The Fresh Loaf

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Can a whole wheat starter be used in French Bread?

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kimes's picture
kimes

Can a whole wheat starter be used in French Bread?

I have recently been looking through books on whole grain breads.  I have yet to see any information on a whole wheat french bread and am wondering if it is because of the unique qualities of this type of bread.


I really have two questions:


1) Is there a whole wheat French Bread recipe available, that still maintains the slight sourness, airy texture, and large holes?


2)  Would using a whole wheat sourdough(ish) starter effect the flavoring?  Would any adjustments need to be made?


 


Thanks for your imput!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, kimes.


Whole wheat bread is certainly made in France. It is called "pain complet." A Google search on "pain complet" will find many recipes. This search will yield web sites in French, however. Google Translate will give you interesting translations, if you don't read French, but you can probably make sense of them. If you get stuck, there are enough French speakers on TFL to help you out - even a few whose first language was French, e.g., MC. 


Since you are looking for a French whole wheat sourdough, look for recipes for Pain complet au levain or ones that call for levain. And you can certainly make them with a starter fed whole wheat.


Note that the French have access to a wider range of high extraction flours than we do in the U.S. Their "type 150" flour is what we call "whole wheat" (100% extraction), but they also have type 110 and type 80 which have some but not all of the germ and bran removed. Their "white" flour is "type 55."


As far as the crumb goes, I have seen some 100% WW sourdoughs with relatively open crumb, but the bran cuts the gluten strands, so the crumb is generally denser than breads made with white flour.


I hope this helps.


David

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

David-


Have you ever tried sifting the bran out and than adding it back like you add nuts or seeds after the gluten is fully developed? I haven't tried this yet but it is going to be one of my projects in the future. I don't mind the more closed crumb but would like a more open crumb for whole wheat foccacia and french bread.


Since my husband and I don't really like the flavor of white breads I haven't really spent much time baking the white breads but I really do want to start branching out into the crusty, open crumb types and I'm sure there is a way to make good whole grain crusty french sourdough with decent crumb I just haven't found explored it yet.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

But it's an interesting idea. If you try it, let us see how it works.


David

kimes's picture
kimes

I would also like to know how this works out, please do share when you get around to it!  (ps- what would you use to sift out the bran at home? Curious)


thanks for the great idea!

enaid's picture
enaid

Just use an ordinary kitchen sieve.  I always sieve my flour before baking. even though most flour is pre-sifted. When sifting wholewheat flour, the bran will stay in the sieve.  I then soak the bran for about 1/2 hr. and squeeze out the excess liquid.  I then add the bran after I have mixed and rested the rest of the ingredients.  It works out great.  Or, one could just use white bread flour and add wheat bran which is what I sometimes do if I have run out of wholewheat flour.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

This is why I love reading this forum! It is loaded with wonderful ideas and it makes me think. I will try this next time I'm baking a loaf that I want a lighter texture to. I'm sure I'll get a chance to try in the next week or so. I guess I'm going to have to just bite the bullet and buy a third sifter to use while I'm in this RV, even though I have one more than I need packed away in my household goods.


I'm seeing a big garage sale happening when we get back into our house!

kimes's picture
kimes

What a wonderfully insightful post!  Thank you, merci!! :)


It is exactly what i needed.

cgmeyer2's picture
cgmeyer2

my husband loves white bread but i do not. i have solved our problem by adding wheat germ, wheat bran & flax seed to a white bread recipe. i've even starting adding caraway & sesame seeds. he loves it.


start w/ a tblsp or 2 of each type of additional grain or seed & increase until you find the right proportion for you. so far it has worked for us.


 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Last night we had pizza which I made from dough that was 75gms whole wheat, 75gms whole durum wheat and 100gms all purpose. It had 1 cup of water. Didn't figure out the percent water but I'm sure it was really high. In fact, I sloshed a little extra water, probably 1/8 a cup in to make up for the extra whole grain. Let it set for overnight in the fridge after doubling on the countertop.


This dough had great big holes, chewy, crusty. I bet I could make french bread with this recipe! I'm not sure what does it. The incredibly high hydration, the durum or the stone ground flours but it rises high and gets really holey and chewy, not at all like "typical" wheat breads.


I'm going to keep pushing my whole grain percent on this formula until I get it all the way to 100% and see what it does to the texture. I'm hoping I can maintain this lovely texture with this method. Maybe I'll even try some ficelles or a baguette while I'm at it, although it will be tough to hold a baguette shape. Will need a few folds to do it.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I make a somewhat similar pizza dough. It is 34% whole wheat, 33% semolina, 33% bread flour. Very "puffy". Last time I made it, I used it for breakfast pizza; topped with eggs, sausage, cheese, and red bell pepper.


And in fact, I usually make a batch and make about 3 pizzas over the next 2 or 3 days. However I only ended up making one smaller pizza, and after the dough sat in the fridge about 4 days, I just decided to make a loaf out of it. I think most of the yeast was about poofed by then, but it still rose pretty well. Didn't taste so hot though.


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

The texture and puffiness of your pizza looks a lot like mine. I like a really puffy, light pizza with a crunchy bottom.