If you’re a sourdough baker, you’re likely always on the lookout for a new recipe to test your starter’s strength. If you’re not into baking with sourdough, you owe it to yourself to try. Over the years, of all the kinds of breads I’ve made, it’s one of the most satisfying to bake. Among its advantages are digestibility for most people, even some with slight gluten intolerance or diabetes, and superior keeping quality. In the hot, humid summer a loaf can last as long as a week or 10 days in the breadbox, though I only know that because of the times we were gone for a few days. Usually it’s half gone as soon as it’s cool enough to cut. Everyone loves the smell of freshly baked bread but to me, sourdough right out of the oven is unbeatable.
This multigrain sandwich loaf does not get the crackly crust you may associate with those big beautiful round loaves in pictures – we’ll get to those another time – but it will definitely please the crust-lovers in your house. It has that distinctive sour flavor and the bonus of multigrain cereal to give it some heft. I add sunflower seeds but pumpkin or sesame seeds are good too. Bread with sunflower seeds makes especially good toast.
One thing you cannot do with sourdough is hurry the process. Allow enough time for the wild yeasts to do their thing and you’ll be amply rewarded. Try to speed up the process and you may get a flat, dense brick of a loaf. As with all breads though, most of the time is spent just waiting. Your actual hands-on time is short. The poolish needs 12-24 hours to develop flavor while it rests on your kitchen counter. It will get more sour with time. It should look bubbly and have risen slightly when it’s ready to use, and that will depend on the strength of your starter and the temperature in your kitchen. Place the container of poolish on a heating pad set on low if the kitchen is cool, or find a warm spot somewhere else in your house. Put a thick hotpad or folded towel under the container if necessary to keep it from getting too hot on the bottom.
Nature’s Way 7-grain organic cereal, available in bulk at my local co-op, is my favorite for recipes and breakfast. Your grocery store probably carries Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain and/or 7-grain. Or do a little research and come up with your own blend, though it’s hard to beat the convenience and consistency of a commercial brand. It’s used straight from the box for this recipe but is cooked for my other version of multigrain bread. Any time you use cereals, including cracked wheat or other grains, in bread it should be either soaked overnight or cooked before using in your recipe.
If you find your starter lacks oompf, don’t be afraid to assist the final dough with a bit of instant yeast. Next time you can refresh the starter more often so it’s stronger. For now as little as a half teaspoon of instant yeast, added to the bread flour in the final mix, is enough to get the dough rising, though it may take longer. Be patient.
– Joan, 13 December 2019
Sourdough multigrain bread
- 216 grams warm milk
- 131 grams warm water
- 355 grams strong sourdough starter
- 63 grams honey
- 159 grams whole wheat flour
- 182 grams multigrain cereal, uncooked
- all of the poolish
- 37 grams butter, melted
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼-¾ teaspoon instant yeast, if needed
- 308 grams bread flour
- 52 grams hulled sunflower seeds, salted or unsalted
Mix together all the ingredients for the poolish. Cover and set in a warm spot for 12-24 hours.
When the poolish has risen slightly and has a few bubbles, put it and the melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low till butter is blended in. Stir the salt, instant yeast (if using), and sunflower or other seeds into the flour, then add to the poolish/butter. Use the dough hook to knead for 5 minutes. Let it mix for a few minutes before adding any additional liquid or flour if you think it looks too dry or too loose. This is not a stiff dough. In the photo above no extra flour or water was added, only what’s specified in the recipe.
Place dough into a greased container and cover. Set aside in a warm place to rise, stretching and folding into quarters after 30 minutes, then again in another 30 minutes. Proofing can take anywhere from 1-6 hours, depending on temperature. When almost doubled in bulk, divide into 2 pieces and form as desired. Let rise again until almost doubled.
Bake at 400°F for 40-50 minutes. Internal temperature should be about 200°F when baked through. Cool completely, at least 3 hours, before cutting or wrapping for storage or freezing.