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Peter Reinhart's Multigrain Bread


Not that I’m counting, but I believe this makes the 10th bread recipe I’ve posted on this blog.  And that doesn’t count the quick breads, flatbreads, dinner rolls or other bready sorts of things I’ve posted.  I’m sure it won’t be the last, but I’m going out on a limb here to say that it might be the best.  I feel just awful saying that out loud because I do love all of my bread children; but I think this one just elevates the whole experience of homemade bread to another level of kicked up goodness. 

The recipe comes to us from Peter Reinhart and his book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which is my go-to text book for all things yeasty.  He calls this his “Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire” which is no exaggeration.  This is, indeed, some extraordinary bread.   

So what makes it so extraordinary?  I’m glad you asked because there are actually a couple of things that make it pretty special.  One is the incredible texture of this bread… it makes absolutely amazing toast.  The other, of course, is the flavor.  There’s just a bit of brown sugar in the dough which gives it an almost undetectable sweetness, but it’s there all the same.  And as Mr. Reinhart says, it’s also why it makes such great toast.  The sugar helps the bread to sort of caramelize when it toasts up and the contrast of the crispy edges and the chewy interior makes it a bit addicting.

Another thing that makes this bread unique is that it begins with a soaker of corn meal, oats and wheat bran that are mixed with a little water.  This sits out overnight to give it time to activate the enzymes in the grains and break out trapped sugars from the starches and softens the coarse grains, and according to Mr. Reinhart, the effect of this is to dramatically improve the flavor of the finished loaf.  So therein lies the secret to why we’ve come to love this bread… grains and enzymes and sugars that have busted loose from starch prisons and enough drama to make one heck of a fine loaf of bread. 

The Husband has declared it his favorite, and that alone is reason enough to keep making it.  And since I’m inclined to agree with him, he’ll most likely have lots of yummy toast to keep him happy for awhile.  Here’s the recipe…

Peter Reinhart's Multigrain Bread

Click here for a printable recipe

This bread is actually pretty easy to make.  Do not be dismayed by step 4.  You can just roll the bread into a loaf shape and it will be fine.  In his book, Mr. Reinhart describes how to fold the bread into thirds and create a loaf shape, but it works just as well to simply roll it up.  No worries.  The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of brown rice, which seems a little odd, but at the same time as I put the grains in for the soaker, I cook up some brown rice by tossing a handful into boiling water and simmering it for about 30 minutes, or until done.  Then I drain it really well and stick it in the fridge to use in the dough the next day.  Any extra gets thrown into salads or eaten for lunch with some veggies and drizzled with soy sauce.  I've made this bread several times now and at different times I've added wheat berries, flax seeds and/or chia seeds.  We've loved them all, so feel free to add whatever seeds or nuts make you happy.  If you'd like to add wheat berries (which we loved), be sure follow the package directions for cooking them before adding them to the dough.  One more thing... the original recipe calls for adding poppy seeds to the top of the loaf, but honestly, they don't stick and I didn't think they added anything, so feel free to skip that step.

Soaker ingredients:

3 tablespoons coarse cornmeal (polenta), millet, quinoa, or amaranth
3 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons wheat bran
1/4 cup water 

Dough ingredients:
3 cups (13.5 ounces) bread flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons cooked brown rice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
3/4 cup water

Step 1.  The day before baking, combine the soaker ingredients in a small bowl.  Stir in the 1/4 cup water, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the soaker sit overnight.

Step 2.  To make the dough, stir together the flour, brown sugar, salt and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the soaker, brown rice, honey, buttermilk and water. Stir or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until the ingredients form a ball.  Add a few drops of water if any of the flour remains separate. 

Step 3.  Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter and begin to knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook).  Knead for about 12 minutes (or mix for 8 to 10 minutes on medium-low speed), sprinkling in flour if needed to make a dough that is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky.  The individual ingredients will homogenize into the greater dough, disappearing to an extent, and the dough will smooth out and become slightly shiny.  (If you are using an electric mixer, hand knead the dough for a minute or two at the end.)  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Step 4.  Remove the dough from the bowl and press it into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches long.  Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf into a lightly oiled 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or onto a sheet pan lined with baking parchment if you are making rolls or freestanding loaves.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.  Mist again, this time with spray oil, and loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap or a towel.

Step 5.  Proof for approximately 90 minutes, or until the dough nearly doubles in size.  If you are using a loaf pan, the dough should crest fully above the lip of the pan, doming about 1 inch above the pan at the center.

Step 6.  About 30 minutes before the bread has finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for about 40 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, until the bread is deep brown and the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.  (Check the bread after about 20 to 30 minutes, and if it's browning quickly, cover with foil to prevent the crust from over cooking)

Step 6.  When the loaf is finished baking, remove immediately from the pan and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Reader Comments (31)

This bread looks so wonderful. I just started learning to make yeasted breads and I can't wait to try this one. I don't even want to buy store bread anymore. Thank you for this beautiful recipe.

May 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMia

A beautiful bread that I can't wait to make. Happy Mother's Day, Patrice!

May 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHaley M.

You're so welcome, Mia!

May 11, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Thank you, Haley! Hope you enjoy the bread... it's pretty good stuff!

May 11, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I've made your cinnamon raisin bread and your wheat sandwich bread and both were fantastic, so if this one's your favorite, it must be mighty good! Guess I'll have to try it out! (I just bought a bag of flax seeds, so it'll give me a way to use them!)

May 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmily H.

Like I said, Emily, it's hard to say that any one of these breads is my favorite, but we're really lovin this one! Hope you do too. Nice to hear from you!

May 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Do you think it would be OK to add some whole wheat flour to this dough?

May 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

You know, I thought about that, too, Caroline. I wanted to follow the recipe exactly the first time I made it, and then we loved it so much that I didn't want to tinker with it. My thought is that you could probably sub out 1/2 cup of the bread flour for whole wheat flour without altering the chemistry too very much. But hey, if you want to add more than that, go for it. I personally like the texture of whole wheat bread. Let us know how it comes out!

May 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I'm not much of a bread baker, but this is the kind of bread I love. It looks so good! Maybe I can talk my Mom into making it for me. :)

May 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGina

I was sort of excited to see this recipe because I bought The Bread Bakers Apprentice book last year and I've had my eye on this bread recipe. I'm so happy to hear that it's this good. I'll be making it really soon. I recently made his cornbread and it was delicious. I noticed that you made it too. Great recipes!

May 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn

This is so perfect! I've been looking for some bread to start making for the family and saw this on Tastespotting. It seems like just the right balance of ingredients that my kids and husband would all like while still being a healthy bread. Going out this weekend to gather ingredients and get it made! I can't wait to taste it. It looks so good! Thank you!

May 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

You're welcome, Carrie! Enjoy the bread! Great to hear from you!!

May 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It's fantastic! The perfect bread for my family. As you suggested, I added flax seeds. I love having a bread that's healthy and tastes this good. I haven't used it for toast yet, but so far we've made some pretty tasty sandwiches with it. It's a keeper!

May 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

You're so welcome, Carrie! I'm really glad you liked the bread... thanks so much for getting back to us!

May 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I love baking all our breads. I am always looking for new and unique recipes. I am excited about trying this one!
I recently stumbled onto your blog and I am loving it! My mom was born and raised in Nebraska and I spent many happy times there as a child, visiting grandparents and cousins. Thanks for your awesome recipes and articles.

May 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary Estep

You're so welcome, Mary! Hope you enjoy the bread! So nice to hear from you!

May 19, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

This bread sounds wonderful! I prepared the soaker last night. It is not 'soupy' at all but rather thick. Is that what it should be like? Also, when you added the flax/chia seeds, were they part of the soaker or just added in with the other ingredients? And, if so, does that alter the quantities at all? Thank you!

May 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Yep. The soaker is actually sort of dry in the morning as the grains soak up that little bit of water. So you're good. I just added flax and chia seeds and some amaranth along with the flour. It doesn't really change the chemistry of the bread, so no need to alter any of the ingredients. Enjoy your bread, Janet!!

May 20, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Finally got around to making this bread and I'm so glad I did. It's wonderful! I still can't believe how easy it is to make and the kids really liked it. Great recipe! Thanks!

July 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Michaelson

I am in the process of making the bread how and am on the first 90 minutes rise. I will of course let you know the outcome in a few hours, but one question I have is why is there no shortening of any kind in this recipe, it is the first bread recipe I've baked that has omitted this ingredient.

The only thing I did different to the recipe is add a Tbsp of flax with the flour. The dough was quite sticky and I did have to use more flour to get it to the tacky stage. Anyway, should be interesting to see the outcome. Thanks for the recipe its much appreciated. Anna

November 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

You're welcome, Anna, and I'm hoping your bread turns out super wonderful. A few of my sandwich bread type recipes don't call for shortening or oil. Not sure why, but I've never felt like it needed it. I make this bread every couple of weeks and have learned just how much flour I need to add to get the perfect consistency. It changes with the weather humidity, and you probably know that since you sound like you're very familiar with bread baking. I usually add amaranth, flax and chia seeds to mine. Can't wait to hear how yours comes out!

November 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Hello Patrice and thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly that was very sweet.

I have to say the bread did turn out very well and does have an undetectable sweetness (try explaining that to someone). Anyway, I followed the recipe as stated and for the soaker used 3 Tbsp of medium ground cornmeal, 3 of oatmeal and 2 Tbsp of wheat germ only and left it over night. I don't have a bread machine so did knead it for a good 12 minutes. The dough was sticky of course so I added more flour til it got to the tacky stage then set it aside to rise.

The second rise called for approximately 90 minutes but the loaf did rise very quickly and was well over the edge of the bread pan in 35 minutes so I put it in the oven so it wouldn't blow up like a balloon, I'm guessing its that crazy Canadian flour we have here.. Everything rises well.

Word to the wise, buy a kitchen scale and internal thermometer it will save you guessing and change your life. I do spend time though converting all these great American recipes to grams and ml's but its worth it, you guys are great in the kitchen.

Anyway, I have finally found my go-to-bread, its taken a long time but it was worth it so thanks for that. I can see how you could make slight variations with this recipe and it still turn out well, its that kind of bread. Thanks again for sharing, its much appreciated.

All the best from Anna ... Vancouver, BC Canada.

November 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

So happy and pleased that you're enjoying the bread, Anna. It does rise really well and I have to keep an eye on it during the final rise and have learned just the right moment to get it in the oven. For others who are thinking of making this bread, I preheat my oven right when I set the dough out to rise in the pan so that I can get it in the oven right when it's ready. Sometimes that only takes 20 or 25 minutes! Thanks so much Anna, for your great input on the recipe. So nice to hear from you. Rarely think here about all of the conversions that must take place in Canada and elsewhere with American recipes! Happy baking!

November 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Thank you for sharing your experience.
RE: adhesion of poppy seeds to dough.
Use egg whites or diluted whole egg solution, and don't just spray them over the dough, push them in with your finger.
The hyperling "Click here for printed recipe" is not working"
thank you again and best regards

May 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Thanks for letting me know about the hyperlink, Rob. That's been fixed! And thanks too for the poppy seed tips!

May 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Expanding on the poppy seed adhesion to dough I made Reinhart's Multigrain bread and instead of using egg as a glaze tried applying only water, BUT patting in the seeds. If you wish to see the good results I can send you a picture of them.
Best regards

May 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Would love to see the photo, Rob! Send it on!

May 24, 2015 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Where can I attach it?

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

You'll have to send it as an attachment to my email address (pberry@circle-b-kitchen.com), Rob. I'll see if I can publish it into the comments section from here.

May 26, 2015 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

can anyone tell me why the bread sinks AFTERit goes in the oven? The rise is wonderful in the pan.

August 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPat

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps the water you used in your dough was warm? If you use warm water with instant yeast, it can't support a long, slow rise and will sink at some point in the baking. Instant yeast needs cool water to begin with. Barring that, I'm not sure what might have caused the sinking.

August 9, 2015 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

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