January 6, 2013

Multi-Grain (Machine) Bread

In this past year of being plant-based, I've often read and wondered about the multiple ingredients and preservatives in store-bought bread. Lindsay Nixon (Happy Herbivore) did a blog post last March about how to look for vegan breads. She posted a iPhone pic of a bread label that she took one day while grocery shopping. The ingredient listing was almost 5 inches long. Now that is a tad insane, isn't it?

Home-made Whole Grain Bread
Anyhow, all last year I mused about getting a bread machine so we could have our own home made bread. Surprise, Surprise ... Santa, disguised as my DH of course, brought me a Black & Decker BK1015W Bread Machine. Yup! That's me all smiles on Christmas morning :) !!!

The only bread we ate growing up was either store-bought white bread, or it was whole-wheat (unleavened) Indian flat-bread (chapati). My mom always made the dough at home, by hand, and we were taught to help out as we got older. Kneading the dough was a rather tedious job. I am sure anyone who has ever made home-made bread of any kind can attest to that. So, I didn't make chapatis at home until very recently and even then I used my Cuisinart with its dough hook attachment.  So when I got a kneading bread machine ... I was admittedly quite excited. Then ... came the realization that I can no longer just made dinner in 30 min or less after work. If I wanted to have fresh bread with dinner, I needed to plan ahead. So my bread machine has been sitting in its box for almost 2 weeks. Finally, this evening, again rather late to be able to eat it today .. I opened the box and washed out the removable parts with the intent of making a loaf tomorrow. But, I couldn't wait and decided to do a test run tonight! :) If it works, I have a plan for Monday night .... !! 

I adapted a recipe I found online on Guilty Kitchen. Since this is my first attempt and because I am relatively new to 'yeast' breads - I followed the recipe almost to the tee, with one slight change. I called it multi-grain, instead of whole wheat, because I used all, in addition to whole wheat flour - Oats (which the original recipe allows for) and Chia seeds (my addition). 

Prep Time: 10 min + ~4 hours in a bread machine

Ingredients (8 servings/slices): 
  1. 1 cup almond milk
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  4. 2 tbsp Agave syrup
  5. 2 tsp Salt
  6. 3.75 cups Whole Wheat flour 
  7. 3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats 
  8. 3 tsp Chia Seeds (not in original recipe) 
  9. 2.25 tsp Active Dry Yeast
Place all ingredients in the order they are listed into the baking pan of your bread machine. This is important because bread machines allow the ingredients to sit for a while before the program initiates. Always add the liquid ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients and always add the active yeast at the very end - make a little well in the center of the flour and place yeast there. Make sure that the yeast does not immediately come in contact with salt, or water (this is especially important when using the delay-bake function).  
The dough, before rising!
Use the menu selection on your machine for whole wheat bread. Mine had a setting for 3 hours and 53 minutes. I got quite the scare today when the bread machine sat for a good 30 minutes before it showed any signs of life (it just sat there .. giving out the occasional click). Apparently, it was making sure that all the ingredients were at the ideal temperature for the yeast before it even starts kneading the dough. It made a pretty smooth ball of dough after it was done kneading.

The dough, halfway through rising .. very spongy!!
Then, it allowed the bread to rise for another 90 minutes before the bake cycle began. The instruction manual asks you not to open the lid once the kneading cycle is done, but curiosity got the better of me. I could not just sit there and smell the delicious aroma without looking. I did let the program run its course however. The house smelled amazing during and even after the baking period. Once done, remove the bread from the machine when done and allow to cool on a baking rack for 15-20 minutes. Slice away ... !

The loaf, after it was done & resting!
My Assessment: For a first attempt, this bread came out pretty good. The crust was nice and crunchy and the inside of the bread was soft and warm. It had the wonderful aroma of fresh baked bread. The body of it was a little denser I would have wanted it to be - which might be a function of the brand of whole wheat dough that I used versus the original recipe. I might try to mix a little bit of all purpose flour to tone down the density of the whole wheat flour next time. I really liked the bits of  Oats and Chia seeds which gave it the bread a little more substance. This recipe also uses 2 tbsp of Earth Balance (a vegan butter) .. so I need to modify my next attempt to replace that as well. The loaf slid out of the pan in one smooth swoop. The crust could have been darker, but I set it to medium. Overall, I think the bread machine was a hit! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 222
Total Fat 11.5 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 27 g; Fiber 4.6 g; Sugars 1.4 g; Protein 5.1 g

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