YIELD: 2 LOAVES
2 CUPS WATER
½ CUP UNCOOKED 7-GRAIN CEREAL
2 TABLESPOONS BUTTER
1/4 CUP HONEY
1 CUP WARM WATER
2 TABLESPOONS DRY YEAST
1 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
1 CUP UNBLEACHED, ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
1 TABLESPOON SALT
2 CUPS UNBLEACHED, ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
WHITE FLOUR FOR DUSTING THE BOARD
TO PREPARE THE DOUGH
Bring the 2 cups water to a boil and stir in the 7-grain cereal. Cover and continue to cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 11 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cut the butter into small pieces and add it along with the honey to the hot grains. Stir to melt, then allow to cool.
After the grains have cooled to warm, pour the 1 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. When the yeast is foamy, mix the barely warm grains into the yeast with a big wooden spoon, stirring in a continuous clockwise, circular motion, adding the 1 cup of whole wheat flour and the 1 cup allpurpose flour. Beat well after each addition. Beat this sponge in the same direction 200 more strokes. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let the sponge rest about 30 to 60 minutes or until it starts to rise.
After the sponge has started to rise; in the same circular motion, beat in the salt and, one cup at a time, enough of the remaining 2 cups all-purpose flour to make a kneadable dough. The amount of flour you need to add will depend on the amount of water absorbed into the grains during the cooking process. Be sure to knead in only as much as needed to make a workable dough.
Oil your hands lightly, pour the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured board and knead, dusting the board with small amounts of white flour as needed, until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes. Place the dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough once to oil the top. Cover and let rise until doubled.
TO SHAPE AND BAKE
Lightly grease two large bread pans. Punch the dough down and knead briefly to remove any air bubbles. Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves, rounding the tops and place seam side down into the two prepared pans. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until almost doubled. While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the loaves in the fully preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped and the sides are golden brown. If desired, rub the tops of the loaves with butter while hot. Cool on racks to warm before slicing.
FRESH BAKED BREADEthel Romig Fuller
The savory scent of fresh-baked bread Permeates a house
With fragrance lovlier than May On crab apple boughs;
More titillant than tang in fall
Of smoke from leaf fires burning; Than peaches in the August sun; Than loam a plow is turning.
0 more to be desired than red
Rose petals packed in cloves-
The perfume of a winter day
Of warm white wheaten loaves.’