Cook the Book Fridays – Multigrain Bread

Multigrain Bread

I can’t believe that it’s been more than a month since I shared a meal with my Cook the Book Fridays friends. I’ve missed checking in on everyone’s blog and telling everyone else about another one of My Paris Kitchen‘s terrific recipes.

This week, I couldn’t miss out. Baking bread is one of my favourite meditative occupations and it’s one I don’t do often enough. This recipe might help me with that – here’s a bulleted list to prove it:

  • The only preparation needed is a starter that’s mixed the night before and left to bubble away in a warmish place (which is easier now that the weather is finally warming up).
  • It’s kneaded in the stand mixer, but the dough isn’t taxing on my KitchenAid’s motor.
  • It uses items I regularly stock, like bread flour and a variety of seeds, requiring only one addition to my pantry – a $3.00 bag of whole wheat pastry flour.
  • It’s a great excuse to break out my Dutch oven, which gives it a perfectly chewy, crisp crust.
  • The crumb is tender and almost uniform, making this a candidate for all-time favourite sandwich bread.
  • It’s much more flavourful than any grocery store multigrain and it’s not that far removed from a good bakery loaf.
  • It’s easily adaptable to whatever add-ins your pantry can provide.

If that hasn’t convinced you to try this bread, perhaps the recipe itself might. You can find it over on Fine Cooking. It’s a perfect weekend bread. You only have to attend to it for a few minutes at a time, over the course of a morning or afternoon, while you get on with chores, cooking, or crosswords. (Or the much more exciting things you may be getting up to on Saturday – I choose comfort and alliteration, for this weekend at least.)

Multigrain Bread, from starter to finish.

I didn’t have any issues making the bread, save for needing to bake it about ten minutes longer than the recipe called for. Some of the other cooks in our group needed to adjust the temperature, timing, or hydration a little for their loaves. I took Betsy‘s advice and added the seeds partway through the initial knead, wrapping a kitchen towel around my stand mixer to avoid flying flax seeds.

Multigrain Bread, full of seeds

The only other problem I had was patience. I cut into it before it was cool, slightly munching the edge of the cut loaf, as you can see in the photo above. The good news is that when it was truly cool, it cut like a dream. And I don’t regret my impatience, because there are few pleasures like warm, fresh bread slathered with butter. It’s certainly worth one minorly crumpled crust.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.


FFWD – Provençal Olive Fougasse

A close shot across the surface of the baked fougasse.

I once knew someone who believed that a restaurant that didn’t bring bread to the table shortly after you were seated didn’t deserve a clientele. I’m not that strict, but a meal started with bread fulfils some deep-seated ideas of sharing and conviviality for me, especially when the bread is homemade.

Bread-making is a satisfying activity, beginning with the tactile pleasures of kneading and shaping the dough. By the time it’s brought to table, all the senses become engaged. Knowing that the bread has been made to share with exactly those people around the table engages the heart, as well.

I made two loaves of this fougasse during the last bakestravaganza with my family. What was planned as a day’s baking stretched into a weekend, as much of what we were making needed time to rise and rest between steps. You can see what we worked on together over here. I also managed to catch up on the Navarin Printanier from a couple of weeks ago (which I’ll post about soon) and this week’s fougasse.

I put together this dough late the second night and baked it between the steps of our other recipes. My niece zested a lemon for me while I chopped olives and rosemary. These were added to the dough at the end of the kneading process (all hail the KitchenAid, once again). Once the dough had risen, it went into the fridge for an overnight rest (right beside the brioche dough we’d prepared for the pecan sticky buns that were going to keep us busy for much of the next day).

Dough before rise.

Dough before rise.


The dough reminded us of pizza dough, a little sticky and stretchy, but ultimately agreeable. It was easy to roll and slash the dough into the traditional leaf shape, but my attempt to make a salmon shape with the second piece of dough turned into an oval of bread with asymmetrical slashes. Not ugly, but not elegant, either. We ate it first.

The finished fougasse, with the second loaf in the background with some cornichons and pickled asparagus.

The first loaf disappeared that afternoon, as people passed through the room where it was cooling, and we shared the second with our dinner of lamb stew. Pulling pieces from the loaves gave us almost as much pleasure as eating it and it was just as good on its own as it was sopping up the gravy of the stew. Sharing one loaf, all hands breaking off their portions, made our meal seem like a feast and a celebration of the cooking and baking we’d done together over the weekend.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Provençal Olive Fougasse