Struan is of Scottish descent, and according to master baker Peter Reinhart, “It was originally conceived of as a once-a-year harvest bread, incorporating whatever grains and seeds were available from the previous day’s harvest.”
At first glance, Reinhart’s struan bread recipe looks like a major pain in the neck. You need wheat or oat bran, coarse cornmeal, brown rice, and oats, only one of which I typically have in the pantry (the oats). And you have to cook the brown rice. Never having had good brown rice before, I put off making this bread for years because of it.
But then I caught a wild hare and decided to go for it. The Saveur recipe for brown rice actually turned out a very nice, tasty product that I’ll make again. There was a lot of weighing, measuring, mixing, and kneading, and as I shaped the cold struan dough after an evening’s rise in the refrigerator, I had to ask myself: was all that worth it?
Yes. Yes it was. It was delicious. Now I know why so many people raved about it. The cornmeal gave it a pleasant, subtle crunch, and the addition of the other grains added depth of flavor without making it bitter. Obviously I’ll have to work on the shaping a little more in future efforts, but overall I ended up with two really tasty sandwich loaves that were worth the work.
You owe it to yourself to make a struan bread at least once in your life to see what the fuss is about.