Miller’s Hearth Bread

Miller's Hearth Bread
Recipe from Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions by Beth Hensperger

Notes: I made this loaf twice recently: once before a work trip to San Francisco, and a second time afterwards, so I could get a photo. On this second trial, I put the baked loaves outside to cool to avoid heating up the kitchen. As dusk fell, I went outside and noticed only one loaf on the table. After a moment of bafflement, I noticed the second loaf had fallen on the deck... KNOCKED OVER AND EATEN BY AN ANIMAL! There was a golf-ball sized hole in the top, and parts of the interior had been eaten out. I can now count a local squirrel or raccoon among my baking fans.

Back to the bread: The recipe calls for a mix of milled whole grains: barley, rice, oat and wheat. I didn't have any brown rice, so I tried jasmine rice (the first time) and Arborio rice (the second time). There's quite a bit of yeast in this recipe, so it proofs very quickly. The first time I made this, I let the loaves do their final rise overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, they had deflated somewhat, and didn't spring very much in the oven. The second time, I did all the proofing at warm room temperature, and the loaves were shaped nicely.

Despite the interesting combination of grains, I didn't like the texture of this bread. It's a little "squeaky" and coarse, without a good nutty flavour.

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