As we finish out April, I want to again thank everyone who has been testing recipes for your excellent and insightful responses. Rather than address your questions here, I will try to work my responses into the next recipe, which I'll be sending out in a few days, hopefully by May 1st or 2nd. In this one we will try to solve the "gummy" problem that many have reported. We will also try to make a loaf that does not flatten out on top, as some of you reported.
Sifting through the recent multi-grain responses it is amazing how the same recipe can perform so differently for so many. Some of you loved the wet hands method and some hated it. Some said the bread was the best yet, and others said it needed more salt (I agree, actually, about the salt). Some have devised original kneading methods (between two silpats or sheets of plastic wrap, for example), and others are using extensive stretch and fold techniques to strengthen the dough (sometimes reported success and sometimes not). The biggest issue is the lack of oven spring and, worse, shrinking of the loaves in the oven.
So onward, we will overcome, and thank you, especially those who have sacrificed sleep and suffered anxiety attacks over this process. Thanks for hanging in there....
And May Your Bread Always Rise (especially while baking--we want oven spring!)