a bit higher, if you like; the loaf doesn't have much oven-spring (i.e., it won't rise a lot more once it goes into the oven).
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a preheated 375°F oven. To prevent over-browning, tent loosely with foil after the first 20 minutes; it'll continue to brown, even with the foil, but won't get nearly as dark.
The finished loaf should be a lovely mahogany brown all over.
Here's an option: run a stick of butter over the bread's top crust while it's still warm.
Don't worry, it'll soak in. The bread will have a very compelling soft, buttery, satiny crust.
Slice when cool. And — just like Jim — enjoy your connection to baking antiquity.
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Ancient Grains Bread.
And — how did you like being able to read the ingredient amounts right in the blog post? Helpful? We worry that now maybe you won't click to the recipe (which does include some extra information), but let's see how this goes, shall we?
Finally, if you're looking for a 100% gluten-free recipe using Ancient Grains Flour Blend, try our Ancient Grains Biscuits. They require xanthan gum, potato starch, and tapioca starch, all of which you should have on hand if you're a gluten-free baker. We don't currently carry these products, but will research offering them in the future.
Bake vs. Buy
Buy: Nashoba Brook Breads (voted Boston's #1 bread) — 7-Grain Bread, 33¢/ounce
Stop & Shop Supermarket in-store bakery — multigrain sandwich loaf, 22¢/ounce
Bake at home: Ancient Grains Bread, 10¢/ounce