Despite record breaking heat this weekend, I followed through with my plan to try making bread. And, while I received many well intentioned warnings from folks here on this site, I stubbornly went ahead with the multigrain recipe that I had. And, you know what? It didn't turn out half bad. In fact, I'd so so far as to say that it turned out totally edible. A bit dense with a thick crust, but totally edible and not a total brick. In fact, I'd say it was pretty decent.
I woke up Sunday morning to make it and ended up preparing my yeast twice, as the first time Martin knocked the bowl disturbing the yeast and I wasn't sure if that would make a difference. Given that I had only invested 15 minutes and a tablespoon of molasses, 2 tsps of yeast and a cup of water I decided to give it another whirl. The heat was likely good for bread rising, though when it came to baking it I had to open all the windows and the front door so the house didn't totally overheat (I'm sure our old gas stove lacks in the thermo-efficiency department, but I tell ya in the winter all you have to do is bake dinner and you don't need the furnace, this is why ovens were always located in the centre of houses). I then set myself up in the front flower bed to try to deal with some serious blackspot on my roses with my kitchen timer beside me, and was still able to enjoy the smell of fresh bread wafting out the front door. Yum.
My oven runs a bit hot, so the bread was done about 15 minutes before the suggested time. I may have even been able to take it out a few minutes earlier to prevent such a hard crust (it's hard but not tough so that's good), though I was worried about uncooked bread. And it isn't too dry, so I don't think I did badly.
I'll definitely try this recipe again next weekend to see if I can improve/change it, but I need the advice of some bread experts out there. I know that when bread dough is ready you're supposed to be able to punch it and bring out a dry fist. I could do that, though this multigrain was a pretty stiff dough (and I'm a weakling) so I wasn't really making a bit dent in it. I kneaded it for about 7 minutes the first time (the instructions said 10) at which point the texture of the dough didn't seem to be changing much except that it was actually getting a bit stickier and less smooth, ie/ sticking to the board where it hadn't before. My final product was a bit "flatter" than I would have liked, I think it could have risen about 20% more than it did. Does that mean I kneaded for too long? Or not enough? All advice is most welcome.
The one thing I've realized is that I don't really know what this bread should be like, which would have been helpful. It is totally possible that I've made the recipe exactly as it is intended and at this point I'm just adapting for my own preferences. There isn't even a photo in the cookbook I used, so I'm really kind of poking around in the dark here. I may try Molly's Honey Gold Oatmeal bread in a few weeks as there's a bit more a description and a photo of the final product there, so I'll know more what I'm aiming for.