Mix together Multi Grain Cereal and ½ cup water for the soaker. Cover and soak at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.
Proof yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is bubbling and fragrant. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, and then stir in all other ingredients and the soaker. Add more flour or water until the dough can be formed into a ball that is tacky but not sticky. (The surface of the dough should stick slightly to your hand when you lift it away, like Velcro, but pieces of dough should not come away on your hand.)
Place the ball of dough on a clean, well-floured surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes. Return it to the bowl, drizzling with a little more olive oil and turning it to coat completely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
Gently punch down the dough and shape it. You can make one big loaf or split it into two even portions for two small loaves. Place the loaves in greased bread pans, spritz or brush water on top using a brush or damp hands, and evenly sprinkle on poppy seeds.
Cover the pans loosely with plastic and allow the loaves to rise until doubled in size again, approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F.
Remove plastic and bake loaves for 30-40 minutes. Smaller loaves may be done at 30 minutes; my one large loaf took 40 minutes. Cover loosely with foil during baking if top is browning too quickly. When ready, the loaves will be deeply browned and will sound hollow when tapped.
Notes: Any combination of whole grains can be added to this bread. Keep proportions similar (about ¾-1 cup total for soaker, and a ¼- ½ cup total added straight to dough) but have fun and experiment.
Adapted loosely from Peter Reinhart’s Struan Bread
See the blog entry for this recipe for step-by-step instructions and pictures.
Makes 1 large loaf or two small loaves.
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