Multi-Grain Olive Braid Bread

It's the first week of January, annnnd you were expecting a salad?

Well, I baked you some bread instead, but I'm not really sorry about it. It's healthy multi-grain bread with oats, quinoa, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, whole wheat flour, and olives, AND it's my current favorite bread recipe.

This is not fluffily white sandwich bread, for sure.  This is the kind of bread you use to make an open faced sandwich, or cut in thick slices to smear with herbed butter, or dunk in a big bowl of hot soup.

Adam has been dreading going back to work and suffering the residual depression that comes after a long anticipated trip is over, while I've been anxious about grades and the start of a new semester. I think this hearty bread is just what we need to power us through this rather bleak month of January.

I was inspired to make this recipe after our recent trip to Saint Louis.  We toured the Anheuser Busch Brewery, and as we walked through the different phases of the beer-making process, I was overcome with the warm aroma of yeast and barley and BREAD.

I'm convinced that there are few smells better than that of fresh bread baking in the oven. It's alluring and comforting, and inexplicably makes you think of home. I think the smell of fresh bread could alleviate stress, or anxiety, or homesickness. I think it could, for a moment at least, turn a crappy day into a good one.

People who've maintained hundred year old sourdough starters could write about this much more eloquently than I can, but I find that even in the simple process of combining water and yeast and flour and kneading it with my hands, I am doing something profound.  Something that people have been doing for generations upon generations before me to feed themselves and others.

Making bread is just one of those things that we are supposed to make time for.

This bread can't be made quickly, but that's sort of the point. You'll have to wait for the dough to rise twice, and the whole time you'll be plagued with the lurking fear that the yeast won't react like it should.  There'll be no immediate gratification. No taste-testing. You can't make it in an hour, or two hours even, and it's best not to be in a hurry at all.

This is difficult for impatient, need-gratifcation-now people like me. People who check their iphones during any moment of downtime or who tend to be afraid of failure, and thus, afraid of long wait times and recipes that do not guarantee success.

However, if you took the time on a Saturday morning to make this bread, even with all the kneading, and the rise time, and nail-biting worry over failed yeast, I think you'd find that what you finally removed from the oven would be golden and fragrant and beautiful and feel, deservedly, like a gift.

Multi-Grain Olive Braid Bread

1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons (or 1 package) yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 a can of black olives, chopped (Or more if you like!)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 cup mixed seeds and grains (I used flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and oats)

Grease a large bowl and a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  Clean a spot on your counter and dust with flour. (For kneading, later)

In another bowl, combine flour, oats, quinoa, milk, and olives. (Mixture will be crumbly)

Measure 1 1/2 cups warm water into a glass measuring cup. Add yeast, olive oil and honey. Stir gently to combine and let sit for about a minute.

Add yeast mixure to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Roll out onto prepared, floured surface. Use your hands to knead for 5-7 minutes. The dough will be sticky, so you may need to add a couple extra tablespoons of flour.

Transfer the dough to the bowl prepared with cooking spray. (Don't clean up the floured surface yet!) Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot. Let rise for ninety minutes.

Return dough to the floured surface and break into 3 even pieces. Use your hands to roll the pieces into long logs, about 24 inches in length.

Whisk together egg and a tablespoon of water. Use a pastry brush to brush each slice. Sprinkle with mixture of seeds and grains.

Pinch each of the 3 logs together at the top and gently braid together, keeping some space in between.  When finished, roll the ends under and smooth. Sprinkle with any remaining seeds/grains and brush with remaining egg/water mixture.

Place bread on a greased cookie sheet. Cover again with the plastic wrap/dish towel and let rise for another hour.

Toward the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 425.

Bake bread at 425 for 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and reduce heat to 350. Cover the bread with aluminum foil and return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Confused about how to tell when the bread is done? I was too. Here are some tips.

Adapted from Back to Her Roots.


  1. In this heatwave we're having a salad would have been welcome but then I looked at the photos and the recipe and decided this bread was better. :)

    1. Ha, thanks! I will try to make a salad recipe next week!

  2. Oh My - this has to be one of the most delicious loaves I've ever seen. I love that you used oats, quinoa and wholegrain flour: this sounds like a really yummy bread! And working with yeast is my favorite. I adore the feeling when you take the first bite off a freshly baked loaf : )

  3. You beautifully described so many of the reasons I love baking bread! This loaf turned out beautifully, and I love all of the crunchy seeds you have rocking on top. Yum!

  4. I could never say no to a beautiful loaf like this!! It is almost a work of art!

  5. Sounds just perfect! I love the olive addition. That's perfectly fine that it's not a 'quick' bread, all the better. Looks hearty and perfect for dunking in soups! Pinned ;}

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  11. If our family does not care for olives, can I just leave them out? Or do I need to substitute something else? Like grated carrot more dried fruit to keep it moist? I love making braided bread and this sounds yummy! Thank you

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