The quest for the elusive perfect loaf
Take II: Kitchen MacGyver

Ahem, remember this? Me neither.

Good idea though. Let's try it again, shall we.

I've noticed that I'm drawn to breads that feature grains or whole wheat flour and molasses instead of sugar or even honey.

This is a particularly rich and sweet loaf that's perfect for breakfast toast. It's only a matter of seconds after the slice disappears into the grill before the heavenly buttery scent takes over your kitchen.

The dough for this bread was already proofing when I realized I don't own 2 loaf pans. So I did what I always do in these situations and asked myself: What would MacGyver do?

His ticking bomb = my microwave timer.
His detonation = my overproofed bread dough.
It was a matter of life or dented bread.

After rustling through the pots and pans in the cupboard, I emerged dusty and victorious with the angel food cake pan. It holds enough dough for 2 loaves and is the perfect width and height for sandwich bread. Plus, the stem in the centre ensures even baking throughout.

These flashes of brilliance are so rare that I really must savour them.
With (a) toast of course.

Like I said, watch and learn as fleeting genius devolves into poor puns and gratuitous alliteration before your very eyes.

5-Grain Molasses Bread

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup 5-grain cereal
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup fancy molasses
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
5-6 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Measure the 5-grain cereal into a heatproof bowl and pour the water on top. Add the butter and molasses and stir until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool until it reaches 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of flour and the salt and mix well. Add the remaining 2-3 cups of flour, as needed, to form a soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 5-7 minutes).

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

Grease 2 loaf pans. Punch the dough down and form it into 2 loaves, however you please. Cover the loaves loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rise a second time (about 45-60 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on top (about 40-45 minutes). Carefully remove them from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

Yields 2 loaves.

Source: Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking.