The first live musical I ever saw was Godspell, which tells the story of Jesus’s ministry, focusing on the parables. My mom and dad had season tickets to Theatre London (in London, Ontario) with my Uncle John and Aunt Judy. One month my aunt and uncle couldn’t attend, and they graciously gave their tickets to my cousin Heather and me. We would have been around twelve that year and were thrilled to be seeing a ‘real’ show.
These days, almost every performance gets a standing ovation. But back in the 70s, it was less common. A show really had to earn an ovation for people to get on their feet.
Maybe it was my tender age, maybe it was the moving musical numbers (such as “Prepare Ye The Way of The Lord” or “Day by Day”), maybe it was just an extraordinary production. But everyone in the audience seemed to agree with my pre-teen opinion as we all leapt to our feet to salute this wonderful show. It was the first standing ovation I ever participated in, and I’ll never forget how inspiring Godspell was.
The Bible is full of references to bread, from the sharing of the loaves and fishes to the Lord’s Prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread…”). It has been a dietary staple of many ancient and modern societies. These loaves were full of whole grain and seeds, and I absolutely loved them.
Speaking of musicals based on the Bible, you may remember that last year my youngest daughter performed in a church musical that was also about the parables. The choir is off to Nova Scotia for five days later this week to perform at churches in Truro and Halifax. Having seen the show all the way through twice, I promise you it’s well worth a standing ovation!
Sonoma-Style Multigrain Crunch Bread
(adapted from Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett)
4 1/2 cups white bread flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
3 Tbsp yellow cornmeal, polenta or corn grits
3 Tbsp bulgur wheat or cracked wheat
2 Tbsp wheat bran
Scant 1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
4 Tbsp flax seeds
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
4 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 2/3 cups ice water, plus more if needed
3 Tbsp mild honey
1 1/2 Tbsp corn oil or canola oil (plus extra for coating dough tops)
2 Tbsp Cornstarch glaze (recipe below)
First rise: In a very large bowl, thoroughly mix together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, oats, cornmeal, bulgur, wheat bran, salt and yeast until blended. In a small bowl, combine the flax, sesame and poppy seeds. Reserve 4 Tbsp of the seed mixture for garnish, then stir the remainder into the flour mixture. In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the water, honey and oil until well-blended. Vigorously stir the mixture into the bowl with the flour, scraping down the bowl and mixing until very well blended. If the dough is dry and hard to blend, stir in enough more ice water to yield a moist, yet slightly stiff dough. Cover the bowl tightly with foil or plastic wrap. If desired, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours (preferably closer to 18 hours).
Second rise: Vigorously stir the dough for 1 minute; it should be very stiff. (If not, thoroughly stir in enough more bread flour to make it hard to stir.) Generously oil two 9-inch pie plates. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the remaining seeds in each plate. Using an oiled serrated knife or kitchen shears, cut the dough in half, then put each half in a pie plate. Evenly sprinkle each portion with 2 Tbsp of flour. Working in the plate, shape each portion into a ball and smooth the flour into the surface all over. Lightly dusting with flour as needed, shape each portion into a high-domed 6-inch round, smoothing and tucking the edges underneath all the way around. Generously and evenly brush each loaf with cornstarch glaze. Immediately sprinkle the remaining seeds over the loaves. Tent them with foil or plastic wrap.
Let rise: For a regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. For an extended rise, refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours then set out at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough doubles from its deflated size.
Baking: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Place a broiler pan on the oven floor. To bake, place the loaves in the oven and reduce the temperature to 425 degrees. Immediately add a cup of water to the broiler pan – be careful of splattering and steam. Bake, uncovered, on the lower rack for 30 minutes, until the leaves are browned and firm. Remove the loaves from pie plates and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover the tops with foil and continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
2 tsp cornstarch
Scant 2/3 cup cold water, divided
1 pinch salt
In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and about half the water until the cornstarch is smooth. Stir in the remaining water and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat until the mixture simmers gently and continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until it thickens slightly and becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using; the glaze will thicken as it stands. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week (let warm to room temperature before using).