The Fresh Loaf

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Reinhart's epoxy method from Whole Grain Breads -- some questions

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mlucas's picture

Reinhart's epoxy method from Whole Grain Breads -- some questions

I got Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads from the library and on the weekend tried my first recipe from it, the Transitional Multigrain Sandwich bread.

I doubled the recipe to make two loaves instead of one, except I did not double the yeast (left yeast amounts as is). In the biga I substituted 70g of active sourdough starter for 35g/35g flour/water, as I couldn't bear to make bread without my pet starter. (I also thought it would help make up for the lesser ratio of yeast.)

The smaller amount of yeast did not seem to hurt, the rising times were only slightly slower. The oven spring could have been a little better, but was still pretty good. (Lack of oven spring was probably due to slight overproofing, as they rose a lot quicker during proofing than I expected, and I didn't warm the oven up soon enough!)
The bread turned out delicious, sweet and flavorful, with a soft crumb. Definitely better than the sourdough-only multigrain bread I've made. I do have some concerns though:

1. As per the directions I separated the starter & biga into 12 portions each, and mixed them together with the additional dough ingredients. However I found it very difficult to get the pieces to blend together completely, and in the finished bread there are some noticeable white sections, portions of the biga that did not blend.
Since I doubled the recipe, should I have cut into smaller pieces (like 24 pieces each)?
Note I was hand mixing (by spoon, then kneading), which is totally fine according to the book.

2. Am I being silly not wanting to double the yeast? I've always felt intuitively that less commercial yeast results in a healthier product, and since I began sourdough baking I've read about the benefits of longer fermentation like lower glycemic index & more easily digested nutrients. However, perhaps the 24 hour fermentation of soaker & biga in Reinhart's method gives those benefits anyway? especially with my inclusion of sourdough in the biga. In which case the "boost" of yeast added 2 hours before baking (2.25 tsp in his one-loaf recipe), does not detrimentally affect the healthiness of the result?

Mike Lucas


Caltrain's picture

1. Go ahead and chop up the dough into as many pieces as you need, or, for that matter, as few as you'd like. It's probably more important to knead the dough longer. I personally just stack the starter on top of the biga, quarter the dough, then knead it until it's homogenized while maybe giving it a rest every few minutes.

2. No, far from it. What Reinhart says about prefermenting might be right, I've found that using 7+ grams of yeast gives the bread a yeasty taste unless it's covered up by oils and sweeteners. Using less yeast definitely won't hurt the bread.

mlucas's picture

Thanks! Reinhart's instructions make it sounds like the dough should be homogenized just by spoon mixing, and I was trying to keep the kneading to the minimum need. But next time I'll take your advice and knead longer, I think this particular bread may be improved by that anyway.

As for the yeast, thanks for the confirmation, I think I'll stick to my gut instinct to not double the yeast, though I may increase a tiny bit next time -- we'll see.