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a fresh-baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread in a cast iron pot at lynnecury.com.

No-Knead Multigrain Bread Lightens Our Labors

It is a miracle to bake crusty loaves of no-knead bread without following the old rules of bread baking. This multigrain loaf has made a believer out of me.

Why, you may wonder, would I ever resist a technique that produces wonderful results with the lightest workload?

If I could answer that question, every aspect of my life would immediately improve. Also, I’d  have resumed regular home bread baking sooner than now.

Case in point: no-knead bread.

Making Peace with No-Knead Bread

Years ago (before kids), I was a committed sourdough bread baker, even entertaining notions of opening a bread bakery.

I trained by master bakers in France, I honored the sacrament-like traditions with bread dough. I relished hand shaping all those marvelous shapes–from boules (rounds), bâtards (footballs) and épis (wheat shafts).

A baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread at lynnecurry.com.

When the no-knead method came along, I believed in it theoretically, since I had tasted originator Jim Lahey’s spectacular Italian-style breads. And I even understood the basic science of it. Still, I resisted.

How No-Knead Works

{Skip this unless you’re a food science geek.} Gluten, which is formed from glutenin and gliadin in the presence of a liquid to create the network that traps carbon dioxide to rise the bread.

It develops in three ways: 1) mechanically (mixing/kneading); 2) chemically (oxidizers, like ascorbic acid); or 3) fermentatively, (during rising). Learn more.

I read all about no-knead bread, but stayed stuck with my old ways.

It’s easier to understand how no-knead bread works than to comprehend how long it took me to adopt slow and life-freeing bread baking.

a bowl of dough rising to make no-knead multigrain bread at lynnecurry.com.

While we’re toiling at the office, blogging, hiking, lying around watching movies, whatever, the natural fermentation in the dough provides everything it needs to become bread.

Trust in No-Knead Bread

Resistance is a funny thing, rooted as it is in habit and familiarity. Overcoming it takes a tiny leap of faith, and then comes change.

The only downside is that the gluten structure is not strong enough to make those eye-catching self-supporting bread shapes. So, you need to bake it in a pot.

Because once I tried it–and baked several crusty, crackling rounds of bread, including a wonderfully, seedy multigrain–my doubts evaporated like oven steam.

A baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread at lynnecurry.com.

After years of following the sacred steps of bread baking, I still can’t quite believe no-knead bread is possible. {And I often wonder what my instructors in France think of these new-fangled techniques.}

It is simply a miracle to make such good bread by mixing ingredients in a bowl, letting the dough sit around for a full sleep cycle and then baking it in a hot covered pot.

Nonetheless, I’ve adopted the no-knead way of life. And I’ve adapted the method to produce my favorite breads, including this multigrain and seedy no-knead loaf.

I hope it changes your life the same way it has mine.

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No-Knead Multigrain Bread

This recipe is my simplified, seedier version (with weights added so there’s no need for measuring cups) of Portland baker and food writer Ellen Jackson’s Multigrain No-Knead Bread.

Course Breads
Servings 1 round loaf
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey brown rice syrup or molasses
  • 2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup (3.75 ounces) rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) raw sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces) raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup (1.5 ounces) multigrain cereal, plus additional for coating bowl such as Bob’s Red Mill 8-grain cereal
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces) brown or gold flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  1. Stir the water, yeast, honey, flours, salt, cereal and seeds together in a large bowl with a rubber spatula until they combine into a sticky, lumpy dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to ferment and rise at room temperature for at least 12 and up to 20 hours.

  2. Dust the counter with flour and scrape the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and fold the dough over itself a few times to help develop the gluten and let it rest on the counter for about 15 minutes. 

  3. Meanwhile, line a large bowl about the size of a colander with a linen kitchen towel and sprinkle it thickly flour all the way up the sides followed by the additional multigrain cereal and the pumpkin seeds.

  4. Dust your hands with flour and scoop up the dough, tucking the edges under to form a rough ball. Flip it over, smooth side down into the prepared bowl. Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. About thirty minutes in advance of baking, center the oven rack and place a 6-8-quart cast-iron or enamel casserole with a lid on it. Preheat the oven to 500°F. 

  6. When the loaf has risen for 1 1/2 hours and feels pillowy, remove the hot casserole from the oven onto a hot pad. Carefully lift off the lid and set it nearby. Lift the dough in the towel from the colander and in one smooth motion, flip the dough seam side down into the hot pot, holding back the towel. If you’d like, score the top of the loaf with a serrated knife or just let the loaf split naturally in the oven. Use potholders to put on the lid and slip it into the oven.

  7. Reduce the heat to 450°F and set the timer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake the loaf uncovered for 20-30 minutes more until it is darkly browned. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and leave it to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Comments

  1. JoeyD

    Do you think this dough will fit in a 9.25×5.25×2.75 loaf pan? I understand the crust will be softer cooking in that vessel. I will also fill a cast iron dish with ice cubes for steam/oven spring.

    1. I think it’s too much dough for a standard loaf pan but you can try it. Or you could bake it in an 9-inch round cake pan. Either way, I’m sure it will be very tasty. Good luck!

    2. JoeyD

      Thanks for the follow-up! Although it overproofed some (returned home at hour than anticipated, needed to preheat oven, etc) it was really good and forgiving. I’m going to try it again when I’m certain to be around to monitor it better. I will add some sweetness in the form of honey and may try bread flour to experience. Best thing about bread baking is even the mistakes are great!

  2. JoeyD

    Edit: I tried molasses the first time and will try honey instead

    1. You’re so right, Joey. It’s hard to go wrong and even the non-Instragrammable loaves are worth savoring.

  3. Ida

    Would like to make this with more honey. Having trouble adjusting the liquid. Any help appreciated!

    1. You can definitely add more honey, Ida. When you say you’re having trouble with the liquid, what do you mean?

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