Monday 24 May 2010

Dan Lepard’s multigrain and honey bread

Sylvia and I headed to the airport on Saturday morning to greet E with big smiles and take him home. I was very pleased to have brownies and gingerbread to offer him but had been itching to try some new bread I had seen on Munchkin Mail last week. It promised to be very easy but, more importantly, I have been looking for a good multigrain bread recipe and was won over by the interesting mix of grains.

Dan Lepard calls it the easiest loaf in the world and I would quibble with this, having found out how easy Jim Lahey's no-knead bread is but semantics aside, this is a most excellent recipe. (As an aside, I have recently being gently rebuked at work for being too literal with the truth in newsletter articles so one might claim that Dan was just in search of a good headline.) In fact, the two recipes have some similarities in that they are both more interesting in letting the dough sit for a reasonable length of time to let the dough develop slowly rather than pounding it like a punching bag. Not much stress relief but excellent bread!

Dan does suggest in his basic techniques advice that the kneading is a token gesture and it is the time it sits and the interactions between the ingredients that makes more of a difference. I was interested to read him say that if you reduce the salt, the bread will rise faster. I sometimes do this because I find that some bread recipes have too much salt for my liking.

Like the no-knead bread, this recipe is forgiving of busy lifestyles. Rather than having to attend to my dough, I was able to leave it and watch E unpack his case to produce all manner of cute clothes for Sylvia, cookery magazines/books for me, and momentos of his recently departed mother. I was also able to leave the dough and go shopping by myself, a rare treat when I have been the sole carer of an active toddler for the past couple of weeks. I have written up notes on how I made the bread and you will see I didn't always read the recipe too closely. When you hear that I put the dough in the oven while trying to wash the dishes, help E get Sylvia to sleep, and watch telly, I hope you will understand why.

After reading Jim Lahey's advice that bread straight out of the oven is still baking and should cool before it is cut, I had the patience to wait for about an hour before cutting myself a slice. By then E and Sylvia were sound asleep. I ate it warm with butter and marvelled at how good it tasted. The dark crust that I had worried I had burnt was soft and full of flavour. The middle was slightly sweet and full of interesting textures. There are other variations at the webpage where I found the article so I will be back for more.

The loaf was eagerly sliced through on Sunday. E loved it with a bit of cheese. So did Sylvia and I but it needed something else. I had some pesto in the fridge and blitzed a few spoonfuls with a tin of cannelini beans and a squeeze of lemon juice to make a lovely dip that all of us enjoyed. This dip was excellent in a sandwich with roasted pumpkin and brussells sprouts today, though I am still envious of Lysy's working lunch she made with this bread accompanied by salad, cheese, pickles and hummus. So much nicer than the soggy sandwiches caters often deliver to our working lunches.

This is a bread I would welcome at any lunch, a bread I will make again, a bread I am proud to share. I am sending it to Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly round up of yeast baking on the blogs at Yeastspotting. I have just noticed that there is a search field for YeastSpotting - there are always such fantastic breads here and now you can search them so I recommend you check them out if you are interested in baking bread.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WTSIM ... Red Onion, Feta and Olive Tart
This time two years ago: Promoting Promite
This time three years ago: Where have all the vegetarian salads gone?

Dan Lepard’s multigrain and honey bread
Adapted from The Guardian, Saturday 24 November 2007

For the sponge:
225ml warm water (about 30-35C)
1 level tsp easy-blend yeast
175g strong white bread flour

For the grains:
50g rolled oats
50g linseeds (flax seeds)
25g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
3 tbsp honey
100ml boiling water

For the dough:
100g strong white bread flour
75g wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
25g unsalted butter

First mix the flour, lukewarm water and yeast to make the sponge. Dan says to scald a big mixing bowl but I forgot. He said to cover and leave for 2-4 hours or overnight. I left mine 6 hours because I was busy but I was glad I waited because after 2 hours it looks fairly similar but after 6 hours the sponge was nice and bubbly which I am sure made a difference.

While the sponge is rising, prepare the grains by mixing all the ingredients (oats, grains, honey and water) together in a small bowl. Leave to cool.

When the sponge is ready mix in the soaked and cooled grains. Then rub butter into the remaining flours and salt in a medium bowl, and stir into the sponge. Mine was quite stiff. Cover and leave in the bowl for 10 minutes. Then knead lightly on a well floured board (for about 1 minutes) 3 times at 10 minute intervals. NB I used a lightly floured board but I now have read Dan’s basic techniques notes where he says that he just uses a lightly oiled board to knead to avoid having to add more flour (which changes the moisture content) and he only kneads for 8-10 seconds.

Dan then advises to lightly flour the bench, roll out the dough, roll it up and put it in a 2lb loaf tin but I just made it into a log and put is on a baking tray. I greased the tray and then scattered some wheat germ on it. (But I might try my loaf tin next time). Cover and leave in a warm place for about 1½ hours until the dough doubles in size. I placed clingwrap on it and it stuck so next time maybe I need to grease the plastic or flour the dough. Dan says to slash with a razor or serrated knife – I tried but am unfamiliar with the technique and slashed and then scattered with wheat germ rather than the other way and as a result found my slashes full of wheat germ.

Heat the oven to at least 220C – 240 C and steam if you like. Dan talks about steaming in his notes but I hadn’t read these and just did a half-hearted squirt of water into my oven which probably didn’t do much. I cooked it for 20 minutes at 240 C and found it was very dark coloured. So when the recipe instructed to bake at 200 C for the next 20 minutes I put mine on the middle of my oven. I also cooked it upside down for another 5-10 minutes to make sure the bottom was brown enough. Keeps for 2-3 days.

On the Stereo: 
Classical Brits 2010 (Giveaway with the Mail on Sunday): Various Artists


  1. What a heavenly loaf of bread Johanna! I am NOT a bread baker by any means. However, my daughter is always in search of a good bread recipe, and this sounds right up her alley.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  2. This looks like a wonderful loaf. I love ones with lots of grains and seeds in too. The texture inside looks so soft and springy. Your pesto bean spread sounds delicious too

  3. This bread looks too good to be true, Johanna. Your blog is lovely! This is my first visit, but I am sure to return for seconds.

  4. Love that scoring on the top of the loaf. This is a really excellent loaf. Dan Lepard has wonderful breads and great wisdoms.
    What I like very much about this post is how well you show that bread is so much more forgiving than so many people think. Really it's the Baker who's in control but most just don't know it.

  5. Johanna, what a nice loaf of the idea of the grains in it...nice pictures as well :-)

  6. This bread looks so good - and I think I could eat the honey coated seed mix all by itself! I like Dan Lepard's recipes, though I am yet to try one from my burgeoning collection.

  7. What a fantastic looking loaf Johanna! I don't think I've ever made a multigrained loaf despite preferring them to eat! :) And hehe Mr NQN is also a very literal person :P

  8. Omg! What an excellent dough of bread, Johanna! I’m sort of back into bread making these days. Will be making this for sure.

  9. I'd like to think I'd make this, but I know, deep down, that I'd never make it through the whole recipe. I'd end up eating the honey grain and seed misture with a spoon. :)

    Hope the trip was comforting for E - thoughts remain with you all.

  10. Looks lovely! I just got my first loaf of plain white bread working well, this will have to be the follow-up. :)

    It seems a bit off to add this to the bread post, but I wanted to thank you for the gluten-free adaptation advice from several (many) posts ago. Ro-monster and her mum are still getting used to everything, but all your baking inspiration was much appreciated. :)

  11. Thanks Louise - hope your daughter might find it a good recipe to try and that you get a slice

    Thanks Katie - yes very soft but satisfying - and fresh bread is always great with a good dip

    Thanks Barbara - lovely to have you visiting and will look forward to more visits

    Thanks Tanna - love your wisdom about baking bread - amazing how much easier it feels when I don't feel beholden to the clock

    Thanks Juliana - the grains really make this loaf wonderful and more nutritious

    Thanks Cakelaw - I have read many Dan Lepard recipes on blogs and am very pleased to finally try one and find it as good as everyone else says

    Thanks Lorraine - many of the recipes I have seen for multi grain bread have grains that I don't have so I was pleased to find this one (I even added pumpkin seeds because I had them even though dan didn't use them)

    Thanks Anh - glad to hear you are baking bread again - always make a place feel like home - and I can recommend trying this no-knead or low-knead methods

    Thanks Hannah - the honey and grains did look very tempting but so sweet

    Thanks Scarabee - once you have mastered the white loaf the sky's the limit with bread baking - good luck with trying other recipes like this one - and thanks for the update on your friends - I have drafted a post on GF but just wanting to check with a few people before posting it. Have a GF cookie recipe coming up soon

  12. I'm so glad you liked the bread - it's a winner, isn't it!!

  13. This looks like a very tasty loaf and I'm all for bread that is easy to make. Still haven't come across anything quite as easy to make as my habitual rye sourdough, but I'm open to suggestions.

  14. oh my goodness, that looks absolutely delicious!

  15. Thanks Lysy - sure is

    Thanks Choclette - would love to be a regular sourdough baker but never got as far as getting a starter - maybe one day

    Thanks Taranii - yes indeed

  16. My kind of loaf for sure! Wonderful.

  17. Wow! Great looking loaf. I'll have to try this one.

  18. It sounds phenomenal. I am so in awe of your breadbaking skills! Two weeks on your own with Sylvia must have been quite a lot, though I'm sure E had no picnic going through his Mum's things. Nice that he was able to bring some things back for both of you, though. :)

  19. I love the look of this bread and all of the seeds! And the cross hatched pattern on top. And the dark crust. Yum it looks just perfect! And you made sandwiches out of it with roasted pumpkin and brussel sprouts?! So jealous. I'm sad that brussel sprouts are gone now.


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