I have been working with whole wheat flour which is always more hearty than all purpose flour. I can never tell if the crumb of my breads is dense because of my choice of ingredients or if its my technique.
And so I looked for alternatives. One option was to try baking with bread flour. Surely the higher gluten content would help improve the crumb. I used this recipe from Multi-Grain Bread, originally featured in Bon Appétit
Heres what I did:
1. Used a combination of wheat flakes and rolled oats for the unsweetened cereal.
2. Used half whole wheat bread flour (bought at Lori's) and half all purpose unbleached bread flour . 3. Used sunflower, flax, sesame and nigella seeds in the topping.
1. The recipe instructions, especially proofing times work perfectly. Ambient temperature at 70-75 degrees F seems to guarantee the best rise.
2. Press the seeds into the load before baking if you're concerned that they will pop off as you slice the bread.
3. Don't forget to put the baking pan in the oven before you start pre-heating! There were small bubbles in the water by the time the bread entered the oven.
For the amount of effort that goes into it, this is my favorite bread recipe so far. Sure it uses a lot of yeast and also calls for bread flour. Both these ingredients go a long way in guaranteeing the success of the end-product. I was quite satisfied with the crumb, I'm sure I will keep trying different proportions of whole wheat to all purpose bread flour. I've used the bread for toast in the morning, for sandwiches or with soup at lunch or simply with some cheese. It also does well when toasted.
Update: Meet more bread-heads at the Sandwich Festival! Anupama, thank you for hosting!