I love multigrain bread

Happy New Year!  My goodness - it's really 2014 already!  While it may take me a while to remember to write '14 from now on, I'm ready to throw confetti onto the New Year and hope it's the start of a happy and healthy one that's filled with causes for celebration for us all.  

For my first post of 2014, I thought I'd go with bread - that most basic, nourishing, nurturing food that most of us would find hard to live without.
Multigrain bread made with 7-grain hot cereal and pumpkin seeds
I love bread in general, and you might recall my love of english muffins (I straight-up just love carbs), but multigrain bread is one of my very favorite types.  I adore the flavor from the grains and seeds embedded inside.  The nuttiness and texture you get from a loaf of good multigrain bread is so addicting and satisfying.  I love it so much that I tend to talk a lot about places, restaurants, where I can get a good slice or roll of it.  Here's an example...my husband and I used to go to a little restaurant in New York City called King's Carriage House.  It's a cozy place and their food - as in the actual dishes - was terrific (whether for lunch, brunch, tea, or dinner) but what I always think about is a great multigrain roll they served there.  Am I a little odd for putting so much emphasis on the bread?
So for me, good multigrain bread just makes me smile and brightens up my day a little.  It's the little things in life!  And when it's good, I feel it hardly needs anything more than a light toasting because the bread itself is so full of flavor all on its own.  I love to savor it and appreciate all its nuances.
That said...a little salted butter or some jam (as my husband likes to have it) - not to mention ham and eggs on the side for breakfast - never hurts either.  But honestly, I think it's really delicious all by itself.
So given my passion for it, you can imagine I wanted to try this recipe from America's Test Kitchen when I first saw it.  It was bookmarked for a long time, I made a couple of other bread recipes first to get a little experience under my belt, and now I've done it.  And I'm so happy to report that this bread - this monster of a loaf - turned out completely delicious!  It certainly hits the mark in flavor and texture.  It has nuttiness and chewiness in spades. 

The "secret" or shortcut to attaining the multigrains in the bread is hot 7-grain cereal.  Why is it when you want to buy 7-grain cereal at the supermarket, all you can find is 9-grain!  Not wanting to mess up the recipe in any way, I ordered a four-pack case of 7-grain cereal via amazon.  And I'm glad I did.  Not only have I been enjoying bowls of the stuff for breakfast occasionally, this bread is worth searching out the cereal for.
I felt such a sense of accomplishment taking this bread out of my oven and onto our table.  If I can do it, you can bet it was fairly simple.  I have very little experience in bread-making, having only worked with yeast a handful of times and in the last few months only.  What I've learned is that it's a fluid, live process - one you have to flow with and adjust around.  It's honestly exciting and a bit scary at the same time.  Just when I'm feeling confident everything is going according to plan (or the recipe), I'm thrown a curve ball.  In this case, the bread was rising faster - and more - than I expected.  I had to switch the bread pan I intended to use to accommodate the size of the loaf! And what a big, lofty, fluffy (not tough or overly dense) loaf it turned out to be!  It worked.  It really worked.
Bread-making is clearly a skill honed with time and practice, and while I'll never be any expert, it is definitely rewarding.  The other week (before this experiment), I found myself out of bread and with bad weather making it inconvenient to go out and buy some.  So I made my own That is a very cool feeling, to make your own bread and provide your family with a basic that is at the same time very special.  I feel empowered as I'd never envisioned being able to make multigrain bread myself, at home, by following a recipe.  Thank you, America's Test Kitchen!

Aside from trying to make good eats to share and linger over with my family at the table, this whole thing of puttering in the kitchen, playing with flour, and what have you, is also about learning and discovery in an area I'm passionate about - food!  I hope to learn more and make a few more discoveries this year...

This is the 7-grain hot cereal used for this multigrain bread.  I'm a big fan of Bob's Red Mill.  As I mentioned earlier, I could only find 9-grain at the supermarket and while I'm pretty certain that would've worked just fine, I really didn't want any unpleasant surprises so I ordered a 4-pack via amazon.  And I bought the 4-pack because it didn't cost much more than ordering just one!  It makes a very tasty hot cereal and it's become a quick alternative to my favorite, steel cut oatmeal.
To summarize the process, you start by taking a cup of 7-grain cereal and stirring it together with 2 cups of boiling water.  Let it sit for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and cools to about 110 degrees.
This porridge, the multigrain cereal, is a big bulk of this delicious bread.  The rest consists of about 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour), instant yeast, a bit of butter and honey, as well as half a cup of pumpkin seeds (you could also use sunflower seeds).
It takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours for the dough to rise, doubling in size.  
My dough certainly had no problems rising that day!  I probably should have checked on it more frequently and moved on to the next step a tad earlier.

To get ready for the pan, shape the dough into a 9-inch square, roll it up, pinching the seams. I quickly realized that the 1 lb., 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan, I thought would be just fine was too small! I quickly switched to one of my older, roomier loaf pans (it should be 9 x 5 inch, matching the recipe instructions, but I think it's a tad larger) - crisis averted!
Once placed into the loaf pan, you're suppose to let it rise again to roughly double in size, about 45 to 75 minutes.  Did I mention my dough was quite substantial already?!  I couldn't help but think my dough was very close to being ready for the oven.  So instead of going by the time parameter, I looked to what America's Test Kitchen says about the actual signs that the dough is ready for the oven...

The bread is ready, or sufficiently proofed, when you lightly press it with a moistened finger or your knuckle and it feels springy.  The indentation you made should slowly fill back in.  If it doesn't fill in, the dough has risen for too long (uh-oh!).  If it fills back very quickly, it needs more time to rise. Over-risen dough will turn out a dense, short loaf.  Under-risen dough will make for a dense loaf that may tear on top.  I went with this test and by all indications my dough was ready so in the end, it only sat in the loaf pan for about 15 minutes.

Before going in the oven, brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats on top.  This really gives it a professional look.  It's finished with a light spray of water on top before baking.
Bake the bread in a 350 degree oven (make sure you have it preheated early and ready when the bread is!).  In 40-50 minutes, you should have a tall loaf of multigrain bread that has an internal temperature of 200 degrees.
I am so glad I put the bread in the oven when I did.  It turned out tall and sturdy.  The interior is soft and light with an even crumb.  
Looking at it cooling on my kitchen counter, you can see it really is a big, tall loaf!  I was surprised by that.
I love the look of the oats on the surface of this bread.  But in the interest of full disclosure, I'd like to tell you that a lot of the oats fell off on slicing in my case.  

But honestly, this was one of my favorite accomplishments in baking. Such deliciousness and so much to learn...kind of like life itself.


Recipe:

Multigrain Bread
From America's Test Kitchen's Best Baking Recipes

- Makes one, tall, 9 inch loaf - 

2 cups boiling water
1 cup (5-ounces) 7-grain hot cereal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 to 3 cups (12 1/2 to 15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (I used pumpkin)
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats

In a medium heat-proof bowl, stir the boiling water together with the 7-grain cereal.  Let sit, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and cools to about 110 degrees.  This takes about 30 minutes. Stir in melted butter and honey.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together 2 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt.  On low-speed, add the warm cereal mixture and mix until dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

Continue kneading the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  About halfway through, check to see if more flour is needed.  The goal is for the dough to clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom.  If more flour seems necessary, add the remaining 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, one or two tablespoons at a time.  During the final minute of mixing, add the pumpkin (or sunflower) seeds to combine.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead it by hand to form a round ball, then place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with a piece of greased plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently press it into a 9-inch square.  Roll the dough up tight into a cylinder and pinch the seams close.  Place the loaf, seam side down, into the pan.  Lightly spray the top of the loaf with cooking spray, cover loosely with plastic, and let rise again in a warm spot until about doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when gently pressed, roughly 45 to 75 minutes*.

Have oven preheated at 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position.  Before baking, brush the top of the loaf with some melted butter, sprinkle with the oats, and lightly spray the top with water. Bake until golden and the center registers 200 degrees, approximately 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  

Let bread cool in the loaf pan for about 15 minutes before turning out and letting it cool fully on a wire rack for about 2 hours before serving.

* From my experience, I think it's best to test the readiness of the dough rather than only relying on the time measure.  The bread is ready, or sufficiently proofed, when you lightly press it with a moistened finger or your knuckle and it feels springy.  The indentation you made should slowly fill back in. If it doesn't fill in, the dough has risen for too long (which will make for a dense, short loaf). If it fills back very quickly, it needs more time to rise (under-risen dough will make for a dense loaf that may tear on top).






62 comments:

  1. What a beautiful loaf of bread! It seriously looks perfect! Happy New Year :)

    Sues

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    1. Thanks so much - Happy New Year to you ladies as well!

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  2. Happy New Year Monica! I hope this year turns out to be the bestest year for you and your family yet. I LOVE baking bread though lately I have not made any. This gives me inspiration to get back in action. What a fabulous start with a recipe like this one and it looks like it came from a top bakery. YUMMM!

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    1. Same to you, my friend! I look forward to all your delicious posts ahead!

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  3. Your multigrain loaf has turned out perfect, Monica.

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    1. Thanks and that means a lot coming from you - the bread expert! I think I got lucky (and I hope my luck keeps up with this one!).

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  4. Your bread looks perfect! Love homemade bread and this one sounds awesome with the 7 grain cereal! Love how tall and pretty your loaf looks with the oats on top. Great recipe and you did an awesome job. Happy New Year Monica and wishing you and your family a wonderful 2014 :) xo

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    1. Thanks so much, Kelly! It is officially 2014! Crazy!

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  5. Oh I'm so glad you posted this!! Multigrain bread is my favorite (right ahead of really good sourdough) but I have yet to make it at home! Which needs to change because I make bread all the time. Just added this to my meal plan for coming week. Super pumped!! haha the little things that make me happy : )

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    1. Yay - multigrain bread is so amazing...I sound maybe a little too crazy about it but it is really special. : ) A really good sourdough certainly hits the spot, too! And for me, it's all about the little things. That's what fills up a good life, I think... :)

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    2. Made this bread this weekend! We loved it : ) I'm crazy nuts about multigrain bread too lol I could only find 10 grain hot cereal and it still worked great! I had to add like a little pinch of water (the dough was slightly too dry - although who knows if that was just the environment or the difference in cereal) but that did the trick! Came out perfect!

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    3. Yay! I am, of course, so happy to hear you made it! Thank you for coming back and letting me know, Ashley! : ) I'm so glad it worked out and you guys liked it!! You got 10-grain?! Doesn't that just take the cake...I could only find 9-grain at the stores! Now I'm happy to know the 10 worked out just fine. I always do a bit of guessing when it comes to whether the dough is too wet or dry...still got so much to learn...
      It is snowing here now - as in 10 inches likely by tomorrow morning. I was just thinking I should make a loaf of this tomorrow. : ) You have a great week and thanks again.

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  6. This bread looks great! And now I have to keep an eye out at the grocery store for that 7-grain cereal - they've got a whole wall dedicated to Bob's Red Mill so hopefully I can find it! Thanks for sharing! Plus, with all those grains it'll fit into my "health" kick for the new year ;)

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    1. Thanks, Natalie - Happy New Year! I hope you find it! This bread recipe is really awesome. : )

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    2. So far I found the 5-grain mix. I'm going to a different store this weekend to find the 7-grain. I'M ON A MISSION! lol!

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    3. That's like me, only finding 9-grain instead of the 7 when I was looking! I had no luck - it was like all the grocery stores colluded to stock the 9-grain. Good luck and I hope you find it before something else demands your attention (I know I'm like that and then it has to go to the back-burner). : )

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  7. Yes, it is really 2014! You did a great start off with a multi grain bread and turned out perfect!

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    1. I appreciate that, Balvinder. Happy New Year!!

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  8. What a comforting loaf that is! That's the way to start your day, with some jam on a it and a cappuccino on the side. Happy New Year! :) ela

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    1. Oh yes, you described my husband's perfect breakfast when it comes to bread. I love it, too! Thank you!

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  9. Happy New Year, Monica!!! My husband eats a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread every day for lunch and I decided that after we move into our house and I have more room to bake, I'm going to make the bread for the sandwich instead of buying it. This recipe looks great...I love all the seeds in it! Your loaves look so professional :)

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    1. I'm just like your husband with the routines but I love so many foods! I hope you'll have time to make this one day soon, Amy. Happy New Year!

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  10. I also LOVE multigrain bread, and cannot get over how beautiful this looks!! Happy 2014, Monica! Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, wonderful year!

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    1. Thank you, Marie (and what a gorgeous profile pic, girl!). : ) Let's hope it's a delicious and happy, fulfilling year for everyone!

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  11. Bread is my favorite carb ever! And multigrain is my very very very favorite. Oh wow, your loaf turned wonderfully soft and delicious... it must taste delicious straight from the oven with a drizzle of olive oil yummm.
    I need to make myself one of these as soon as possible. I miss baking with yeast so much!
    Happy New Year Monica! xx

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    1. Oh Consuelo...bread is so doggone good, isn't it! I love it too, too much. It's hard to portion control with carbs but I do try. I hope you get baking with yeast real soon. I totally see making avocado toast with this bread with some good olive oil and some red pepper flakes!

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  12. Look at that spectacular loaf! What a way to start of the New Year! I love how it looks toasted, being British! I'm a big toast person! Looks absolutely gorgeous. Happy New Year Monica! here's wishing you and your family all the best for this year! Looking forward to seeing your recipes!

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    1. Thank you, Nazneen. You guys are reminding me of how much support and love I get from this space. : )
      And I love, love toast...I grew up in HK and picked up a lot of British habits, maybe. ; ) The crunchier, the better.

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  13. This bread is stunning! I love fresh baked bread but have had zero luck with yeast so far so I remain very impressed with folks that can whip up homemade bread :) You described it so perfectly, it almost makes me want to give yeast another go!

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    1. Oh, thank you. I couldn't bring myself to work with yeast for ages. I find it's not all that difficult (when you stick with simple recipes) but it is somewhat unpredictable. I think it's one of those things we need to do and get a hang of...that kind of commitment alone can be a turn off but hey, things don't have to be perfect and sometimes, you get lucky! I'm sure your next endeavor will be great!

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  14. Wow, that really is a beautiful loaf of bread Monica! I'm not a fan of oats but I love how it drapes so beautifully on top! :) I'm still trying to work up the courage to use yeast and try kneading. I'm hoping 2014 will be the year. Seeing more of your bread recipe encourages me to try it out for myself. Have a great weekend dear friend. :)

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    1. The stand mixer does nearly all the kneading in most cases - it's not as labor intensive as it sounds, not like kneading pasta dough for 15 minutes kind of thing! I hope you try it out in '14 if you feel like it! : ) I do love oats - it's one healthy thing I adore! : )

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  15. This is a gorgeous loaf!! A good multigrain bread is hard to find, but you've done it!

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    1. Thanks so much! I have a hard time getting good multigrain bread so I'm always excited when I do. Now I can make my own (and hope it turns out).

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  16. WOW - what a beautiful loaf of bread - perfect in fact! I have tried my hand at bread baking and have never had it turn out so good!
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilanlan.com

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    1. I'm definitely starting to feel like I got lucky on this one! Thank you for the compliment. : ) Much appreciated.

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    1. Thank you! It tastes really good, happily!

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  18. Yum! I love multigrain bread too! And yours looks absolutely perfect!

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    1. Thanks, Dawn...and Happy New Year!

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  19. I haven't gotten into bread baking yet, but your pictures really make me want to try it. Multigrain bread is the best!

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    1. What a lovely compliment. I just adore multigrain bread (...and baguettes, english muffins, ciabatta, good old-fashion white toast...) ; ) Happy New Year!

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    1. Bread is definitely one of the simplest comfort foods.

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  21. Yum! This bread looks fantastic. A perfect way to start of the new year. Happy 2014!

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    1. Thanks, Monica! Have a terrific 2014!

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  22. Gosh I really do love homemade bread. This looks so amazing; I eat multigrain bread as often as I can! This is a great way to start 2014!

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    1. Homemade bread makes incredible toast and I love toast! Thank you, Jessica - have a great year ahead!

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  23. This bread looks so fluffy and delicious!! it's really hard to make bread fluffy like that and the multigrain is a plus!

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    1. Thanks so much, Layla. I've only worked with yeast a few times - got lucky here, I think...and I'm definitely grateful! Have a great week ahead!

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  24. What a delicious looking bread! I always love America's Test Kitchen recipes. They are always spot on.

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    1. The fact that it's an ATK recipe gave me the encouragement I needed to give it a try! I look for simple recipes from them and I know - whether the dish or treat is ultimately to my taste or not - it will turn out as they say. I love those mad scientists! : )

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  25. Happy New Year, and hope you had a wonderful holiday season! Your bread looks amazing--really professional. Multigrain is really tasty to me too (I also love carbs!). Who knew 7 grain would be so difficult to find, but glad this worked out for you. I'll need to get over my fear of yeast and make some bread too.

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    1. The holiday season went by so quickly but it was lovely - I didn't do too much, just enough I think. This bread is so good because I just adore the flavor of multigrain. : )

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  26. what a gorgeous, picture-perfect loaf! Now you have me wondering what the two-grain difference is between 7 and 9-grain cereal...i'm totally googling that when i'm done with my work this morning. :)

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    1. I did research that - I can't remember what it was offhand and I'm 99% sure it would've been fine to use but I just wasn't willing to take the 1% chance here.

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  27. What a perfect looking loaf of bread, Monica!!! My grandma was a believer of multigrain bread and she never had white toasts. I tried feeding my kids when they were small and failed. I think they are old enough to enjoy the difference. This looks really delicious!

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    1. On the opposite end, I grew up eating white toast! haha...I am totally converted now. White bread is sure good but I love the nuttiness and all the flavor of multigrain and whole wheat. Thanks, Nami!

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  28. Replies
    1. Making bread is such a fascinating thing, isn't it, Jo?

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  29. So happy I found your site and this recipe! My toddler is on a carb kick, so I'm always trying to bake healthier breads. Delicious, sturdy yet pliable. I only had 10 grain cereal on hand but it worked great! Thank you!

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    1. I'm so happy to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to write. And I love knowing 10 grain cereal works because I have bags of it since I've been eating it a lot...it cooks up so much faster than steel cut oats. : ) Happy Mother's Day to you and happy baking delicious breads for your toddler!

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