The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Grain Baking

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The first week of December featured a lot of baking, in marked contrast to the prior week.  Having my hands in that much dough was a genuine pleasure.  Even better was the knowledge that most of it was for the benefit of others, rather than for myself.

On Saturday, December 1, I finished my shopping and dropped off the ingredients in preparation for a class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  I also prepared biga that evening for a batch of Stollen.  On Sunday afternoon, I prepared and baked the Stollen, three loaves worth, and two loaves of a Bohemian Christmas Braid.  Students who get to see what the finished product looks like, and enjoy eating it, in class go home happier than those who do not.  (And they did like the taste of these breads!)  On Monday evening, I prepped enough biga for 20 batches of Stollen. 

The Bohemian Christmas Braid, before and after glazing (it's easy to see why my wife handled braiding duties for our daughters' hair):

And the stollen, prior to basting with melted butter and blanketing in sugar:

The class on Tuesday evening ran from 6:30 to 9:00.  I arrived at the Center just after 4:30 and spent the next couple of hours prepping ingredients, portioning the biga, and prepping one batch each of Stollen and Braid dough so that they would be available for demonstrating shaping techniques.  Meanwhile, my assistant was setting out the required implements at the student workstations and taking care of other room preparations.  The students started rolling in as we were wrapping up our set-up steps, so we were able to start right on time. 

The students ranged from bread baking newbies to experienced bakers wanting to pick up some additional information about the specific breads being taught that evening.  For instance, one lady was curious about what adjustments she would need to make since she mills her own flour at home.  Regardless of their experience levels, they were a wonderful group to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

It’s interesting how little things crop up.  We ran short of fruit peel for the Stollen because I made a mistake in my estimating.  However, we had more raisins and currants than required, which I had anticipated, and that allowed us to make up for the shortfall in the fruit peels.  It also gave a good opportunity to illustrate how to be flexible while baking, adapting to unforeseen circumstances.  I’m still scratching my head about the flour though.  Since I didn’t have the final count when I shopped, I assumed that all 20 places would be filled.  From what I calculated, we needed about 42 pounds of flour; therefore, I picked up a 50-pound sack at Costco.  We used up every bit of that flour and pulled some from the Center’s pantry!  Since I haven’t found an error in my calculations, it’s still a mystery to me how that much flour was used. 

On Friday, December 7, I baked 6 loaves of a Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread, adapted from the Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread in the KAF Whole Grain Baking book.  Six, because that’s as many 9x5 bread pans as I have and because that’s as many as can easily fit in my oven.  Then on Saturday I made 4 more loaves.  We hosted the Christmas party for my wife’s colleagues on Sunday and the bread was for gifts for them and for some other friends.  And one for us, too!  In addition to making fabulous toast, this bread goes really well with ham and cheese.  Other baking that Saturday for the party included about 3 dozen Eggshell Rolls from Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads and Rye Rolls, source not recalled at the moment.  The Rye Rolls got a bit of a tweak when I substituted 1 teaspoon of caraway and ½ teaspoon each of coriander and fennel seeds, crushed, for the called-for 2 teaspoons of caraway. 

Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread dough:

Baked and bagged:

Eggshell Rolls:

Rye Rolls:

The  Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread also marked the first time I have used the Great River brand of whole wheat flour.  I had picked up a 10-pound bag at our local Costco, having seen it there for the first time.  I believe PostalGrunt mentioned it in a recent post of his, too.  Based on my experience, I like this flour.  The grind is quite fine.  I should buy some Wheat Montana flour again to see whether one has a finer grind than the other, or if their textures are approximately equal.  The bran flecks are the same size as the rest of the particles.  My first guess would have been that the flour is produced with roller mills but the Great River Milling site says it is stone-ground.  Although I couldn’t locate a precise analysis, GRM says that their bread flours are milled from hard red spring wheat and “we strive to purchase wheat that contains 14 percent protein and strong gluten content.”  From a purely empirical point of view, I’d say that they hit their target for the bag I purchased.  Not surprisingly, I had to increase the liquid content to achieve the desired dough consistency.  The resulting dough handled well and rose well, too.

The Great River flour bag:

This past weekend I made a batch of Cromarty Cob from Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. Having blogged about this bread previously, here, I won’t go through a blow-by-blow account this time.  I made two deviations from Mr. Whitley’s formula and process.  First, I increased amounts by 50% to produce two medium-size loaves, rather than one large loaf.  Second, I let fermentation proceed at ambient temperatures in my kitchen, which ranged from 65-68F, instead of the recommended 82F temperature.  As a result, fermentation times for the levain and for the final dough were in the 12-hour range, each.  With the whole-wheat content being approximately 50%, this yielded a bread with a noticeable sourdough tang.  The wheaty flavors that were masked by the cinnamon and raisins in the Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread get to shine in this loaf, too.  I expect that using a higher fermentation temperature would lead to a bread with a more subtle sourness and, therefore, a more wheat-forward flavor and fragrance.  As it is, I’m every bit as happy with this bread as I was the first time I made it.  And I’m happy to have found another high-quality whole wheat flour to work with that doesn’t inflict exorbitant shipping costs.

Since odds are pretty good that I won’t post any new blog entries between now and Christmas, please let me wish each of you a blessed and merry Christmas.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Although my posting has been erratic, baking has continued at a fairly steady pace.

The Saturday of the Easter weekend, I baked Beth Hensperger's Sweet Vanilla Challah from her Bread Bible.  It is a favorite of my older grandson and we took a loaf with us for dinner with he and his parents.  I've blogged about it previously.  By the way, if any lasts long enough, it makes some of the best french toast, ever!  The turban shape is still a favorite of mine for its elegance and simplicity:

I also baked some honey whole wheat bread that same day for sandwiches:

This weekend, I managed to squeeze in a pain au levain with whole wheat, from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book.  One loaf was served at dinner with friends today and one went home with them (along with a bunch of hostas that were getting too big for their growing area.  Loaf:

Crumb:

I had elected to do some kneading for the dough, followed by a single stretch and fold about 45 minutes into the bulk ferment.  My rationale was that I wanted a finer, rather than more open, crumb.  It worked.  Other tweaks included bumping up the quantities by about 40% to achieve slightly larger loaves and using an autolyse of nearly an hour, which is longer than mentioned in the formula.  Otherwise, I hewed to the directions and was rewarded with some bread that is pleasing to the eye and the tongue.  

Paul

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


I am continuing my exploration of fresh-ground flour this week with another bake of Peter Reinhart's “100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread” from Whole Grain Baking. I baked this bread three weeks ago and found the flavor marvelous, but the crumb was somewhat dense and cakey. I had ground the flour from hard red Winter wheat at the second from the finest setting. I did like the chewiness from the coarser ground grains. So, looking for a lighter loaf overall but maintaining the chewiness, I modified the formula and procedures somewhat.


Reinhart's formula calls for half the flour in a soaker of flour, milk product and salt. For the liquid, I used ¾ non-fat Greek-style yoghurt and ¼ water. The rest of the flour is in a biga made with flour, water and instant yeast. The biga is mixed, kneaded and refrigerated overnight.


I ground the wheat for the biga at the finest setting of my KitchenAid Grain Mill. This resulted in flour that was still a bit coarser than KAF WW flour, for example. I ground the wheat for the soaker at a medium-coarse setting.


I thought that I could get a lighter crumb and higher rising loaf if I developed the gluten in the biga portion before adding the soaker to the mix. So, I added all the other ingredients (salt, yeast, honey and canola oil) to the biga in the mixer bowl. I mixed for a couple minutes with the paddle at Speed 1, then with the dough hook for 11 minutes at Speed 2. The dough was rather sticky, but it cleaned the sides of the bowl, almost cleaned the bottom and had window paning. I then added in the soaker, which was quite crumbly, and mixed with the dough hook until it was incorporated into the dough.


After a 5 minute rest, I briefly kneaded the dough on the board, incorporating another couple tablespoons of fine ground whole wheat in the process, then transferred the dough to an oiled batter pitcher for bulk fermentation. Fermentation, proofing and baking were according to Reinhart's instructions. Note that, three weeks ago, I baked this bread in a Le Creuset oval Dutch oven. Today, I baked on a baking stone and steamed the oven using the SFBI method I've described in earlier postings.




The crust was crunchy, especially from the coarser pieces of wheat. The crumb reminds me of a 100% rye with rye chops. It's not what I was aiming for, but it is interesting. The crumb has two distinct textures from the different grinds of grain - tender and chewy-crunchy. The flavor is delicious.


I'd count this a worthwhile learning experience, but it's still not my ideal crumb for this bread. 


The other bread that I baked today was my San Joaquin Sourdough. I fed the levain with a 50/50 mix of KAF Sir Galahad and fresh-ground whole wheat. The final dough had 5% fresh-ground rye.



San Joaquin Sourdough breads with Julia Drayton Camelias



San Joaquin Sourdough Crumb


David


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


A couple weeks ago, I posted my bake of the Whole Wheat Bread from Reinhart's BBA, made with fresh-milled flour. A reply by Karin (hanseata) prompted me to bake the “100% Whole Wheat Bread” from Reinhart's newer Whole Grain Baking book. I had made this bread once before leavened with sourdough starter and didn't particularly care for the combination of sourdough tang and whole wheat flavor, but I thought I really should make it again using instant yeast and with fresh-milled whole wheat.


The differences between the formulas for whole wheat bread in BBA and WGB are clearly evolutionary and illustrate where Reinhart has gone with his thinking about drawing the best possible flavor and performance from whole grain flours. In the WGB version, essentially all the flour is either in a biga or a soaker, with an optional additional small amount used to adjustment dough consistency, if needed.


I followed the recipe in WGB closely, with these choices where there were options: For the liquid in the soaker, I used about 2/3 Greek-style yoghurt and 1/3 2% milk. For the fat, I used canola oil. I added less than an ounce of additional WW flour during kneading.


After bulk fermentation, I shaped a single bâtard which was proofed on a linen couch then baked in a Le Creuset oval roaster (in which it barely fit).



I baked at 425ºF (convection bake) with the cover on the roaster. After 10 minutes, I reduced the temperature to 350ºF, and, after 10 minutes more, I removed the cover. I baked another 20 minutes with the roaster uncovered. At that point, I felt the crust should be darker and firmer, although the internal temperature of the loaf was 185ºF. I removed the loaf from the roaster, placed it on a sheet pan and baked for another 10 minutes. I left the loaf in the turned off oven with the door ajar for another 10 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack.



The crust is thin, slightly crunchy and chewy. The texture of the crumb is moist and chewy – hard to describe but very pleasing. The chewiness is from the larger particles of grain, rather than from the gluten in the crumb. The crumb is otherwise quite soft – almost cake-like. I milled the wheat to the second finest setting. Next time, I plan to mill it at the finest setting, at least for the biga. The flavor is very similar to that of the BBA whole wheat bread but even better. There is no grassiness or bitterness from the bran, just a little sweetness from the honey and the wheat itself and good wheaty flavors. I much prefer this yeasted version to the sourdough one. 


This bread does not need any spreads or other enhancements. It is very satisfying plain. But I'm anticipating it will be equally delicious with almond butter or with eggs.


I also baked a couple boules of sourdough bread today. I used one of the formulas from the SFBI Artisan II Workshop, which calls for a liquid levain fed twice a day. These were baked in Lodge Combo Cookers.



David


Submitted to YeastSpotting


 

Salome's picture

Two books to order

August 27, 2009 - 7:12am -- Salome
Forums: 

I decided to order two english bread books to my uncle's home, who will come and visit us in a couple weeks. Books are probably everywhere cheaper than in Switzerland, this way I will be able to save around 30 Dollars, which is a lot for a student like me.


Now, question: which books? I decided to order for at least 25 $, because otherwise I'd have to pay for the shipping anyway. I rather spend my money for books only. ;)


I've already got Reinhart's BBA and Hamelman's Bread.

hmneilson's picture

Peter Reinhart class in Northern California this month

July 6, 2008 - 1:51pm -- hmneilson
Forums: 

Hi Folks,

I just recently found the Fresh Loaf (and love it, I'm learning soo much!)... so I dont know if someone has posted this already,  but I just saw that Peter Reinhart is going to be at the COPIA center in Napa on July 20th.  He's going to be covering topics from the new Whole Grain book. 

I just got the BBA book this week... and coincidentally made my first ever truly edible loaves... so I'll probably be going to see what other magic might rub off on me ;-)

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Well, now that the World Series is over, I can post...

This weekend, I made the Power Bread from PR's new book. It's the third bread I've made from that book, and I think I like it best. It's dense and heavy, with a definite sweetness and lots of crunchy bits, thanks to sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. It's like a trip back to the whole wheat 70s, if you remember that time...and if you don't, I don't want to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a choice of milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy or rice milk for the biga. I used nonfat yogurt. The sweetener in the final dough was brown sugar. Just reading the list of ingredients makes you feel nutritionally virtuous. I really liked the idea of a puree of raisins and flaxseeds. The loaf is literally heavy, but not like a doorstop...there's just so much good stuff in there! I baked it a full 50 minutes before it reached 195 degrees, and I think it could have gone a bit longer. The crumb looked just a bit moist in the middle when I cut into it more than an hour later. You can see the sunflower seeds in the crumb, and a looser section through the middle.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added around 2/3 to a full cup of extra flour during mixing and kneading. It was still pretty sticky in keeping with the 'no fun to knead' nature of the three breads I've made from this book. The dough rose very well in the bulk and pan proofs, but got no oven spring. Overall, I really like this bread.

Sue

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

My Valentine present, which had been back-ordered, showed up while I was out of town last week: the KAF Whole Grain Baking book.  My, oh my, oh my!  There is some serious baking to do!  Since our grandson is staying with us for part of his spring break and since he loves cinnamon toast for breakfast, I decided to start last evening with the honey oatmeal bread recipe, which has a cinnamon swirl option.  It contains honey and oatmeal, natch, as well as whole wheat flour, unbleached AP flour, butter and other good things.  I didn't have any nonfat dry milk on hand, but the bread doesn't seem to have suffered any as a result.  The cinnamon swirl mixture contains egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon (2 tablespoons!) and flour. 

The texture is surprisingly light for a mostly whole grain bread, as well as being moist and tender.  It toasts up wonderfully, with both the honey and the cinnamon flavors being very noticeable.  Here's a picture:

Honey oatmeal cinnamon swirl

I think that the egg white and flour in the cinnamon mixture kept the layers of the roll from separating or creating pockets, as has often been the case with other recipes that I have made.

This was everything that I anticipated, and more, so I have high hopes for other recipes in the book.  The only downside may be a dent in my pocket to buy spelt and other not-so-common flours, if and when I can find them locally. 

Paul

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