Monday, November 2, 2009

BBA Challenge #20: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

When I lived in Brooklyn, there was this small cafe on Graham Avenue called Phoebe's. It took me a while this morning to remember what it was called, but I was able to somehow cull it from the inner reaches of my brain. I remember eating there every now and again, and often having lunch there on Tuesdays or Thursdays. It was odd. I would plan my days off to match so that I always had the same waitstaff. The thing I loved most about the place was this amazing multi-grain bread that I have never been able to reproduce. It just had everything in it and was so light and amazing toasted.

When I started this Challenge, I never thought I'd have so many trips into my memory based on bread. Italian Bread reminded me of buying soft loaves at Key Food, Cinnamon Buns reminded me of the very last Cinnabon I had at Newark Airport, hungry for anything, and finding that there were close to zero vegetarian options in the building. Bagels reminded me of my time at college, discovering what Bagels were. Well, that, the experience of having all manner of bad to good bagels in New York. I never thought this bread would bring back such a specific memory of days spent reading at a cafe I haven't thought about in years.

I love any excuse to use buttermilk in bread. The weird thing about it here is that is sold in rather large yogurt-type containers. The Becher is made of thin plastic with a foil lid. There is no additional lid for saving it. Look again at the container. Notice something odd? Like a glass of delicious Buttermilk with a straw sticking out? Yeah. They drink it here, though most dispense with the glass and straw, peel pack a corner of the foil and just drink from the package.

The mise en place was relatively simple. I did forget to photograph the soaker grains, but they are in the upper left of the photograph. Also, you have to have brown rice left over. We had some Mexican Rice left over- oil toasted and cooked in tomato sauce with cilantro. I didn't notice any influence of the rice to the final bread flavor, however.

The mixture started out watery. With the DLX, you have to add the water in first, otherwise it can't harness the awesome power of friction.

And this is what it looks like when it's done and ready to be risen.

In case you are wondering, I've adopted the European way of writing the number '1' so that it looks like a depressed '7'. The above says 11:45. If the number was a 7, it would look happy, but have a line through it.

Here, you roll out the dough into a rectangle. Oh, wait scratch that. I had read on other blogs that the bread is too much for a single loaf pan, so I realized I wasn't going to go further with the shaping.

So I tried my hand at a free-form batard and put it on the peel to rise.

After about 45 minutes it had grown into a monster. I slit and slid it onto the baking stone.

And here is where I normally eyeball the bread. Now, however. I take the temperature to test for doneness. It hasn't failed me at all. I have to interject here, though- The book is not written for an international audience, so the measurements are in ounces, which I convert to grams, and in Fahrenheit, which I convert when it comes to baking temperatures. For inner temperature, I just get out my Fahrenheit thermometer.

The bread totally exploded. In a good way. It completely opened up in the first fifteen minutes and looked like another bread was baking in its place. Nevertheless, it browned beautifully.

Because it opened so much, it lost much of its batard shape. It was more oval than anything.

But still amazing.

And, in a return to form, I took a picture of the bottom of the bread.

The color of the crumb was my favorite part of the bread. It was so creamy. Perhaps from the brown sugar, perhaps from the rice.

Although it didn't taste like the bread at Phoebes- It wasn't even close- the bread was amazing. Sweet in an understated way, and just the right flavor of- I'm not going to say health, because it didn't taste healthy. It just tasted amazing. The flavor you would expect the word bread to taste like.

Other Multigrain Bread Extraordinary Bakers include:

Anne from Rosemary and Garlic

Deborah from Italian Food Forever

Sally from Bewitching Kitchen

Susie from Susie's Home and Hobbies

You can learn more about the challenge at the BBA page at Pinch My Salt.


  1. WOW! That looks amazing. I love the color you achieved and the shape looks very cool. The crumb shot makes me want to grab a slice right off the computer screen.

    Nicely done!

  2. I love this bread. I've made it a few times. It's very delicious and makes the most wonderful toast. I like your bread memories.

  3. Love the free form loaf and the 'exploding' 2nd loaf ~ gotta get back to the BBA....thanks for the inspiration.

  4. I am hungry for your bread. Not your buttermilk. I really enjoy the flavor that it adds to bread and waffles, but straight from the container? This will be a loaf that I return to again and again.

  5. I swallowed really hard (a couple of times, actually) when I read about drinking buttermilk...eww.

    Your loaf is lovely Daniel. We really liked this bread too.

  6. I love the color of the crust and also the shape.

    I drink homemade buttermilk once in a while, it's actually delicious and refreshing.:)