The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Farrah wheat as opposed to the moden high yield wheat?

William H's picture
William H

Farrah wheat as opposed to the moden high yield wheat?

 As with many of the forum members, I have been trying to bake a flavoured white bread like we used to get back in the late 1950's here in Australia. I have used a wood fired oven, wheat from both Russia & South Africa, while there are variations of flavour & in the case of the Russian wheat, a greyer colour of the dough. None of this produces that wonderful flavout that was once the norm in those days.Truly the old days were much better, when it came to bread flavour!

 Various yeasts have not in the least had much effect at all.

I have drawn the conclusion over the last fourty years, that it is this modern High yield Hybrid wheat that the farmers grow these days!! I can see why this so, when the yield per acre is as much as ten to fifteen times that of the Farrah wheat (Australian rust resistant wheat, grown up until around the mid to late 1960's here in Australia) & I dare say that similar high yield wheat is grown around the world?

 This wheat when bleached as it is, does not stand up to this chemical change as did the older style wheats.

 It is a waste of time getting unbleached flour as it is from the same High Yield wheat stock!!(although it is a little better!)

After all the production industrial bakeries?? Only care about the number of loaves that they produce to meet the demand from the Supermarkets of today,they do not in the least care if bread tasts like bread should, after all most people have never tasted "Real Bread" in their lives????Only that expanded cardboard STUFF THAT RETAILS AS BREAD!!!!????

 I am well aware that the specialty bakeries do a fair loaf from this wheat as do I myself, however I cannot get anywhere near what was once the flavour of "REAL BREAD" It was once that one could smell the bread baking from some miles away from the local bakery, not so today!!!

  Cheers Bill. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Now that you got that out of your system, have you tried fermenting your dough differently?  Fermenting part of it overnight or doing a slow fermentation in the refrigerator?  Poolish?   Or have you thought about adding more to your bread than just wheat flour?  Have you tried sourdough yet?  Or adding a cooked potato along with the water to your wheat bread.  This is a great bread improver done for centuries.  

There are ways to coax flavour out of the flour with longer fermentation (less yeast) and adding back some of the sifted out bran back into the dough.  Maybe the loaf you remember had a small quantity of honey or palm sugar in it.  Coconut oil to grease the pans?  or Coconut milk in the recipe?  Even the flavour of wheat can vary from year to year.  Fifty years ago the sun's rays reached the earth's surface with much more intensity than they do presently due to global dimming.  Maybe that is your missing piece to your favorite flour flavour, less sunshine.

Meanwhile... see what you can do with the flour you have, let it teach you.  Play around and experiment with it and go where you think no baker has gone before.  :)

Yerffej's picture

Good advice from Mini (as usual) but I believe that you are quite correct about modern wheat and its proximity to Frankenfood.  Is there anyone growing the wheat you used to have before 1960?  Here in the states I can get Turkey Red Wheat, the very same hard Winter wheat brought to this country in the late 1800's.  Also there is spelt and other older types of grain that have not been so heavily subjected to intense engineering all in the name of more money.

Mini is right (Mini is always right) about the use of long fermentation such as a poolish or sourdough to greatly improve the quality of any bread.  Pre 1960, most bread was created over two long shifts not in the blink of an eye such as is done in modern bakeries.  This made a bread that was superior in both flavor and health benefits. Look around and see if their are any older wheat types available, their flavor is incredible as compared to the mass produced wheat of today.

Happy Baking,


Nickisafoodie's picture

After the above suggestions, you may want to consider buying a high impact mill and grinding your own, it will take your bread to another level.  But the advice above should be implemented first re slow fermentation and will bring a quantum leap.  You may be happy at that stage or you may then wish to consider milling.  

suave's picture

The hard truth is that the first thing to suspect is always own skill.

Kalfooza's picture

William, I think you have a very good point. I've seen a patch of different types of wheat from different decades 1950s - 2000s and I couldn't believe how much it "grew" in size.

The modification that it went through is something I really don't approve and I'd like to get a hold of wheat as old as possible, even if it means I need 10x more space and 10x more work. 

I believe that is must alter the taste. Is this Farrah Wheat still available, or did it die out with high yield stuff taking over?

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I guess we can be grateful that we have the luxury of thinking that we'd rather have "old style" wheat even if it takes 10x the energy and 10x the space to grow ... it means we've literally forgotten what famine is like.