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

 
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.)
 
Posts: 310
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.
 
pollinator
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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
 
pollinator
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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.
 
steward
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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
pollinator
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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
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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
pollinator
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Our favorite is hard white spring wheat (from Montana!)
 
pollinator
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Soda bread is traditional in Ulster
http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Soda-Bread-Farls-with-Recipe--A1924
 
David Livingston
pollinator
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Also this one for brown bread

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

David
 
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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
 
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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
 
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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
 
Posts: 83
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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.
 
Posts: 171
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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: 83
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
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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".

 
steward
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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 .




 
pollinator
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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):


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

Bread The staff of life
 
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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!)
 
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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.

 
pollinator
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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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Laurels kitchen bread book of whole grain baking has great recipes. The buttermilk bread is awesome. Does ask for butter tho but no enhancers.
 
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A few things to keep in mind when using freshly ground flour: it takes a little longer to absorb the liquid so give it some extra time when mixing. When you first start, it's easy to add too much flour and then you'll end up with very dense dough and "brick" loaves. It's also helpful to keep your salt away from your yeast. Salt inhibits yeast, so I like to add about 1/2 my flour and mix, then add the salt, and add the final flour.

Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread book is excellent! It discusses the biga and soaker methods (with options for using buttermilk or yogurt) and has excellent step by step recipes and pictures.

Sue Becker's "The Essential Home-Ground Flour book is also an excellent choice for recipes using freshly milled grains.

Those books can be found here: https://pleasanthillgrain.com/cooks-tools/cookbooks-dvds#category543

I also just spoke with a customer who loves the Tassajara Whole Wheat Bread recipe. I haven't tried it yet but am hoping to soon! https://sweetinspire.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/tassajara-whole-wheat-bread/
 
gardener
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Slow fermentation, plus maybe a fermented dairy product and multiple feedings of the starter seem to do the trick.
Germany is sourdough-country so there are many recipes for wholemeal breads.

You might give the following a try if Google translate or Deepl make sense of it:
Red wheat sourdough loaf
Alpine wheat sourdough bread
Buns with yoghurt and quark

I can help out with translation. The owner of the blog is one of the master bakers of Germany who also gives classes.
 
pioneer
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Look at you all!
I've dreamed of making a most basic food like bread from scratch for a long time. Getting a grain mill/grinder has long been on my wish list. I hope the WV property will enable me to grow my own wheat to grind for my bread.

Living in the city now with growing space about the size of a bathroom (and a bathroom the size of a postage stamp), I'm doing good just to get a few beans or broccoli,  maybe a couple tomatoes out of my space. But I occasionally get a bug to make my own bread.

I have fond memories of my first sourdough starter when I was a young adult,  churning out a couple dozen roll-sized loaves a week for probably a month. I don't remember what caused that to come to an end. It was a turbulent time in my life. But those rolls were yummy.

I've had a few other sourdough escapades over the years.  And I've had a bread machine for years, but I find the hole in the bottom off-putting.

If I had already prioritized a grain mill into my life, I know I could order buckets of whole wheat. Living a city life isn't conducive to regular bread baking.

But who can say anything bad about fresh, still warm bread or the heady fragrance of it baking?  I just know I will now be lamenting a broken oven as the bread bug bites.
 
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I use a breadmaker for kneading. I order a 25kg bag of grain every few months to put through my grinder when required.
So, 9/10g of dry yeast in the bottom of the container, 630g of just ground (and so warm) flour, 450ml of a bit warm tap water, 5g of salt on top.
Three hours 15mins later a slightly too sticky mix. I hate the sticky, that's why I use the machine.
Turn it out onto some of the same flour, sesame and linseeds, squash it out, roll it up, (the roll needs to create tension so if it wasn't sticky it would try to unroll itself), repeat to pick up all the seeds, dump it into the tin, push it into the corners. Cut shallow slices in the top surface to allow it to rise more easily, sprinkle missed flour and seeds on top, cover with a raised (cake fly cover net thing for support) teatowel to keep the heat in till it pokes up above the tin.
Sometimes I do this but leave it in the fridge overnight if timings mean I need to cook in the morning, but the rise can get more sketchy.
If I don't turn it out straight away at the end of the machines timer even though it hasn't sunk in the container I don't get the same rise once in the tin. You snooze you lose.
Just before ovening a tiny splash of boiling water from the kettle over the top.
Sitting on a small pre-heated pizza stone thing, 10 mins at 230 C, 30 mins at 200 C. Tip onto drying rack, cover with teatowel to cool and dry out a bit.
Mostly, it's not a brick. I like the lack of anything else added.
 
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I've been making, off and on over the years, a whole wheat bread recipe I created back in the 90's . It's almost as soft as a loaf of sandwich bread from the store. Just not as pasty.
After watching a few videos about baking recently I learned that it's a 'fat bread' (has milk and butter in it) as opposed to a 'lean bread' (basically flour water and salt). My bread comes out like a heavy crumby cake.
I also kneed flour into it until it's not sticky. I think the video described it as a dry dough , as opposed to a wet dough. There was something about moisture percentages between the two, but I forget.
Most reports from people I've shared it with say ; Toasted the second day with butter and jam is just as good as warm out of the oven.
I made a truckload of 'bricks' before i figured out how to make soft , almost fluffy, whole wheat bread.
 
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Claire Gardner wrote: (And by the way - no sourdough taste, I am not a sourdough fan.)



So, just a plug: many sourdoughs taste VERY different.  I did not think I liked sourdough at all, and then my sister made a starter.... from scratch... and the bread that starter makes is nothing like any sourdough loaf I have every had before.

I guess I just want to suggest trying it again in the future, or not striking it completely forever.  
 
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I've been into canning - a lot, for me - in the past few years but not much in baking at all.
SO, at 80, I'm learning to bake bread and make bisquits.
Just made a loaf of bread last night off of this recipe and it came out great.
You have to really follow all of the steps in the recipe though. My first loaf came out great, I missed a step in loaf #2 and blah, and last night was loaf #3 and it came out great again.
I hope some of you good cooks/bakers will try this and give some feedback on what you think of it.

http://www.thespruceeats.com/super-easy-bread-for-beginners-428108
 
Jesse Glessner
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O.K., here is a fun bake - 'How To Make Pine Tree Bread'
I know that American Indians and other ancient peoples used many plants and fibers, but I never heard of this.
This comes from the "Ask A Prepper" Web Site.

https://www.askaprepper.com/how-to-make-pine-bark-bread/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=AAP

I would think that one would have to be pretty hungry to try this.

SO, how about it, has anyone ever made this bread?
 
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Lyssa Steponaitis wrote:many sourdoughs taste VERY different.



VERY true!  It's all about the grains and the microbes on them from the field.  I created a starter that was 100% whole wheat, and it had a very buttery smell.  I also created a 100% rye starter, and it was boozy and fruity.  Blending them 50/50 got me what I was looking for, with the best of both.

You can further affect the sourness of the bread by altering the state of the starter and the quantity.  If you have a weaker (read: "underfed") starter, the fermentation process will take longer, and you'll typically end up with a tangier flavor as a result.  You can get a similar effect by using a smaller amount of starter...it'll take longer to ferment the loaf, and longer fermentation = more of dat funk (the good kind).  Much credit to Food Geek for his videos around this.  My guess is that a cold proof also helps here.

I've only really experimented using lean breads, but one thing I like to do is add some barley flour (poor approximation for barley malt) with the hopes that the extra amylase will release more sugars for the li'l ones to feast on during fermentation.

Anyway, lots of wiggle room to try different things to affect the flavor.  Don't give up!
 
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Lyssa Steponaitis wrote:

Claire Gardner wrote: (And by the way - no sourdough taste, I am not a sourdough fan.)



So, just a plug: many sourdoughs taste VERY different.  I did not think I liked sourdough at all, and then my sister made a starter.... from scratch... and the bread that starter makes is nothing like any sourdough loaf I have every had before.



This is very true.  Some people assume that all sourdough tastes like a classic San Francisco sourdough: super tangy and sour.  Not so.  Many are much milder.  It depends on many things: the culture that you use, the grains, how long you ferment, etc.  Different combinations of factors will result in more lactic acid, or less, more acetic acid, or less.  All impact the flavor.

I make a 50%-whole-grain sourdough with mostly einkorn (plus some home-milled rye and a few other things) using a long ferment no-knead method.  No yeast.  My sourdough starter began with a commercial culture bought from King Arthur.  My resulting loaves are rich and tasty, but really not very sour at all.  The first slice, served warm with butter has a nice sourdough flavor, but after that it is often hard to detect at all.  It's tasty bread, but not particularly sour.  In fact, I'd prefer if it was more sour!
 
Matthew Nistico
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Nick Kitchener wrote: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)



I agree.  This is consistent with what I've read and what I've experienced.  Mostly.  I use a high-hydration dough and a slow ferment.  I've never used the sponge method, just mix up all the dough, let ferment at least 10 hours, then fold several times, let proof another hour in a basket, then bake.  I've never kneaded it.  My recipe is 50/50 white-to-whole grain, based on einkorn and some rye, plus a few other grains in small amounts and some added vital wheat gluten, with all the whole grains freshly milled at home.

I'll be honest: my loaves don't have quite the rise I'd like.  But they are far from bricks!  I consider them fairly successful for whole-grain bread.

Such no-knead techniques are discussed in a bit more depth here: permies no-knead breads

I should also note that I bake inside a pre-heated Dutch oven, which gives a lovely crust.  It's said it also increases the oven-spring by concentrating steam.  But I've never tried baking without it, or baking from a cold oven start, to compare the difference.

So far, these techniques have given fairly good results, as I said.  But I'm curious to experiment with other techniques.  I like my recipe, so I don't know if I will change ingredients much.  I have experimented, so far with good results, sub'ing bone broth or Guinness for the water in my dough.  I'd like to try sub'ing kefir as well.  And I've just bought an unglazed ceramic bread baking bowl that I can't wait to try.  I plan to try it pre-heated, if it can stand the empty pre-heat, and from a cold start.

I've also read a new book for making sourdough without a starter: Smart Sourdough by Mark Shephard.  Which is really about starting a new, spontaneous bacterial culture with each batch, accelerating the culture development and the dough fermentation all into 24 hours by using incubation temperatures above 100 degrees F, then adding yeast at the end.  This sounds pretty exciting, as historically I've proven unreliable about keeping my starter well maintained.

Lots of new combinations.  I'll be sure to report back once I've tried them all.
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