The Fresh Loaf

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My Second Attempt at Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Multigrain Struan

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bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

My Second Attempt at Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Multigrain Struan

How long ago was it?...

Oh, yes, I remember. I remember it well. Three months ago I happened upon Khalid's (mebake) multigrain struan on TFL---a bread loaf heavily enriched with grains and seeds, topped with a luscious field of poppy seeds. Tantalized by the thought of crafting such a fine loaf myself, I dove ahead, not knowing that I'd fail despite using the best ingredients that I could afford, despite my patience and greatest effort.

The crust, pale and feeble. The crumb, dense and damp. And the flavour, vile rancidity.

Deeply disheartened by my failed attempt, self-doubt plundered my body of motivation throughout the course of a week, bringing me to the brink of cease and desist. In other words, I wanted to quit baking. 

 

So, why didn't I quit baking? Well, on that bleak day, my heart became enlivened, resuscitated by a bolt of insight. My failed loaf incited so much distraught because of one reason: I was passionate about bread.

During the subsequent months, I progressively honed my bread baking skills by experimenting with sourdough starters, higher hydration dough, kneading, folding and shaping techniques, as well as steaming and baking methods---all learnt to one day confront and slay the recipe that nearly slaughtered my baking spirit.

With great honour, I now present to you my second attempt at Peter Reinhart's whole wheat multigrain struan. 

 

My second attempt deviated from the first attempt in many ways. Most notably, I substituted the biga with a whole wheat sourdough starter, retarded the bulk fermentation via refrigeration, and implemented the "Dutch oven method". Technically speaking, it was thick metal pot, not a Dutch oven.

 

In equal parts, this particular struan was packed---really packed---with pearl barley, buckwheat, quinoa, flax seeds, white sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. 

 


 

See? I wasn't kidding---it's packed! I admit, this wasn't intentional. In all likelihood, my darn-ol'-wonky mechanical kitchen scale displayed false readings. But hey, no harm done. As they say: more grain, less plain. (Okay, I just made up that phrase on spot.) 

The flavour: Cooled for nearly twenty hours, the tender yet firm crumb bursted with nuttiness in my mouth, followed by subtle notes of butteriness and bitterness (likely caused by the uncooked quinoa and buckwheat), finishing with a progressively sharp but mild tang. Approximately nine hours later, just after work, the flavours of the struan coalesced into a smooth symphony of taste notes. It was truly wonderful, minus my immediate craving for butter. 

Final comments:

Thank you Khalid for inspiring me to bake whole wheat / whole grain breads. Thank you Karin for helping me troubleshoot my failed struan. Thank you Mini Oven for your posts on how to create and maintain a sourdough starter. And lastly, thank you to the members of TFL who've taken their time to share their knowledge, wisdom, and passion with us. It is immensly appreciated.

:) Have a happy baking,

Zita 

P.S. Please feel free to critique my loaf. It will only lead to improvement---and who doesn't want that?

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Zita,

I can see the bread baking bug has taken hold of you and worked it's magic :-)

This loaf looks delicious and very healthy.  One my daughter would love as she likes her breads packed with goodies so that they are a meal with just a slice of cheese and some fruit.  Easy to eat on the run.

Thanks for the post and I enjoyed reading how this all finally came about.

Take Care,

Janet

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Yes, indeedy, the baking bug has a hold of me. Or is I holding onto it? Whatever the case, I'll continue to learn and bake 'til I'm satisfied. The best part is, I know I'll never be satisfied. There's just so many variables to bread that the possibilities are endless!

Wishing you the best,

Zita

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Healthy, chewy, nutty, seedy.  My only question Zita is - Was this bread boldly baked enough to produce that deep, dark brown tasty crust it should have?  Was it 205 F on the inside?  As time goes on and your baking skills improve, you will become more emboldened to bake to a darker color and as Anne Burrell says -  'Brown food tastes good!

Keep up the good work and bake on!

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Was this bread boldly baked enough to produce that deep, dark brown tasty crust it should have?

:P No, sir, it was not...

Next time I'll turn up the heat or bake the loaf just a lil' longer. Like you, I want that provocative thick, crackly, dark brown crust. 

Thanks for the (implicit) suggestions. I'll take it to heart and do my best to improve. :)

Zita 


dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

fine breads, there are many things going on at the same time and no time to think about them.  I'm guessing at this point you need, if you don't already have one, is  a good probe or instant read thermometer (much cheaper and just as good) to bake the inside to 205 F every time.

Usually if the inside is right the outside is as good as it can be.  You can always cover the bread with some aluminum foil if it is getting too dark before the inside is done.  You want to follow the recipe baking temp if your oven reads the right temperature -  which you should probably check with an oven thermometer to be sure.  Nothing is more frustrating than doing all the right things and then find out your oven wasn't reading the real temperature.

Things have to be pretty primitive where you are but it seems you are well on your way to some very fine bread indeed. 

I'm sure next time your next  bake will produce a loaf even more to your satisfaction.

My German baking apprentice doesn't even call me sir - she just growls at me :-)  You are a very polite young man, a good trait,  but calling me DA is just fine with me.

Bake on my friend!

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

In Cambodian, the word "dah" means grandfather. I have absolutely no problem with calling you DA, but let it be known that I associate such a name with "dah". :)

I've been searching for a water proof probe thermometer for over a month now and no such luck. Even a standard oven thermometer is difficult to spot (which explains why many restaurants in town serves either undercooked or overcooked meat). I highly suspect that my countertop oven is not well calibrated or accurate in temperature, but I can't say for certain. Nonetheless, I'll try to have an oven and probe thermometer delivered to me from abroad.... That may not happen until at least months from now.

Take care and best regards, 

Zita

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

counter top convection oven bakes way better bread than the big GE electic oven does.  It heats way faster, is accurate with temp readings and puts the best blister and cracked crust on bread hands down.  I use a cheap instant read thermometer for bread.  When the bread starts getting brown enough by eye I just stick it with the Instant Read to see it it si at 205 F.  They should have them at a restaurant supply store there.  The others might be harder to locate. 

I'm old enough to be a grandfather many times over but was 39 when we had our daughter who turned 21 this year - so I'm still *n years old - going on 39 :-)

isand66's picture
isand66

Way to go Zita!  It's such a nice feeling to make something you can be proud of and this one looks delicious.

Regards,
Ian

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you, Ian. It's certainly one of the best tasting loaves I've made to date. However, I know there's room for improvement. I assure you, my next attempt will be even more delicious. :)

Zita

Franko's picture
Franko

OK Zita you really have to reconsider your bakingbadly handle...like right now!

It's simply not what you're doing because this is a fine looking loaf. It reminds me of a Volkornbrot, but done as a boule. Hearty, healthy, packed with good things, perfect for a slice of sharp cheese or sausage, it says lots of flavour to me. This loaf proves you're baking with passion and honesty, the mark of any good baker that respects the craft, so your username is a grievous misnomer my friend. How about bakingwithpassion... a bit long perhaps, or maybe hearthandsoul...kinda corny I guess. My vote would be just Zita . Think about it, because I'm betting one your loaves will be up on the front page in the not too distant future and having bakingbadly attached to it will look sooo very wrong.

Nice work Zita, all the best.

Franko 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

:) Thank you for the high compliments, Franko. You have me grinning like the the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland.

Some may perceive my username as a misnomer, while others may think I'm harsh and self-critical. But, hey, I take it with a mix of light humour and solemness. Baking badly isn't necessarly a bad thing. Baking badly is why I've improved so much. Success seems to follow a slew of failures and I think that to reach perfection---and I don't think universal perfection exists---one must commit as many errors as possible, exploring the endless possibilities that a loaf of bread could be. 

My baking creed: make mistakes; learn from them; apply the lessons learnt; repeat. 

Cheers,

Zita

Mebake's picture
Mebake

I haven't seen your 1st attempt, Zita, so excuse me for not properly assesing your progress here. However, your 2 take on struan looks very promising. Furthermore, your determination to take on such a demanding recipe is also very admirable.

I have several advices for you on improving your results, if you don't mind :) 

- It would be better for you to adhere to the recipe's ingredients and procedure, and start deviating only when you have perfected the original recipe. Bulk fetmentation, for instance will only degrade your dough quality, as both biga and soaker did their job to develop flavor, and any further retardation, will only result in an overfermented dough, that is past it's ripeness. Remember, that your biga constitutes 50% of prefermented flour.

- Kneading the final dough well, and developing gluten structure is paramount in this recipe, as bran in ww, and grains pinch holes in the dough structure , and a coherently structured dough holds its self better against such odds. It is noteworthy to say that the final dough wouldn't be smooth and silky no matter how long or hard you knead, so aim for a supple and coherent dough that is tacky to the touch, yet does not readily stick to your hands.

- As mentioned above, and aside from insuring the vitality of your strater, final doughs in Peter's WGB should not be retarded, or else you'd end up with a dough of inferior quality. Biga, however, could be retarded after it has ripened (should be deflated and rounded) for upto 3 days, this gives you the convenience you seek. Once the final dough is mixed, instant yeast is added and there is no way to slow things down then, you'll have to watch your dough closely as it ferments FAST.

- I recommend a panned bake for this particular recipe, as it is a Weak, relatively sticky dough that would benefit from a pan to assist in giving it some form.

- Lastly, a diamond scoring pattern as used above is not ideal for this type of bread, as it encourages horizontal dough expansion, which is what you'd want to avoid if you don't want a frisbee shaped loaf.

Finally, i eagerly await your 3 rd attempt at this recipe. I'm glad that you have persevered and attempted again at this fairly tricky recipe.

All the best to you, zita!

Khalid

 

 

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Thank you for your advice and suggestions, Khalid! Much of what you wrote answers several of the questions I had in mind. For instance, the density of the crumb may be caused by retarding bulk fermentation. I can imagine that the enzymes residing in the grains and flour were active and prolonging the fermentation period would lead to severe gluten degradation. As you've mentioned, the inclusion of grains and bran doesn't help this matter.

I cannot find any suitable bread pans in my area---very difficult to come by---but I'll do my best to seek one out. However, it may not be necessary for the dough I prepared. I chose not to pre-soak my grain mix, knowing that it'd lead to lower hydration and therefore better handling attributes of the dough.

Additionally, preparing a boule, scored with a diamond pattern, was not intentional. My original plan was to shape the dough into a batard and score it lengthwise, with a single stroke. However, my "Dutch oven" (i.e., thick metal pot) could not accomodate all of the dough unless it was shaped as a boule. In the end, I was curious and decided to slash a diamond pattern. (I didn't expect the dough to expand horizontally, at least not to the degree I witnessed. Very enlightening.)

I'm currently working on my baking blog and will post my struan recipe this Sunday. If you're interested, I'll refer you to the post and you can review my techniques and methods. Perhaps you can offer further critique thereafter

Again, thank you for your helpful comments. You will always have my gratitude. :)

Zita 

varda's picture
varda

You have certainly made a lovely, nutty bread.   Congratulations.   But even more I love your dramatic exposition.   You capture the despair and the glory and the joy of making bread.    Bravo! -Varda

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

:) Glad to read that you enjoyed my "literary piece".

Indeed, bread baking can be emotionally provokative and only bakers such as ourselves can empathize.

Happy baking, 

Zita

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Zita, I'm very happy that you didn't let that self-doubt detain you from giving this nice bread another try. And if it isn't perfect, yet, try it again, so that it gets the nice brown crust (and get a new scale!)

But, Khalid, please reconsider your verdict never to bulk retard - I bulk retard ALL my final doughs, if they contain some small amount of commercial yeast, like Peter Reinhart's whole grain breads, and have great results! I never experienced a weakening of the gluten structure!

I do not believe that the dense, vollkornbrot-like crumb of Zita's struan was a result of the bulk fermentation, but has something to do with adding grains and seeds in a higher ratio than the recipe calls for - Zita mentioned that his scale didn't work properly, and that his loaf was "really packed" with seeds.

Karin

 

 

isand66's picture
isand66

I have to agree with Karin on the bulk retarding as I do the same for all of my breads with or without yeas, sourdough, etc.  I have baked many a multi-grain bread with similar ingredients and with the exception of a few squirrel food loaves they have all came out as desired.  I take my basic baking method from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday and incorporate some of my own methods.

Ian

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I will tag on my 2 cents worth too.  I bulk ferment all of my loaves and have since learning how to do it.  I use freshly ground whole grains with sourdoughs.  Sometimes I use IY if the dough contains a lot of sugar, cinnamon or nuts but then it is only at .08% of the total flour.  I put just about anything in my loaves.  

Yours looks fine to me for one containing so many extra grains.  I would expect a nice dense loaf.  I use whole grains in order to get loaves like these that I feel are a good meal by themselves with a slice of cheese and some fruit.  Real food :-)

Take Care,

Janet

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Without you and your encouragement, I wouldn't have reattempted the struan. Seriously, I owe you much thanks!

And very good news! My uncle from Australia unexpectedly came by to visit and guess what he brought me? A new digital scale!!! I cannot describe how overjoyed I was. Now that I'm in possession of a more reliable scale, I feel the consistency and quality of my breads will sharply improve.

Zita

Mebake's picture
Mebake

@ Karin, Ian, and Janet: really? I 'd imagine that 2.25 tsp instant yeast in the final dough ferments it way too fast, that any retardation seems to be futile. I haven't tried reducing final dough yeast, or SD, so i can't advocate to the contrary. Purely out of scheduling needs, i bake off my WGB recipes without bulk fermentation. It Makes sense to me, that an overnight biga and soaker could undergoe final fermentation in a fridge, however, a previously retarded biga that recieves a final fermentation in the fridge is an entirely different story.

I'm happy that there are diverse, and convenient ways to achieving great breads. Thanks!

Khalid

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Khalid,

Like Karin I adjust IY if I use it at all.  If the breads have a lot of enrichments - like the holiday breads I am baking now, I do use IY in the amount of .08% -.16% per total flour content.  Otherwise I simply use my wild yeast.  I generally only use 15% pre-fermented flour since my grains are freshly ground and at Peter Reinhart's % they would overferment.  (I learned my current method by following txfarmer's 100% ww sourdough recipes that she has posted here.  Worked great on the ones she posted so I began coverting all of my recipes to that % and it has worked great :-)

Take Care,

Janet

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Khalid, I reduce the amount of instant yeast in the final dough. Peter Reinhart has 2 2/4 teaspoons (7 g), but I found that the yeast can be reduced safely to 5 g even if you don't bulk ferment.

My main reason for trying the overnight bulk fermentation was the same as yours for not doing it - it fits better in my schedule. I sell my breads, the store wants them by noon time, and this way I don't have to get up at 3 a.m.

When I was first wondering whether I could do that, I asked Peter Reinhart (who was the Expert of the Week in "Fine Cooking" at that time) about it. He wasn't sure but said I should try, his main concern was whether a sourdough might get too sour, not overproofing.

Meanwhile, if I bulk ferment, I reduce the yeast even a bit more, to 4 g.

Karin

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Like Karin, I would only let it bake longer to toast the outside seeds and crust for more "browned" flavour.  Don't be afraid to add another 10 or 15 minutes to the baking time or up the oven temperature a little bit.  

Certainly headed in the right direction with this loaf!

Mini