The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Struan bread variations

bshuval's picture

Struan bread variations

Hi all,

 I am about to embark on making my very first Struan bread, for Peter Reinhart's new WGB. 

However, looking at the recipe, it has 3 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoons of oil and butter. That is a lot, in my opinion, and pretty rich. I would like to make a lighter version of this, using perhaps 1 tablespoon of honey and no oil. Since I  intend to make the soaker with yogurt, my gut feeling tells me that I should use the same baking temperatures as in the recipe. If it matters, for my multigrain blend, I want to use a blend of equal parts cooked brown rice, quinoa, and millet, and add about a tablespoon or so of flaxseeds. I am considering leaving some millet uncooked, but I have not decided yet. 

However, I am not sure about the effects of these modifications, nor whether I should modify my baking in any way. So, before I experiment, I wonder if I may learn from someone else's experience. Has anyone here tried to cut down the oil and/or sweetener in this bread (to what amounts?)? Was it a good or bad experience -- how did it affect the bread (loaf size, flavor, texture, etc.)? Did you adjust the baking temperatures? Are there grains that work better with my modifications than others? Do you have any other tips for these variations?

(By the way I looked in the book, and later on there is a hearth bread version of this bread, with the sweetener and fat being optional. However, that bread also does not call for soaking in milk/yogurt, and I intend to soak in yogurt).




sphealey's picture

If I could make a suggestion. Having read some of Reinhart's accounts of the receipe testing process, and Floyd's accounts of being a tester, it might be best if you made the struan per the recipe 2 or 3 times first then proceed to variations.

Reinhart's recipes in my experience are not hard to make if you follow the instructions and proportions exactly, but can also go wrong fairly easily (particularly on moisture levels which is directly affected by sugar percentage). Your long-term goal may be to lean out the struan, which is fine, but 3 tbs of honey will not result in a quickbread level of sugar in the finished product. Once you can make the standard consistently you can start the modification process to get to your final destination.

Just my 0.02.


umbreadman's picture

I've played with PR's struan formula a little bit here and there and I believe I've left out at least the oil, if not both oil and honey, on at least one occasion with great results, with no real change in baking method from what he gives. I think the amount of honey, like sph said above, isn't overwhelming at all and complements the hearty grains nicely. I've made it with yogurt as you will be, and it works just fine; the yogurt tenderizes some of the grains, making a very nice bread. my only other suggestion would be to soak your flaxseeds ahead of time (if you hadn't already thought of that...: \ )so they're not too hard, and go with what feels right/interesting. PR gives great instructions, and if you feel like maybe a little more sweetness or a softer, smoother texture would be desirable, next time add the extra honey or oil. the bread, most likely, won't kill you, so whatever you do should be fine, and hopefully, a learning experience.


bshuval's picture

Well, I've made the struan bread and I am quite happy with the result (pictured below). I cut the sweetener down to about 1 tablespoon (20 grams), and omitted the fat. For the soaker I used millet, brown rice, quinoa, and wheat berries, in equal quantities, that I cooked together in my rice cooker (which I use to cook all sorts of grains).

During mixing I found that I had to add a lot of additional flour (in addition to the 2oz Reinhart calls for), perhaps something like 3/4 cup to a cup of additional flour (I didn't measure). And this was in order to get a very soft dough. At some point I decided to stop adding flour, and decided to work with the wet dough. Have other people also encountered this need to add so much extra flour? (I suspect that part of the reason I had to add so much flour was that the cooked grains retained a lot of moisture).

As I said, at some point I decided I don't want to add any more flour to the dough, and decided to leave it as is. Kneading was difficult, this being a soft, wet, dough. I did try to knead it in various methods, but quickly realized this was futile. So, I let the dough autolyse for about 20 minutes. I then gave it a short knead and a couple of folds, let it rest a while longer, folded again, and let it ferment for another 45 minutes or so. The dough never quite passed the windowpane test, but it was close enough. 

After bulk fermentation was over, I gave the dough another fold, and shaped it into a pan loaf. This being a wet dough, and me not wanting to add any more flour, made this a bit difficult, but doable (I still have a lot to practice when it comes to shaping, especially wet doughs). I let the dough proof in the pan about 45 minutes, until it rose to 1.5 times its original size. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven. 

At 1.5 times the original size, the dough didn't quite reach the edge of the pan. Perhaps I should have let it proof for a bit longer (The finger test made an indentation that filled itself slowly), which is what I plan to do the next time. I slashed the bread on top, and put in the oven. I poured some water to create steam, and lowered the temperature to 350F. After a couple of minutes in the oven I spritzed with water, and after 20 minutes I turned the loaf 180 degrees. 20 minutes later I took the bread out of the pan, and baked it for 10 more minutes. 

The bread got a beautiful crust color, had good oven spring, as you can see by my slash spreading (although I wish I had gotten an ear there). The bread tastes great. It is nice and soft but not spongy like supermarket bread. It does make great toast. The crumb did turn out moister than I'd thought it would be. Is this bread supposed to have a moist crumb? I believe that maybe I got a moist crumb because the dough was so wet. Perhaps I should have baked it a while longer.

Anyhow, the bread is pictured below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments!

Struan bread from Reinhart's WGB, Dec 22, 2007Struan bread from Reinhart's WGB, Dec 22, 2007


umbreadman's picture

That looks great! If you're looking for more of an "ear" to your slash, I would suggest you slash the dough at an angle (about 30 deg. above horizontal) as opposed to perpendicular.

I also remember having to add a fair amount of flour, and i think you're right about the cooked grains retaining water, which would probably explain the moist crumb as well.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the rest of your struan


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

                                                                              (January 22, 2008)

and besides, I'm getting rusty. Bought myself some quinoa (virgin experience) and golden hirse, millet?  These were mentioned in the topic so here I am. My goal here is to make something eatable for my vegitarian co-ed niece. I am not yet aquainted with the Struan recipe but it looks good to me. I started out (don't ask me why I was up at 3am) with a rye sourdough (the starter was looking very happy and at it's peek, that's why) and added 300ml water & about 50g rye flour, followed by about 100g (dry) washed quinoa, then some bread spice, a tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 tsp instant yeast, about 2 Tbs instant mashed potatoes (to guarantee moisture in finished loaf), salt (because I didn't want to babysit it) and stirred all that together with spelt flour (type 700) to make a sloppy dough, covered it and went back to bed. At 5:30 I stirred a very active (trippled or more) dough to deflate it and crawled back in bed for another 45 min. What is Stuan?

Then I kneaded my dough with more spelt flour to stiffen up the dough and placed into a floured banneton to rise. I just turned on the oven (7am) and the dough is even with the edge of the basket. I also boiled up about half a cup of quinoa to have for breakfast, simmered 15 min. I also ordered a cookbook on quinoa and should be here in 3 days. I plan on testing a few recipes. 7:20am and in the 220°c oven covered with a SS bowl. The dough seemed too soft to slash so I didn't. Set timer for 15 min for removal of bowl.

Spelt, Quinoa, Rye loaf ready for the oven.

 6 liter and tall, wishful thinking...

 Was expecting more than 2 3/4 inches high...cracks me up!

Afterthought: maybe overproofed, wanted more oven spring.

Mini O