Thursday, February 2, 2012

Multigrain Struan

The first time I stumbled upon a version of Peter Reinhart's Struan bread was in his award-winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. He named it "Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire" in BBA because it really is quite an extraordinary multigrain bread -- you get at least 5 kinds of fiber-dense and nutrition-packed whole grains all in one delicious loaf! The great thing about this bread too is that you can use virtually any kind of grain that you like or available to you -- just make sure to follow the exact proportions listed in the recipe for the grains as well as pre-cook the larger kinds (like rice) prior to soaking. In his version of the struan found in his book Whole Grain Breads (which is also the version I made here), PR made it even a lot healthier by using 100% whole wheat flour instead of the usual unbleached all-purpose flour and also gave the option of using soy milk or rice milk instead of buttermilk or full fat milk/yogurt for the soaker.
For my Struan, I only used Bob Red Mill's 10-Grain Hot Cereal which already has all of the grains listed in PR's formula and then some. I like using these hot cereal mixes because they're so convenient to use (you only have to measure once!) and the grains are fine enough to not require any pre-cooking. I also used low-fat milk for the soaker which worked really well. Next time I make a soaker though I'll use low-fat soy milk as I believe there are nutrients found in soy milk that are very beneficial to the yeast.

Making this bread is a two-day process as both the biga (pre-fermented dough) and soaker (mixture of whole grains, flour and liquid) have to be completed the day before. This is so the flavors and enzymes will have enough time to develop and work their magic. If you have a sourdough starter you can also use that in place of the biga, which reminds me that I need to make another mother starter again. I had one for a few months but kind of neglected feeding it after I gave birth to my second child.

The thing I found confusing with PR's formula is getting the correct quantity of yeast for the biga -- The volume measurement of 1/4 teaspoon of yeast required doesn't match its equivalent in weight in both grams and ounces that he listed which is 1 gram of yesat. In fact, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast doesn't even register as 1 gram in my scale. So which should I follow then, the volume or weight measurement? I ended up placing 1/2 teaspoon but still 0 grams in the scale which makes me wonder if that was too much because the final dough rose faster than I expected. It only took about 20 minutes for the shaped loaf to almost double in size. It certainly didn't affect the taste of the bread if that was the case though. I also made a few changes to the recipe by adding 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, 1 teaspoon lecithin granules, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder.

This bread goes really well with both sesame seeds and poppy seeds and PR suggested to top the loaf with the seeds before letting it rise. I opted to do it after the dough has risen as I didn't want any of the seeds and egg wash sticking to the plastic wrap.

Another thing that I would change the next time I make this is to use a larger loaf pan. PR said to use an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2" pan for this bread which I used, but it ended up being too small for the dough as it mushroomed too much over the top of the pan. I think a 9 x 5" would be just right.

I really love how this bread turned out. The exterior is a little crunchy and more flavorful because of the sesame seeds and the interior is so soft and fluffy which is exactly the kind of bread that I like. It reminds me of the artisanal breads I've tasted before from a nearby delicatessen...and honestly, I think this is even better! This bread makes great toast too. The flavors of the grains are more enhanced and you get a crunchy and chewy bread at the same time. You'll really have to give this a try to know exactly what I mean LOL. BTW, in all my years of baking, I can say that this is really the only time I have made a successful loaf of bread. :^)

Note: This recipe is just one of the many delicious and healthy breads that you can find in Peter Reinhart's book "Whole Grain Breads." I highly suggest getting the book as there are a lot of whole grain variations of popular breads like brioche, cinnamon rolls, bagels, challah, and even pizza dough. But if you want to give this recipe a try first, this site has posted it as it's written in PR's book.


  1. Yay! It looks beautiful!! Nice rise. You can tell from the close that it's light and fluffy inside. And I agree with your assessment to use a bigger loaf pan next time. Can't wait to try this bread too.

    1. You should definitely give this a try Hanaa! I think this will be a bread that I will be baking on a weekly basis....good way to incorporate whole grains in our diet. I think I can live off eating this and only this as my breakfast for a number of years LOL.

  2. Oh my, another gorgeous whole grain bread! I simply must take this book down from the shelf and use it more!

  3. Thanks Leslie! This book is amazing! I'm actually doing my own bake-through of this book :-)