March 10, 2013

Quick and Dirty

I was in a bit of a dilemma not long ago. I had to bake something as a treat for my colleagues at work, but didn't really have the time to babysit a loaf for a couple of days (which is how long one of our loaves usually takes from mixing to baked loaf).

We all know that when one is in a bit of a tight spot, one can always rely on IKEA to have an answer for everything and a solution for all our problems. Let me explain: There is a multigrain bread mix (the aptly named Brödmix Flerkorn) that every IKEA store carries in their Food Market section; you just have to add water to it, wait for about 45 minutes, then bake it for one hour, et voilà! you end up with a fresh loaf of awesome Swedish bread.

Well, more or less ...

I've tried this mix once in the past and, while I haven't been too excited about the results, I would agree that it is a lot better than almost any bread commercially available in North America.

Somehow though, for the purpose of my baking this treat for work, the IKEA bread mix came to mind. Maybe the fact that I drive past an IKEA store on my way to work every day has something to do with it. In any event, I decided to give it another try, but I also wanted to improve on it a little bit. The mix itself, as indicated on the tetra-pack box, contains wheat flour, wheat flakes, rye flakes, coarse rye flour, sunflower kernels, flax seed, malt, and a few other yummy things that are good for you. I decided to add some (actually it ended up being lots of) dried fruit into the mix to make a nice, dark fruit loaf, that would go really well with some nice butter.

I figured I would need to add a bit more water than the 600 ml the original instructions call for, as well as a little amount of white flour, to help keep it all together. This is what I came up with:
1 IKEA bread mix (700 g)
100 g white flour
700 g water
570 g dried fruit (I just happened to have in the house):
200 g raisins
230 g chopped dates
140 g currants
I mixed everything just to incorporation, poured it in an oiled pan (it's a very liquidy affair), let it rise for about 45 minutes, and baked it at 400F for an hour and a half.

A few notes on baking and storing/consuming:
  1. Lately we have discovered that if you bake in a pan it's a good idea to cover your pan with another (identical) pan and bake it that way half way through. It makes for really nice crust, because the top pan preserves all the moisture inside during the crucial first part of the baking process. Furthermore, the top part of the loaf stays moist and elastic during the oven spring stage to a degree where one doesn't need to score the loaf at all.
  2. With this type of loaves, very heavy, rich in rye flour, and short fermentation/proofing times, it's possible to place the loaf into a cold oven and then crank the oven up to the desired temperature. This makes for a period of "forced" proofing just before the actual baking begins.
  3. I have baked this loaf on a Sunday and cut into it the next Friday. This has allowed for proper aging. With this kind of heavy, rich loaves it is very beneficial to the overall flavour profile.
And a final note to all the IKEA bigwigs: If you're sitting in a corporate boardroom right now wondering how come the IKEA multigrain bread mix sales have taken such a sharp upturn, this is where you should send your cheques.



  1. Terrific tips - thanks! I'm about to bake my first IKEA bread, and after tasting my friend's effort - which was a little dry and crumbly - I'll try out your pan on top trick.

  2. Whoa. This was great. Made it in a round dutch oven with the lid on for the first half. Used a mix of dried fruit: raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries and mixed citron. Thank you!! P.S., My oven was fast and I took it out roughly 10 min. early...the smell of it getting a little well-done alerted me.