“Vogel’s-style” no-knead grain bread

25 September 2013

Soft-boiled eggs with grain bread In my opinion, Jim Lahey’s no knead bread recipe is the best non-sourdough recipe for white bread (incidentally, there is a typo in that recipe: 12 fluid ounces is 355 ml, not 345 ml). I’ve adapted Lahey’s no-knead technique to make a no-knead grain bread that tastes similar to Vogel’s, but with a much moister crumb.

The super-moist crumb of this bread was originally accidental. Adding wet grains to an already very wet dough renders the dough very difficult to handle, but the resulting bread is worth the trouble!

For the sake of convenience, I normally use a grain and seed mix that I buy from a local supermarket. But of course, you can make your own, and it’s worth experimenting to figure out what mixture of grains and seeds you like best. I particularly like rolled oats, rye flakes, kibbled wheat, pearl barley, and sunflower seeds.

In terms of timing, I suggest putting the grains on to soak overnight, making the dough first thing in the morning, and baking in the evening. The bread will set properly overnight, ready for toasting in the morning.

  • For two small loaves or one large loaf:
    100 g mixed grains and seeds
    330 g high grade flour
    100 g wholemeal flour
    10 g salt
    ½ tsp instant yeast

  • At least a few hours ahead, pour enough boiling water over the mixed grains to fully cover them. Stir the water through, and leave the grains to soak. When it comes time to make the dough, use a sieve to drain the grains as well as you can.

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the soaked grains along with 350 ml of cold water. Mix everything together to form a very wet dough (more of a batter, really). Leave the dough to ferment for about 12 hours.

  • Scrape the dough out onto a heavily-floured work surface, being careful not to break the delicate gluten structure. Fold the dough in thirds, like a letter. If you’re making more than one loaf, portion the dough using a dough scraper or a knife. Fold each portion in thirds once again.

  • Gently press each portion of dough into a loaf pan. I personally use non-stick silicone pans, but if you use some other type you should oil and flour them as necessary to prevent sticking. Proof the loaves for 1½–2 hours, until they have almost doubled in size.

  • Bake the loaves in a 200°C oven for about half an hour, until they have set. Then, remove the loaves from their pans and return them to the oven on a tray or rack. Bake for another 20 minutes or so, to crisp up the sides. The loaves will be done once the crust has hardened, and when they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

  • As I mentioned earlier, this bread has a very moist crumb. If you cut into the bread when it’s fresh you’ll completely squash it, so I suggest you leave it to cool for several hours, or even overnight.