I don’t know about you, but, whenever I hear someone talking about multi-grain bread, I think of the Dead Duck scene in the movie About a Boy. Young Marcus (the boy) has been given a home made multigrain loaf so dense and stale that he gives up trying to tare it up in order to feed the birds, that he heaves the whole loaf into the pond, accidentally killing a duck. Whether this resonates with you or not, we’ve all encountered those leaden offerings so dry and gritty that even a thick slathering with butter can’t lubricate it enough to swallow.
While still being a lean dough, this bread is predominantly made from bread flour with the additions of a multigrain soaker and a proportion of whole wheat flour. Unlike many loaves of its ilk, it is a pleasure to eat toasted or in the right sandwich.
Whether your mixing by hand or by machine, it will take additional time to develop a good gluten structure in the dough. Bran, no matter how finely ground, tends to cut through gluten strands, and the soaked grains compound the issue. It is, absolutely possible, but will require a little more effort than a standard “patent” flour dough. If you haven’t built up much endurance for kneading by hand I recommend making the dough in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. It will still take 8 – 10 minutes to sufficiently work to the dough to develop the gluten.
I did not pursue this step in this recipe, but an autolysis stage may help to reduce the kneading time. My recommendation, and what I am planning to attempt the next time I make this recipe, is to mix the final dough roughly, and then allowing it to sit to fully hydrate and begin forming a gluten structure. About 30 minutes should do the trick, before you begin to work the dough.
*A traditional autolyse method would have you withhold the yeast and salt until after the resting and hydration stage. This dough already has a soaker component and a pâte fermentée so both yeast and salt are already present, and the small additional amounts applied before the autolysis stage won’t harm gluten development.
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