The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Observations on whole grain breads

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Observations on whole grain breads

I just wanted to add a couple of observations about the 100% whole wheat sandwich breads I've been making lately.

First off, the epoxy method really does work. I've done it now by hand and by mixer and it really isn't that hard. I really like it. It seems to give the whole bread a better texture, and I'm getting whole grain breads that are soft enough for even my toddler to like it for PB&J sandwiches. And that's something.

Another thing is that I've noticed is that the whole wheat seems to stay softer longer than the white bread of the same type I make. I think that the epoxy method has something to do with that. If anyone else could comment on that, I'd really love to hear some ideas.

I find it all incredibly interesting.

azaelia's picture

I completely 100% agree. I've made two loaves using the epoxy method, and got fantastic results both times. My white bread got crumbly and dry after two days, but the whole wheat stays moist and chewy, which I love. 

I know it has something to do with the final dough being comprised of mostly preferment and soaker, with very little extra flour going into it. The whole wheat gets a chance to really soak up all the moisture that way.

I don't think I'll make my whole wheat any other way.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I've actually done it so that all the flour is either in the soaker or the preferment. I've found out that I prefer my whole wheat soaked or prefermented. ;)

I'm thinking of quite a few applications for this. Whole wheat bread with dried fruit for breakfast. Mini whole wheat cinnamon rolls as a snack. Oh, I'm going to have fun with this.

I have Whole Grain Breads out on loan from the local library...just in case you couldn't tell. ;)

Mason's picture

I don't think I can go back to not soaking and prefermenting.  I got my copy of WGB two weeks ago, and my baking has been revolutionized.

(I'm attempting one of  PR's Rye breads right now, and the dough fermenting on the counter beside me looks and feels way better than any high-percentage rye I have made before.  I'm very hopeful about the final result.)

The struan made by his epoxy method I made a few days ago was amazing.  It stayed moist longer, and was way lighter and more delicious than any 100% whole grain bread I have made like this in the past.

But in addition, soaking and prefermenting meant that I could also add in what seemed to me a crazy-huge amount of grains (Bob's Red Mill 5-grain oats; coarse cornmeal, flax seed meal, and cooked barley), and it still rose well and was light and flufy (but with a good dense chewyness that my family loves).  I was astounded that 100% whole wheat flour could hold up that much grain.

One main advantage of the soaker and preferment, I would guess, is that the bran in the flour is so well soaked that it does not slice up the sheets of gluten as much as whole wheat flour that had not been pre-hydrated.

There's also enzyme reactions and such, I'm sure, but I'm only beginning to understand that side of things.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

My next bread is going to be a 100% whole grain and oat bread. It'll probably need a little gluten flour to be really good, but I'm finding with the epoxy method that he speaks of you need less than you would normally. Maybe I'll go get some of the Bob's Red Mill 10 grain cereal and add that, after a hot soaker, into the bread as well. The more grains the merrier.