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Whole Grain Bread - the search for something that is not a brick.  RSS feed

 
Claire Gardner
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
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I am a really good baker, was raised on homemade bread and learned to make it at my mother's knee... When I tried to make the switch to whole grains, it got ugly. I finally gave up and would use half "white" flour, or add gluten. I even looked into making my own gluten - what an insane amount of work! I KNEW there had to be a way to make whole grain BREAD, all I could make was whole grain bricks.
I was recently given a cookbook with a tip for whole grain bread. Just a tip, no recipe, so I have been playing around a little bit... OH MY!!! The tip: Use a fermented milk product - buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt - for your liquid and let it sit 12-24 hours - and use baking soda and baking powder. It seemed odd to me, soda and powder AND yeast? I thought maybe they were talking about instead of yeast, so I tried using just yeast and sour cream, and it WORKED! The loaf was SO much lighter than all previous attempts... Then I got curious, tried with with soda, powder and yeast, sour cream for liquid (with a splash of milk to thin it.) WOW!!!
Whole wheat, no white flour, no gluten, and light and fluffy as a cupcake. It does not rise as beautifully as white bread, but it has a wonderful texture. So, here is where I would share my recipe, but I don't have one... so I'm ASKING for recipes!
I just did the "pinch of this dash of that method" - salt, honey, baking soda and powder, yeast, flour, sour cream and a little milk. I refrigerated it overnight, then let it rise in the morning, then shaped and let rise again, then baked. Does anyone have an actual recipe with ingredients like that? The key ones being soda, powder, yeast and fermented milk product? (And by the way - no sourdough taste, I am not a sourdough fan.)
 
Patrick Mann
Posts: 303
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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The extra protein and fat from added dairy contribute to a moister, more delicate crumb. I think that's causing the change in structure you are observing.
Baking powder adds leavening during baking, while the yeast does most of its work beforehand.
Here's my recipe for a honey toast bread that incorporates dairy, eggs, and honey in a mostly whole-grain bread.
 
Claire Gardner
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
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Thank you! I'll give it a try!
I am thinking that perhaps the soda and powder help lighten it during what amounts to a slow refrigerator rise, making the yeasts' job easier? It was definitely lighter with the bicarb combo than without it.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Are you milling your own flour?

What type of wheat are you using?

The most common is the hard red winter wheat. Which I find poor for bread unless it's to be processed into white flour.

I've been growing my own heirloom grains that are softer and make much better breads. Breads of days gone by.

And I don't use any milk it soda. Just water, wheat, salt, yeast or starter
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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We had resigned ourselves to wheat bread always being heavier, but got a new grinder this year and WOW what a difference only changing the grinder made. Getting the grind fine and consistent without overheating the grain makes a HUGE difference. After that discovery, we went back and tweaked the old grinder to see if it could do better--it could but we had tuned it for speed instead of quality.

If we have buttermilk we use it instead of the water in our normal recipe. We make our own butter by culturing the cream first, then churning (like the video posted in a thread here somewhere)--so it is a cultured buttermilk we have to use. It helps, too, but the grinder mattered more.
 
John Polk
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May I ask?
* What kind of grinder did you get?
* What setting made the difference for the old one?
* Any other details?

 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The old electric one was a whisper mill and the new one was a nutrimill, I think. The new one has a feed rate control that makes the difference. If we slowly poured the wheat into the old one it had the same effect.

We also played with hand grinders, as between our friends and ourselves we have country living, diamont, grainmaker, Lehmans and several old and cheap models. Any of the first three could do great flour the burrs are set as fine as possible (actually rubbing when empty) and turned at a consistent speed. It took 3-4 times longer than "normal."
 
Claire Gardner
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
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Jordan Lowery wrote:Are you milling your own flour?

What type of wheat are you using?

The most common is the hard red winter wheat. Which I find poor for bread unless it's to be processed into white flour.

I've been growing my own heirloom grains that are softer and make much better breads. Breads of days gone by.

And I don't use any milk it soda. Just water, wheat, salt, yeast or starter


I do mill my own, I have tried hard winter red and spring soft white. Too many other projects this year, but we hope to grow our own grain, too. What do you like best?
 
Claire Gardner
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
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R Scott wrote:Getting the grind fine and consistent without overheating the grain makes a HUGE difference. After that discovery, we went back and tweaked the old grinder to see if it could do better--it could but we had tuned it for speed instead of quality.


I'll try that again, I have played with it some already, but you raise an interesting point. While I normally grind my own wheat, my son bought me a bag of local, organic whole wheat flour for a gift and that was the flour I was using in my experiments.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Our favorite is hard white spring wheat (from Montana!)
 
David Livingston
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Soda bread is traditional in Ulster
http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Soda-Bread-Farls-with-Recipe--A1924
 
David Livingston
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Also this one for brown bread

http://allrecipes.co.uk/m/recipe/669/irish-wheaten-bread.aspx

David
 
Billy Kearney
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I grind HARD white spring wheat (same kind as mentioned above) and also make buttermilk bread that is light and high like white. However I don't use soda and what not, I let it rise twice for hour and a half and then 45 to 50 AND then 50 minutes of proof before baking. I experiment with other recipes but always find this one to be the best.
I weigh the dry ingredients so sorry in advance for not knowing the standard measures.
840g high protein flour
11g salt
2tsp yeast (hey I knew that one)
1/2c H2O to dissolve yeast
1 1/4c cold buttemilk
3/4c hot water (hot!)
1/4c brown sugar minus what goes with the yeast per instr.
Knead well...
 
Billy Kearney
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BTW hard wheat is(red or white) is the only wheat with enough protein to make tyre strong glutens needed to raise a light 100% whole wheat bread.
 
Billy Kearney
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Sorry for all the typos I am struggling with my phone
 
Matt Carroll
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For anyone interested, the best (most sandwich-bread-like) loaves I've made from my home-ground wheat were following the recipe in Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book. The method uses a Biga and Soaker - both wet-dough pre-starters - and takes about half a day to a day to ferment.

The loaf is perfect. And I mean PERFECT. (If sandwich bread is what you're looking for.)

Here's someone knocking off his recipe on their website if you wanna take a look before buying the book. (Nice rhyme!) It's a really good read if you're into whole grain baking though. Especially so if you are grinding your own and not using "whole wheat flour" from the grocery - home-ground is a different ballgame. The guy has an interesting personal story too - he's really into baking bread. Buy the book!

-Matt
 
Jeff Sayler
Posts: 29
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When I started making bread I had trouble with brick loaves at first. I figured out that, for me at least, the key is in the kneading. I knead each loaf 300 times. Usually I make 4 loaves at a time so I knead the whole thing 1200 times. It's a lot of work but it's worth it. I haven't had any bread that I feel is superior to what I make (don't tell my mom). All I use is Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour, water, salt, oil, honey and yeast. When I get everything perfect it rises as well as any white loaf and has a far superior texture.
 
Matt Carroll
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Dang....just realized I missed posting the recipe link I alluded to. Here it is.

While I'm at it, here's a great link to Peter Reinhart's TED talk as well as his Whole Grain Breads book on Amazon and in iTunes.

-Matt
 
Dayna Williams
Posts: 79
Location: Zone 8, Western Oregon
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No recipe here, but I would add that in addition to increasing fat/protein in the recipe, the fermented dairy actually helps break down the whole grain through the microbial action of the live cultures. I have some quick bread/muffin/waffle recipes that involve soaking whole wheat flour overnight in raw milk/yogurt/kefir, and they are SO light and fluffy people can't even tell they are 100% whole wheat! In addition to improved texture, the enzymes and bacteria in the fermented dairy improve the nutritional value of the bread and help neutralize phytic acid in the bran (which binds to nutrients and makes them unabsorbable by the body), similarly to sourdough. It's a win-win-win, I think.
 
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Ok, here is a recipe, but I use the stuff from the grocery.

Mixture from Salt and Yeast
* 9g Salt
* 50g Water
* 6g Yeast

Mix it together an give it a good stir. Keep the mixture over night at room temperature.

Soaker
* 250g Whole wheat flour
* 250g Milk (~ 3% fat) at room temperature

Stir together and let it sit for 2-3 hours (at room temperature)

Dough
* Mixture of Salt and Yeast (see above)
* Soaker (see above)
* 250g Whole wheat flour
* 10g Sugar (or a good teaspoon of Honey)
* 10g cornstarch
* 30g Butter (non salted)
* 40g Milk (~3% fat) at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon of ryemalt (or dark honey)

work all components (without the butter) to a dough (10 min if you use a machine). Add the butter and knead it again (for 6 min with the machine). Form a round loaf and let it raise for 3 hours under a bowl. Split the dough in 2 portions and give each portion into a mold. Let it raise a second time for 2-3 hours. Bake at 190°C for 45 minutes. Remove the bread from the mold an cool it down.

This should give a nice fluffy toastlike bread.

I use fresh yeast, not instant yeast.






 
Dayna Williams
Posts: 79
Location: Zone 8, Western Oregon
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Ludger, do you make your own fresh yeast, or buy it? I wouldn't even know how to go about finding fresh yeast, unless it is in a sourdough starter!
 
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Hi Dayna,

well I'm in germany. Here you can buy it in any supermarket. (It was more difficult about 15 years ago, but now it is easy (again))
But if you prefer a recipe for a "sourdough starter" - I hope I translate that correctly to "Sauerteig" - I have bread recipes for this also.
But most of them contain at least some percentage of rye, you rarely find pure wheat bread recipes with "Sauerteig".

If you need one, I could also provide a recipe to start your own "Sauerteig".

 
wayne stephen
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For thirty years I have been using the sponge method from the Tassajara bread book with great success . You can use it with any type of bread flour .
Here is a version I found on line . I have not tried this recipe . Just an example of the sponge method.

"First make the sponge:

3 cups water
* 1 and 1/3 TBS yeast
* 1/3 cup honey
* 4 cups whole wheat bread flour

To make the sponge: mix the yeast with a little of the water (warmed), and let it bubble up (to make sure it's OK). Add the rest of the water, and then mix in the honey and whole wheat flour. Then beat about 100 times until it's very smooth.
Let the sponge rise in a warm place until about doubled in bulk. 45 - 70 minutes.

Fold in the rest:

* 1/3 cup oil
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup cracked or whole millet - (optional but nice, or you can use rolled oats instead, or just skip the optional ingredient)
* more whole wheat flour - (enough to make dough of the right consistency, maybe about 3-4 cups more)
Knead very well. Let rise until about doubled in bulk - again about an hour. Punch down.
Let rise (again! - you're now at the 3rd rising) for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until about doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Form into loaves and let rise in the (oiled or Pam'd) bread pans for about 30 to 45 minutes. Whole grain bread tends to stick to the pans, so non-stick bread pans are really, really useful here. I use non-stick bread pans and spray them lightly with Pam or similar.
You can brush the top with an egg-wash (beaten egg white with a little water) for a shiny crust, if you want to. Cut slits or crosses in the top to let steam escape. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45-70 minutes. Top will be shiny brown when done, sides and bottoms also golden brown, and loaf will go "thump" (deep thump) when you tap it on the bottom (after removing from the pan)."

The secret to a good sponge is to form a consistency like a thick pancake batter and beat it thoroughly . You can see the gluten threads forming . The extra rising time softens the dough and gives it more flavor . Also easier to knead since mixing the sponge does most of that before you turn the dough onto the board. I do not use recipes or measurements anymore . I add water , a little honey , yeast , and enough flour to make the sponge . Then I add just enough flour to make a kneadable dough . No bricks . If you can find the Tassara Bread Book I highly recomend it .




 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 477
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I agree with the sponge method. I typically make a poolish and cool ferment it for three days before making bread with it. The secret is a slow ferment.

I also found that kneading is a technique suited for refined white flour and fast baking. People experienced with making whole grain breads maintain that the bran in whole flours act as small knives while kneading the dough, and they cut the gluten strands which is counter productive.

I've found through a lot of trial and error baking with rye (a low gluten grain), that if I use a slow ferment approach, then I get better results if I do not knead the bread at all. I use a wet dough, and will "fold" the dough once (like when making ciabatta):


 
Anne Miller
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This article has information on grinding your own flour and a whole wheat bread recipe.

Bread The staff of life
 
Elizabeth Smith
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Wow, so great to see that this article has a lot of replies because this is also something that I have been struggling with. I recently found something that has been fairly successful for me, using 100% whole wheat sourdough starter. I have looked at recipes online, but I have the best luck with just following my intuition and experience as all starters are different. I will say a long ferment and a wet dough seem to be important.

I just use sourdough starter, whole wheat flour, water and salt. It can't get much easier than that! Tastes fantastic with honey and olive oil on top! Yields light, airy dough (never thought you'd hear that about 100% whole wheat!)
 
Elmira Rose
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I've devoted a lot of time to making whole grain bread for the past two winters. I only use sourdough starter, wholegrains, salt, and water. I taught myself using two books: Tartine and Flour Water Salt Yeast. These books use a simple method of high hydration of the flour, folding the dough instead of kneading, and long rising times. The results are amazing! Complex flavored bread with and airy crumb. I think the key to home baking any bread (which I found in the books mentioned) is placing the loaf in a dutch oven in your oven. -preheat dutch oven. At first I followed the directions in the books to a T and eventually developed a feel for things and now I just follow my nose and the feel of the dough.
Other people mentioned high hydration doughs and I really think that this will give good consistent results with simple ingredients.
I would also like to mention this method works well with low protien flours and the authors prefer them.

 
Joy Oasis
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Slow fermentation also makes nutrients available. I wonder, if I would just use glass pan with cover would it work instead of Dutch oven?
 
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