How to subsitute for wheat germ in a recipe?
I am new to bread baking and am attempting my second basic wheat bread. The recipe I'm following (cooks illustrated whole wheat sandwich bread) uses a soaker for the whole wheat portion of the recipe. The ingredients for the soaker are as follows: 3 cups (16.5 oz) whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 2 cups whole milk.
I don't have any wheat germ and I'm not sure I am ready to buy it as I have a small very full kitchen and don't want to add more things if I can help it. What is the best way to substitute for it in the recipe? An equal weight of sifted (to remove the bran) whole wheat flour? What will I be losing from the final bread if I don't include the germ? The only note they gave on it was that it improved the flavor. I obviously don't want the bread to be bad! So I can buy the germ if I need to...but I thought maybe it wasn't strictly necessary.
Thank you so much in advance for anyone who can give me advice!