Cool completely before slicing. I am bad at that. In fact, in my pre-blogging life, I don't think I ever once obeyed that rule. Other rules I am bad at obeying include: cool completely before frosting, cool completely before churning in your ice cream maker, cool completely before dipping in chocolate, allow the pan to cool completely before making the next batch, cool completely before topping with sugar and torching up a delicious, crackly, burnt caramel crust. It's torture!
I just don't possess the self control to allow something tempting to sit there, wafting away its warm deliciousness, while I bite my nails and make myself busy trying to distract myself from the call of the fresh something, sitting on top of my stove. I may be completely cool myself, but "cool completely" is still usually beyond my reach.
However, now that I am taking photos of those warm, fresh somethings, I have learned to flex my resistance muscle and wait out the cooling period, for the sake of a prettier picture. I realize what a difference it makes to allow fresh bread to fully cool off before slicing through. My patience was happily rewarded with tidy, thin slices of bread, perfect for sandwiches - rather than the assymmetrical hunk I would normally carve off (which is equally delicious, just less attractive in photos).
This bread was a product of my inspiration at 12:30 a.m. last night (this morning?). Which turned into 1:30 a.m. because of the time change. I intend to start baking my own bread on a regular basis, so this loaf embodies the beginning of a whole new, made-from-scratch, chapter of my life. It is a product of my bread machine, lovely little apparatus that it is. The trick is to put the liquids in first, then the flour and other dry ingredients, and sprinkle the yeast on top, making sure that it doesn't touch the water until the mixing process begins. I used a basic bread recipe, and adjusted it to include lots of yummy whole grains and seeds. After dumping all the ingredients into the machine, I set the timer for 8:30 a.m. (which came far too quickly due to middle-of-the-night breadmaking urges and the clock being sprung ahead) and awoke this morning to the tantalizing smell of fresh bread.
The resulting loaf is hearty, nutty, and flavourful. Perfect for slathering with almond butter and honey, or a smear of grainy mustard and some sliced turkey. Or eaten warm from the oven (screw the cool completely!) with melt-y Nutella.
Mixed Grain Bread
As you can see, there is lots of room to play around with this recipe, using different flours, grains and seeds. I used 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of bread flour, and 1 cup of oats, and some flaxseeds, meusli cereal, sunflower seeds, and rye flakes to make up the remaining 1 cup of add-ins.
2 cups water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp oil
4 cups flour (you can use whole wheat, all-purpose, bread flour, or a combination... experiment!)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup of add-ins (i.e. seeds, rolled cereals, whole grains (pre-cooked if any bigger than quinoa), Red River, bran, etc... use your imagination!)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp (one envelope) instant yeast
Using a Bread Machine
1. Measure the ingredients into your bread machine in the order listed, making sure the yeast does not touch the liquid. Set your machine to the "Whole Wheat" setting, and press "Start" or set the timer for the morning.
Using the Conventional Method
1. Mix the flour, oats and additional cereals, grains, and/or seeds, the salt, and the instant yeast in a large bowl. Combine the water, molasses, and oil in a separate bowl. Stir the water mixture into the dry ingredients to form a sticky dough.
2. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, till dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean dishcloth, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3. Punch down the dough, and divide equally into two pieces. Shape into loaves and place each into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Cover again with a towel, and let rise until doubled, about one hour this time.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place loaves on bottom rack for 25 to 30 minutes until well browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
*Cool completely before slicing*