Around my house this is called either Peeta's bread or Hunger Games bread. It was inspired by the book 'The Hunger Games' back when I was reading it with my son. The description sounded too good to pass up. Peeta is one of the main characters in the story. "It was good hearty bread, filled with raisins and nuts.” So here you go!
1I usually use a standing mixer for kneading. This recipe is too big for the bread machine, even at the dough only cycle. So whisk the dry ingredients (the first 6 ingredients listed) in a bowl of a standing mixer, or a large mixing bowl if you are doing this by hand.
2Stir the molasses into the warm water and stir. Add this and the oil to the dry ingredients and start to mix. If it seems too dry, sprinkle in some water as you mix until this comes together in a shaggy mass. Set this aside for 10 minutes to let the whole grains hydrate, or soak up the liquids. They take a little longer than all-purpose flour to do this. By letting the dough hydrate, it may save you from adding too much flour later while kneading. Once this step is done, if it still seems way too sticky, add a little bread flour at a time as you knead. You want the texture TACKY, not sticky, not dry. Start kneading with the dough hook of your mixer. After about 5 minutes, add the add ins, nuts and dried fruits, and knead for another minute until it is incorporated into the dough. The dough may or may not leave the bottom of the bowl, but should clear the sides. Pull out of mixer and onto lightly floured board to finish off the kneading with a few turns by hand and a final rounding off. Put back into the bowl, rub oil over the top and cover to rise. This should take at least an hour.
3Now its time to shape it. While you can shape it into a loaf and bake in a loaf pan, I like shape them into rustic, round shapes. Cut your dough into 2 roughly equal halves. Have 2 pieces of parchment ready to set the balls of dough on. I lightly press the dough into a flat circle, roll the circle up and then bring the two ends together and pinch, tucking the whole thing under and making sure the ‘skin’ of the dough is smooth and taut. Set them on the parchment, lightly oil the tops and cover with plastic wrap. (Cut open loaf or produce bags work well here.) Let rise again.
4Let rise until the dough is puffed and not quite double in size. When you poke it gently with a finger, it will stay indented. If it ‘pokes back’ it’s not quite ready. This should take about 40-50 minutes depending on how warm the room is its raising in.
After about 15 minutes of raising, start up the oven. You have 2 options here. I like to bake the loaves in large dutch ovens or pots. Stoneware or iron, any kind with a lid and room to grown inside. Not metal ones. Or you can bake them on a baking stone. Make sure the oven rack has room for the pots, probably in the middle or lower middle. Turn the oven to 425* and put either the baking pots or baking stones in to preheat.
5When the dough is ready, first pick off any fruit poking out the surface. They might burn. Then brush the surface with the egg wash using a pastry brush. (just beta the egg in a little bowl with a tablespoon of water in it). Using a lame or sharp knife, make quick slashes in the tops of the dough. One or two slashes look nice, about ½” deep.
If using baking pots, remove the preheated pots carefully from the oven. Remove the lids. Gently lift the corners of the parchment and lift the dough into each pot, returning the lids and putting back in the ovens. This small space creates a steam bath for your dough, producing a wonderful crust and more expansion of the dough.
If using baking stones you will need a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet. Lift the dough with the parchment by the corners onto the peel or pan, open the oven and slide them onto the baking stones.
615. Set the timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off, take the lids off the pots or if using, rotate the baking stones. Lower the temp to 375. Bake another 5-10 minutes, checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer if you have it. (if you don’t, go borrow one, they are invaluable!).
Bake until a deep golden brown and at least 185 up to 200 degrees. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool 1 hour before slicing.
*if baking in loaf pans, only preheat to 375.