The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Alternative flours

charlie-y's picture

Alternative flours

I recently bowed to temptation and began buying the non-standard Bob's Red Mill flours. I started out with just rye and semolina (I've only begun working with flour that isn't ordinary bread flour) and yesterday I just bought a package of barley and spelt, sorely tempted by the flax meal and amaranth. I'm not looking for recipes (although they are appreciated, of course), rather I'm curious about how each different type of grain affects the flavor. For example, I found that semolina makes for a wonderful crust, but too much and the crumb gets a bit blah. Likewise, good use of rye imparts a fantastic richness and deepness to the taste, but done poorly leaves an unpleasant "hole" in the flavor.

One I'm particularly interested in is tapioca. One of my friends used it to make some truly fantastic rolls (Fogo de Chao's recipe) and I'm quite interested--and intimidated--by the gooey texture.



Amba AAdya's picture
Amba AAdya

Hello, I'm new here. Just joined the forum, tho' I've been going through the posts for a couple of months.  This is such an awesome place to be and all of you are a inspiration.  Started baking about 6 months ago, like everyone else - had many a trial and error breads (housebricks!!), and suddenly had a breakthrough.  Now I get proper loaves.  I can't tell you how much all your posts have helped.  Thank You.  

Where I stay, we don't use rye so regularly, and I simple loved those dark artisan loaves you  have pictured here.  So I  decided to use a speciality grain that is the local staple.  It's called Ragi or Finger Millet in  English (nachani in Hindi).  Looks just like mustard  seeds except for an unmistakable  reddish tinge.  Don't be fooled by the size of the grain - it's a powerhouse of nutrition. It is available as Ragi flour and used regularly in porridges and fletbreads.  I'd read about some daring Iranian bakery in the north using this in bread and it is apparently quite a rage there.  

I gave it a shot yesterday and am thrilled to bits with the result..  Ragi makes the dough very sticky even at 50% hydration and I had to add another 1/2 cup of mixed (ragi and A P) flour to get the right consistency of dough. I left the entire dough out for an overnight ferment and in the morning did the deflete, shaping routine, shaped it into a boule  and baked it as usual in my convection oven. The texture of this bread was  amazing. It was incredibly soft though not so 'holey' - just like when we use any other wholegrain. It  came out just right and got eaten right away (before I could take any pics...sorry!).  I was thrilled to see another dark bread that was so wholesome and flavourful (ragi makes  a dark coloured  flour and  lends a beautiful   grayish brown color to any dish it is added to).  Just one more point to note before I give you the recipe.  As I was experimenting, I used only 3/4 cup of ragi flour mixed with A.P.Flour.  Feel free to experiment with more- maybe upto 50% of the dough.  I will too!!   


3 3/4 cup   A.P. Flour

3/4 cup      Ragi Flour

15 gms.    Butter

3 tsp.       Sugar

2 tsp.       Salt

1/3 tsp.    Instant yeast

2 Tblsp.    Skimmed milk pdr.

1 3/4 cup  Water

Seive the flours together and add the rest of the ingredients.  Knead until smooth and  place in an oiled  bowl, covered for an overnight  ferment.  (I left it out for about 10 hrs.).  The next morning, deflate and shape the  dough. As mentioned earlier, I made a Boule and placed it on a cookie sheet. Leave for a second rise for about 1 1/2 hrs.(depending on the local temp. you can vary this). Bake in preheated oven (mine was at 210 degrees) for about 30-40 minutes.


That's all for now. Will keep posting and look forward to all your results too.
















frangipani's picture

Hi, I just joined the forum recently, and found your post when looking for experiments using Ragi. I would like to try ragi, rajgira and jowar, bajra flours in my bread, and will try your recipe.

I just have a couple of questions - do you knead the dough fully as well as keep it out overnight? Or do you knead just enough to bring it all together and then leave it out overnight, like in the no-knead recipes? I am in Calcutta where it is quite hot and humid, in the 90s, and I am wondering if 10 hours will be too much.

Also, if you have made this recipe more recently, do post a picture if possible!

Finally, what is the skimmed milk powder for? I have seen a lot of Indian bread recipes include it, but am not sure what its purpose is, and if I have been missing something by not adding it.