Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Sliced Multigrain Bread

Continuing on with the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, I have reached the 20th bread in the book – Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire.  The name makes me laugh, but this bread truly is extraordinary.  It has a moist and chewy crumb that will stand up to just about any sandwich filling you can dream up, but it’s by no means dense or heavy.  And it makes some of the best toast I’ve ever had.

This one is a two-day process because the grains need to be soaked overnight, but the bread is quite simple to make and it’s definitely one of my favorites so far.  My only regret is that I didn’t make a double batch.

Grain Soaker

As you might have guessed, the formula includes multiple grains. The bowl pictured above contains coarse cornmeal, rolled oats, and wheat bran mixed with just enough water to moisten it all.  These grains were soaked overnight to activate enzymes and break out the natural sugars.  All that science stuff is still a bit over my head, but the soaker method always seems to work great.  You may also use other types of grains – millet, quinoa, amaranth, wheat, buckwheat, and triticale flakes were all listed as options.  I used what I had on hand.

Dry Ingredients

After soaking the grains, it’s time to make the dough.  First, stir together the dry ingredients:  bread flour, brown sugar, salt, and instant yeast.


Next, combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl:  buttermilk, water, honey, and a few tablespoons of cooked brown rice.

Ready for Mixing

The wet ingredients are then added to the dry ingredients and everything gets mixed together.  As usual, I relied on my trusty KitchenAid mixer, but this step can easily be done with a wooden spoon.


Mix on low speed until everything is combined and the dough forms a ball.  My dough was obviously a little too wet, so it didn’t form a ball.   But remember, if it’s too wet, just add flour a little at a time until the dough feels right.  And if the dough feels too dry and there is still loose flour left in the bottom of the bowl, add a few drops of water.

Once the ingredients have been mixed together, it’s time to knead.  If you’re using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook.  If kneading by hand, dump the dough out onto a floured surface and get to work!

Kneaded by Machine

I kneaded the dough in the mixer for about 8 minutes.  Mr. Reinhart suggests that you finish the last couple of minutes kneading by hand, so I purposely left the dough a bit wet knowing I would be kneading in extra flour by hand.

Ready for Hand Kneading

I dumped the sticky ball of dough out onto my floured counter and dusted my hands with flour.


I kneaded it for about two extra minutes, until the dough was smooth and shiny, tacky but no longer sticky.  At this point, you can check for gluten development using the windowpane test.  I forgot to do it this time.

Bulk Fermentation

Next, I placed the ball of dough into a greased container.  I used to let the dough rise in a regular bowl, but I recently bought this big clear pitcher with markings on the side that allow me to more accurately judge when the dough has doubled in size.  Check your local restaurant supply store – they have all kinds of fun toys like this.


I didn’t realize how cool it was in my kitchen when I left the dough on the counter to rise.  Mine took about 2 1/2 hours to double in size, but if you let it rise in a warm place it should double within 90 minutes.

Pat into a Rectangle

After it doubled, I took the dough out of the rising container and patted it out into a rectangle about 6 inches wide and 10 inches long.  I gently pressed out all the big bubbles because this is a sandwich loaf and I didn’t want to end up with holes in it.

Roll into a Cylinder

To form a loaf, start with a short end and roll the dough up into a cylinder.

Fold up ends and pinch seams together

Because my cylinder always ends up too long for the pan, I usually fold the ends up and pinch the dough together to seal it.  Seal the seam along the top of the loaf, also.

Turn it Seam-Side Down

Flip the loaf over so the seam is on the bottom.  The loaf should be about the same size as the pan you’re using – this one is a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Loaf in Bread Pan

Place the loaf into the pan, seam-side down.  I like to gently press it into the pan, so it fills the space evenly.  According to the book, you should mist the loaf with water at this point and sprinkle on poppy seeds, but I completely missed that part.  Oooops!

Proofed Loaf

Instead, I misted it with spray oil, covered it with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 90 minutes until the loaf had crested the pan by a little over an inch.  This is when I noticed the part in the book about the poppy seeds!

Poppy Seeds

I went ahead and misted the fully-proofed loaf with water and sprinkled it with poppy seeds.  The problem was that I had misted it with spray oil earlier – I probably should have used an egg wash instead of water to glue the seeds to the loaf.

Baked Loaf

The loaf took about 45 minutes to bake and emerged from the pan a beautiful golden color.  As I suspected, the poppy seeds were rolling off left and right!

Bread Slices

After allowing it cool completely (always the hardest part), I sliced it and saw that the inside looked even better than the outside.  I ate the first slice with softened butter and it was absolutely delicious.  The crumb is moist and chewy, the flavor complex and slightly sweet.  It’s a great sandwich bread and also toasts beautifully.  It was a wonderful complement to my homemade strawberry jam this morning at breakfast.

If you’re following along in the challenge, the formula can be found on page 187 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  The next bread I’ll be baking is Pain à l’Ancienne and I’m hoping to make some beautiful rustic baguettes similar to those pictured in the book.  I’ve been excited about this one since the beginning of the challenge!

Want to Join The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge?

There are several ways for you to join in the fun!  First of all, you need a copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Read the first section of the book carefully, as this will prepare you for the bread recipes in the second section of the book.  Then just jump in and bake some Anadama Bread, which is the first bread formula in the book.  You may also visit The BBA Challenge Page for more details on how to participate in the group.

If you haven’t already, you might want to bookmark the BBA Challenge Page.  From there you can see which breads are coming up soon, find answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit and/or add yourself to our World Map, see the BBA Challenge Blogroll, and check out the continually updated slideshow of BBA Bread photos from our ever-expanding group of bakers!

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire from other BBA Bakers

  1. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    Nicole, I don’t know if you have Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads book, but the recipes in there are fantastic! I made a Multigrain Sandwich Bread and it turned out to be amazing. since I bought the book I haven’t even bothered with the BBA Multigrain loaf.

    5:43 am  May 31st, 2010
  2. SallyBR

    Oh, we loved this bread too, especially my husband, could not stop eating it! … indeed the name made me smile… not very humble 🙂

    5:49 am  May 31st, 2010
  3. Anne Marie

    This bread is one of my favorites in the book. Too bad about the poppy seeds.

    6:43 am  May 31st, 2010
  4. Di

    That looks really yummy. I’m almost there; I’ve just gotten hung up on the marbled rye for some reason. I’m hoping to get both knocked out this weekend.

    7:36 am  May 31st, 2010
  5. Calantha

    Oh, I made this bread not too long ago and absolutely loved it! It is, as you say, a bread that can stand up to almost any sandwich filling. And despite the lengthy time requirement, it actually isn’t difficult to make!

    8:22 am  May 31st, 2010
  6. Margaret

    This was one of my favorites too. Made it with slow and Steady group. Definitely an often repeat.

    Yours looks excellent.

    8:22 am  May 31st, 2010
  7. Nancy (n.o.e.)

    This was one of the greatest of the great breads in this great book! We’re not too far ahead of you.

    8:39 am  May 31st, 2010
  8. Nicole

    Samantha – Yes, I do have the Whole Grains book but haven’t had time to do much more than read through it. I plan on trying some of the breads soon – thanks for the recommendation!

    8:55 am  May 31st, 2010
  9. Cate

    Wow, that is such a perfect-looking loaf! I have the book but haven’t tried this recipe yet… now I know I need to!

    8:56 am  May 31st, 2010
  10. Abby

    We loved this one, too! Awesome sandwiches.

    8:56 am  May 31st, 2010
  11. John DePaula

    I’ve made Reinhart’s Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire many times. In fact, have a batch going right now. What I love is the flavor and simplicity and variability. Whatever grains I happen to have on-hand, will yield a delicious loaf. Today, I’m trying a bit of toasted buckwheat with polenta, spelt flakes, and barley flakes. Mmmm… can’s wait.

    9:53 am  May 31st, 2010
  12. Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

    That looks perfect! I love how you said it’s not dense, which seems to be my biggest problem with homemade bread. I can’t wait to try this, thanks!


    10:30 am  May 31st, 2010
  13. sara

    Looks fantastic! My post about this bread is up here:

    10:47 am  May 31st, 2010
  14. The Teacher Cooks

    This bread looks delicious and you make it look so easy and flawless to make. I like the large measuring cup idea.

    12:02 pm  May 31st, 2010
  15. Dustin

    Nicole, I did a Google image search for Strawberry Shortcake today (Elisa is trying to master shortcake) and on the first page one of your pictures came up from a recipe you made just over 3 years ago on your wordpress site. You’ve been rockin’ the food blog long enough to have a “throwback thursday” post!!!

    4:51 pm  May 31st, 2010
  16. Srivalli

    Nicole, that is really too good..Thanks for the detailed pictures..

    6:14 pm  May 31st, 2010
  17. nags

    i am speechless! this is amazing!

    12:12 am  Jun 1st, 2010
  18. Helen Gedney

    I saw the directions but not the recipe. I love to make bread but need a recipe for new ones.

    4:15 pm  Jun 1st, 2010
  19. Renee

    Beautiful! Thanks for the continued inspiration to tackle the BBA challenge!

    8:37 pm  Jun 2nd, 2010
  20. Alelunetta

    Oh I really love your breads! They’re so beautiful and yummy!! Bellissimo! E molto invitante. I would eat it with berry jam or some sicilian orange blossom honey… gnam!

    3:12 pm  Jun 3rd, 2010
  21. Sara

    Thanks for the link! Although not my best effort, I felt something had gone awry, and after this post it’s a good reminder I should try it again!

    5:31 pm  Jun 3rd, 2010
  22. Pradeep

    Very informative article. Pls name some more grains which can be use for bread making.Thank you with warm regards

    3:08 pm  Jul 7th, 2013
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