It started simply enough. I needed to make bread this weekend for sandwiches this week. Since I hadn't gotten my starter out of the refrigerator and activated soon enough, it had to be a yeasted dough. And there are so many formulas to try in BBA . . .
After taking stock of time requirements and ingredient availability, the winner was Reinhart's Multigrain Extraordinaire Bread, a successor to his Struan bread. With a few modifications, as it turned out. Cornmeal was on hand, although not the coarse polenta grind. No wheat bran, but I figured that substituting 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the white flour ought to get me fairly close. No brown rice, either. However, there was some whole flax seed available, so why not crush some of that and put it in the soaker? Perhaps most unusual, I actually had buttermilk in the refrigerator. That doesn't happen often.
So, the soaker was constructed with crushed flaxseed in place of the missing wheat bran. Note to self: next time try using the blender to chop or grind the flaxseed. It has to be easier than using the mortar and pestle. (I don't have a grain mill on hand.) The following day I put together the rest of the dough pretty much per instructions, other than substituting in whole wheat flour for one of the 3 cups of bread flour and omitting the brown rice. The dough was stickier than I anticipated and absorbed nearly a cup of flour during the recommended 12-minute kneading. Toward the end of the kneading, the gluten was becoming very well developed. Has anyone tried using an autolyse with this recipe? It seems that it might cut down on the time required to knead the dough.
The dough was nearly doubled in about 60-70 minutes of bulk ferment and then shaped into loaves and put into pans for the second ferment. The baking instructions had about the widest latitude that I have seen for recommended baking time: 40 to 60 minutes for loaves in pans. When checked at 45 minutes, the internal temperature was about 175F, so back into the oven for another 10 minutes. At the second check, the internal temperature was between 185F and 190F. They also had a nice hollow sound when thumped that was missing at the first check.
Observations: 1) This bread is fairly forgiving of modifications. Replacing 1/3 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour doesn't appear to have had an ill effects on texture or flavor; I should probably admit to enjoying whole-grain breads to all-white varieties. 2) The addition of the flaxseed lends a nice crunch in the finished bread. 3) This bread is sweet! That isn't a complaint, although probably the brown sugar or the honey alone would be adequate for sweetening. I think dropping the brown sugar entirely and adding a tablespoon of dark molasses in combination with the honey would make for an interesting flavor. 4) Even with all of that sugar and honey, the bread really didn't develop a dark crust. Apparently the 350F temperature isn't high enough to drive a lot of caramelization on the crust.
All in all, a very pleasing outcome, especially in view of the liberties that I took with the ingredients. And yes, today's sandwich at lunch time was delicious!