Grainy Bulgur Bread
For the sponge:
- 2-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp. mild honey
- 1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
- 1 cup #2 medium or #3 coarse bulgur
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
For the bread:
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 scant tbsp. salt
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (plus additional as necessary for kneading)
- 1 egg (beaten with 2 tbsp. water for egg wash)
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast and water, and stir until dissolved. Stir in the honey and molasses. Whisk in the bulgur, then whisk in the flours a cup at a time. Stir or whisk this mixture a hundred times for about two minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, cover the bowl tightly with plastic, and leave to rise in a warm spot for one hour until bubbly.
- Add the oil to the sponge and fold in, using a large spoon or spatula. Add the salt and fold in. Fold in one cup of whole wheat flour. Place some of the second cup of flour on your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Use a paddle to help fold the dough over to knead until it has absorbed the flour on the work surface. Flour your hands and your work surface, and knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is elastic and springs back when you press it with your finger. It will be dense and slightly tacky. Shape the dough into a ball. Rinse and dry your bowl, and coat with oil. Place the dough in it, then flip it over so that it is coated with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Punch down the dough again, cover the bowl and allow to rise for another hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide the dough in two and shape into loaves. Oil two 9×5 inch bread pans, and place the loaves in the pans, seam side up first, then seam side down. Cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes or until the middle of the loaves rises above the edges of the pans.
- Gently brush the loaves with egg wash and, using a sharp knife, cut two or three 1/2-inch deep slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, brushing again halfway through with egg wash. The bread is done when it is golden brown and responds to tapping with a hollow sound. Remove from the pans, and cool on a rack.
These loaves, wrapped airtight, freeze well for several weeks. The bread will keep for about 5 days, but refrigerate after 3 days.