Grains, especially whole grains, are, apparently, very good as part of one's diet1. This, at least, therefore, may provide some spiritually uplifting sense of Righteousness, whilst eating the below multigrain bread rolls; liberally spread with butter, and filled with any number of similarly calorific substances, such as cheese, cooked meats, bacon and eggs, or tinned tuna, and so forth. As the rolls also contain seeds and herbs, they are particularly good when toasted, as this brings out the flavour of the herbs and seeds, again, a copious application of butter, whilst making them even more delicious, probably does little to increase any health benefits bestowed by the multigrain flour used.
Unlike the vast majority of commercially made and shop-bought rolls and breads, these rolls possess a texture to the finished product which vastly aids in their mouth-feel and taste. Home-made rolls with such a texture are particularly useful for BBQs; unlike soft shop-bought rolls, they don't tend to collapse so easily when filled with burgers, hotdogs, and associated sauces and relish2. The more resilient texture also makes them rather useful for using to soak up foods such as stews, casseroles and soups.
Whilst it is possible to make 100% wholemeal, or multigrain breads, for the home baker, this can sometimes prove problematic (if not downright impossible), without the additional 'agents' used in commercial baking, to aid in gluten development and rising. Therefore, for the home baker, it is advisable to only use flours such as wholemeal, rye, and multigrain, as a small percentage of the recipe's total flour; the remainder being strong white bread flour.
This recipe uses approximately 20% of the total flour as multigrain flour, although it is possible to experiment with raising this, until it is 50% or more of the total flour used in the recipe. The total weight of flour used should remain the same; as one attempts raising the proportion of multigrain, or wholemeal flour, so as increasing weight becomes such flours, the quantity of strong white flour used, reduces proportionally.
This recipe makes 18 big rolls (or more, if made smaller).
- 880g white strong bread flour
- 220g multigrain flour
- 730g water
- 10 to 15g salt
- 3 to 4 teaspoons dried active yeast
- 1 tablespoon dried herbs (rosemary in this case)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds and caraway seeds
- White bread flour for dusting
Day 1: Make the Poolish
An overnight pre-ferment to add flavour to the final rolls, approximately 12 hours before you want to get going on day two. This stage can be omitted if one has not sufficienctly planned ahead - just continue as for day 2, but include all of the flour, water etc.
- 300g warm water
- 300g strong white bread flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon dried active baking yeast
Weigh out the water ensuring it's warm enough3 and pour into a large mixing bowl (make the water a bit hotter than what you want as it cools on entering a cold mixing bowl; alternatively pour boiling water from the kettle into the mixing bowl five minutes before starting, in order to warm the bowl up).
Dissolve/mix in 1 teaspoon sugar, then add the yeast and mix well.
Whilst the yeast is activating, weigh out the white bread flour. Tip in the flour and mix together but don't worry if it's lumpy or irregular, just try to ensure there is no/little raw flour not mixed into the water.
Leave overnight, for 12 hours or more if you can.
Day 2: The Main Dough
Get the overnight poolish out. Weigh out 430g water (warm again), add the honey to it, and about 3 teaspoons dried active yeast. Leave to activate for five minutes, then tip into the poolish from day one and mix well.
Weigh out, and add the remainder of the white and multigrain flour and all of the seeds and herbs to the bowl, and mix well to incorporate.
Once fully incorporated, leave covered on the worktop for half an hour to 45 minutes, to autolyse4.
Tip the dough out onto the worktop, add the salt on top of it, then fold over the dough. Repeat a few times until all the salt is evenly distributed.
Knead the dough for approximately ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
Return the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with a tea-towel, then leave to rise for 45 minutes to one hour.
After this first ferment, turn out and lightly fold the dough; fold the back third forward, over the dough, then fold the front third back, over the 'seam' left by the first fold; repeat this for the left and right. Try to even out any seams/joins, and create as smooth a surface as possible. Return to the bowl, with any remaining 'seam' facing down; let rise for a further 45 minutes to an hour.
Turn out onto floured worktop, and roll out into a giant sausage, trying not to lose too much of the gas and being as gentle as possible.
Cut into 18 pieces (or more, if you wish to make smaller rolls). Set aside to rest for a couple of minutes, then shape into rolls (round is traditional, or longer rolls, if, for example, wanting to use as hotdog buns), and put onto oiled baking trays.
Let rise on the trays until the rolls have begun to touch and have increased in size, again about 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to approximately 200 - 220°C. Place boiling water in an old roasting tray (that you don't want to cook anything in anymore as this ruins it), and put in the bottom of oven to generate steam. Let steam build up for five minutes, then put the trays of rolls in the oven to bake. After at least 15 minutes, it may be useful to swap the trays around, to even out baking (place the tray on the lower shelf onto the top shelf, and vice versa).
The rolls are baked in about 25 minutes, but may take five or ten minutes longer, depending on size, and the temperature of the oven.
Alternatives and Variations
The above method makes crusty, almost French bread style rolls. To make soft rolls; on day two replace 300g of the water with milk, add approximately 50 or more ml/grams of olive oil to the dough, and omit to use the steam method when baking. Adding honey to the poolish on day one makes a darker roll, and alters the flavour. The flavour can also be modified by altering the herbs used; oregano is very good, as is rosemary, but others can be experimented with, to taste.