So here goes, my first entry. I have been lurking around these parts for a while, gathering information and experimenting and this is the result: a 100% wholemeal sandwich loaf, using atta flour.
This project began around one year ago after I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and had to overhaul both my diet and lifestyle. Out went the white bread sandwich for breakfast every morning, and the hunt was on for a replacement. Living in Francophone West Africa, where it is super-easy to get white baguettes etc., finding a decent wholemeal loaf was
very difficult virtually impossible. That left me with only one solution: to start making my own.
After some searching on the internet, the received wisdom seemed to be that bread made with 100% wholemeal flour was, by definition, unpalatably dense; due to both the lower levels of gluten in brown flour and the propensity of the bran's sharp edges to slice through what little gluten there was. I also recalled from years ago when my mum used to bake bread when I was young that she used a 2:1 brown to white mix. Faced with the prospect of finding a solution that would last me the rest of my life, I resolved to find a recipe that used 100% wholemeal flour and was nice to eat. Being married to a half-Indian lady, I had also been introduced to atta flour. I was keen to try this in bread since it is (a) 100% wholemeal and (b) smoother than Western-style brown flour.
After some time, it became apparent that there was no one recipe out there which could satisfy all of my requirements, so I started experimenting and combining the best parts of various other recipes which I had found. The following recipe is the result of those experiments. Any tips from those more experienced than myself would be greatly appreciated.
100% Wholemeal Brown Bread (Atta Flour)
- 6 cups Atta Flour
- 2 cups, 2 Tablespoons Water
- 1/4 cup Plain Yoghurt
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 2 teaspoons Herbs (optional)
- A little Milk
- Take two large bowls. In Bowl 1 (Autolyse), add 4 cups of flour and 1 cup of water and mix well. This should result in the flour forming into small clumps. In Bowl 2 (Poolish), add 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of yeast, 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of yoghurt and mix well. This should result in a smooth, soft, wet dough.
- Cover both bowls with a tea towel and leave for one hour. After this time, you should be able to see the yeast working; the dough in Bowl 2 has expanded and the surface is pock-marked by small bubbles.
- Add the salt, sugar and olive oil (and herbs, if using) into Bowl 1 and mix well enough to ensure that the salt is well spread throughout the mixture.
- Combine the two bowls into one and mix until the dough forms a cohesive whole. There will still be small hard lumps at this stage.
- Tip the dough out onto an oiled work surface and knead well until all of the small lumps have been absorbed and you have a homogenous dough.
- Slowly add around 2 tablespoons of water as you kneed, and more oil if you prefer, so that the dough becomes slightly sticky.
- Continue to kneed for another 10-15 minutes; the dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. The dough will stick to the work surface if left to sit, but not when kept moving.
- Place the dough in a bowl, lightly brush the top with water, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for around one hour.
- Deflate the dough and allow it to continue fermenting for 30 minutes more.
- Turn the dough out onto the work surface and cut into two pieces. Shape into loaves and place into greased tins.
- Cover and leave in a warm place for around 45 minutes; until the loaves rise to the tops of the tins.
- Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with a little milk. Bake for 10 minutes at 220°C, then reduce to 200°C for a further 20 minutes.
- When the loaves are fully baked (sound hollow when tapped), remove from the oven. Allow them to cool in the tins for around 10 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack.
Working time: 45 minutes
Waiting time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total: 4.5 hours
To be used when short of time. I would use this if I were baking in the evening, once the kids were in bed and I needed bread for breakfast the next morning. The results are satisfactory to put bread on the table, but not fantastic.
Reduce Steps 2 & 11 to 30 minutes, Step 7 to 10 minutes and Step 8 to 40 minutes. Eliminate Step 9. Total: 2.5 hours