I want to share a recipe with you that is one of the easiest of the bread recipes that I like to make. Unlike the first recipe that I posted, this one is completed all in one day, about 4 hours from start to finish, if you have cooked your wild rice in advance. I have found it to be a very reliable recipe and more forgiving than some. Molasses makes the bread darker, which I think is very attractive with the wild rice. This recipe is an example of a more traditional method of bread making. The recipe was submitted by Carol Jensen from Aitkin County, to the Make It Minnesotan! Sesquicentennial Cookbook in 2008. I have never met Carol but I want her to know that I think she’s got a great, flavorful bread here. It will easily accommodate whatever shape you would like to make. She suggests a braided wreath or two loaves. Just for the fun of it, I have made this bread into a large wheel. Another name for the wheel shape is “crown” or couronne. The name comes from a part of France called the Auvergne. Apparently, in France, couronnes are usually a white bread, which this one is certainly not. But the shape is the same and I figure there’s no harm in borrowing the shape name of a pretty bread made in France for another prettily shaped bread made in Minnesota.
Wild Rice Three Grain Bread
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/3 c. warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
2 T. canola or vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp kosher sea salt
1/3 c. molasses (honey or agave are fine, too).
½ c. uncooked rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)
½ c. rye flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
4 to 4 ½ c. white bread flour (protein content 10%)
1 c. cooked wild rice (I keep cooked wild rice in my freezer and thaw completely)
1 egg, beaten with 1 T. water
Scald the milk. While it is cooling, measure out the flours and other ingredients. Use your instant read thermometer to monitor the milk as it cools.
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. After waiting for the yeast to foam, add the milk, oil, salt and molasses. Stir in oats, rye flour, whole wheat flour and 2 c. of the bread flour to make a soft dough. (Leave the remaining 2 1/2 c. of bread flour in a separate container and use from that when the recipe says to add more flour.) Add the cooked wild rice and mix just till it’s integrated. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Stir in enough additional bread flour to make a stiff dough.
Turn out onto your work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Add more flour to keep dough from sticking. Turn the dough into a lightly greased bowl and roll it over so that all of the dough has a bit of oil on the surface. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down or “degas” the dough.
To make the crown: Prepare either a peel (if you will be baking on a baking stone) or a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the parchment with semolina flour. Alternatively, you could spray the parchment with your high heat pan spray. Then, form the dough into a large round (about 14″ in diameter) on the parchment paper. Insert a finger into the center of the dough and widen to a circle ~ 5” diameter. You may grease a tall biscuit cutter and place inside the circle if you want to maintain that large circle as you proof the bread and bake it, but I think it’s just as nice when the hole nearly closes up again as it rises. If you think that your crown has become too large after you opened up the circle in the middle, you may tuck under some of the dough all the way around the outer edge. As I said, it is a very forgiving dough.
To make a braided wreath: Prepare the same parchment as described above. Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll each out into a long strand, at least 30″. To roll, place your hands in the middle of the strand, and as you roll the dough back and forth, move your hands farther apart. The dough will be elastic and may not want to cooperate at first. Just let the strands rest for a few minutes and then return to rolling them. They will have relaxed and be more willing. Then braid the three strands together, pinching each end closed and make a circle (wreath) with the braid. You may overlap the ends of the braid just a bit and seal with a wet finger. When it rises, it will seal itself together anyway.
To make loaves: Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape each into a loaf just a hair shorter than the length of your loaf pan. Place each into a 9 1/2 X 5 1/2-inch greased bread pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Let the crown, wreath or loaves rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Beat 1 egg and mix it with 1 T. water. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the bread with the egg glaze. Then sprinkle with sunflower seeds. You may score or slash the crown or the loaves if you wish with a very sharp serrated knife or razor blade or tool called a “lame” (lahm) which is designed for that purpose. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. I recommend checking the internal temperature of the loaf with an instant read thermometer which should read AT least 195 F.
Allow the bread to cool for one hour on a cooling rack before slicing. This is a pretty bread to bring to a potluck.