I like this bread

 Yes, I do. Doo do doo do doo do do doo. Doo do doo do doo do do doo.

So much that I was compelled to insert some Lou Reed-esque rhythms into this ramble. 

Also, we got a knife magnet rack thingy. It's pretty great as well.

This, my current favourite of homemade breads, was adapted from one of my favouritest of recipe writers - Martha Rose Schulman. I was first introduced to her by chance, when I borrowed Great Breads from the library in preparation for a serious wedding bread baking session. We kneaded some beauties (and some sluts), shuttled loaves from oven to oven, and smoked cigarettes that increasingly delirious night. While some recipes (cough, Jamie, cough, Oliver) gave us trouble, all of Martha's worked beautifully.

Any bread baking I did at home took a back seat when I started working at a bakery. Why bother when you can get something approximately one billion times better every day, and for free? But now that my bread line is cut off, I've begun the baking again. You know what? It's nice. I reunited myself with Great Breads and made a few tweaks to get exactly the kind of bread I craved. I added more seeds, of all colours and sorts, as well as millet and used an egg white instead of a whole egg for the wash. (I hate having to crack a whole egg for that sort of thing. You never use it all!) It gave the bread a slick sheen.

Twas just the sort of bread I desired for slathering with peanut butter, or smashing sardines and avocado onto. Cold pork, split pea and spinach mash, strawberry jam. This baby wants to be covered. A twinge sweet, a bit hearty and a lot crunchy. I don't know what else to say. I like it a lot!

Sesame-Grain Bread
Slightly adapted from Great Breads

For the sponge:
1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 cups lukewarm water
2 tbsp mild-flavoured honey
2 tbsp molasses
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

For the dough:
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower, safflower or canola oil
1 tbsp salt
3/4 cup flaked or rolled oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup toasted millet
about 2-2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

For the loaves:
1 egg white, beaten, for egg wash
1 heaping tablespoon white sesame seeds

To make the sponge: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. (I like to rub the yeast with my fingers here to coax it into dissolving). Mix in the honey and molasses. With a wooden spoon or large whisk, stir in the white and whole wheat flours, 1 cup at a time. When all of the flour has been added, stir by hand 100 times, changing directions every once in awhile and scraping down the sides; the sponge will be the consistency of thick mud. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and set in a warm place for 1 hour, until bubbly.

To make the dough: Place the sesame and flax seeds in a mortar or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pound or process until just cracked. Do not overprocess. Fold the oil and then the salt into the sponge, using a wooden spoon, and turning the bowl between folds. Fold in the oats, cornmeal and millet; fold in the sesame and flax seeds.

Begin folding in the whole wheat flour. After about 1 1/2 cups have been added, the dough should hold together in a sticky mass. Place a large handful of flour on the work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and begin kneading. Knead, adding more flour as necessary, for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough will be dense, but should become stiff and elastic as you knead, with a slightly tacky surface. Shape into a ball. Rinse, dry and lightly oil the bowl. Place the dough in it, turning to coat it with the oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

Punch down the dough, cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes, or until nearly doubled. Generously butter or oil two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

To make the loaves: Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a couple of times and divide the dough in half. Press one half into a rectangle about 1-inch thick and a little longer than the loaf pan. Roll up the rectangle tightly, like a sausage, and pinch it together firmly along the lengthwise crease. Rock the  loaf gently to give it a rounded shape. Fold in the two ends toward the centre and pinch the folds. Place in a loaf pan, first upside down, then right side up, to coat with the oil. Repeat with the remaining dough half. Brush the loaves lightly with the egg wash, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and brush again. Cover and let rise until the tops of the loaves curve above the side of the pans, 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the weather.

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 F, with a rack in the middle. Slash the loaves across the top with a razor blade or sharp knife. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, brushing halfway through with the egg wash. The bread is done when it is golden brown, and responds to tapping with a hollow sound. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Makes 2 loaves, one for feeding and one for freezing.

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