The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart's Master Formula

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balabusta's picture
balabusta

Reinhart's Master Formula

Today, I made Peter Reinhart's master formula whole wheat bread from his new book Whole Grain Breads.  According to the text, soakers "change the way the dough performs, usually sweetening it and creating a richer more golden crust."

Normally, I never add sweetner to my sourdough recipes. Interestingly, I see that most of the recipes in the book call for a whopping 2 - 3 Tablespoons of honey or agave nectar; sugar or brown sugar, so I wonder if that is the reason why the bread is sweetened ....

Diane

Upstate NY 

 

 

woefulbaker's picture
woefulbaker

I imagine that at least with some wholegrains, soaking overnight will coax enzymes (amylase especially) which help break down the flour starches into sugar.  Yeast will feast on much of this sugar as they grow, but the residual goes towards making a sweeter loaf.  Caramelisation of these sugars in the crust will give a richer colour.

All breads that use yeast as leavening depend on amylase activity, but I guess a soaker helps increase it.  The addition of sweeteners (honey etc) is a mystery to me but I think it's for additional taste.

This does make me curious.  It was my understanding that one should soak grains until they germinate/sprout before amylase activity can take effect (as with malting grains for brewing etc.)...is an overnight soak sufficient for this to occur? And what about soakers that involve boiling?   Would the heat not denature the enzymes?

 

 

 

swtgran's picture
swtgran

Woefulbaker, you have asked the exact same question I have wondered about.  After thinking about it, I decided since we bake the bread, doesn't that zap the enzymes anyway?  

I have read that even an over night soak starts the process but getting grains to sprouting stage increases the benefits.   

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

I have made sprouted grain bread twice so far and it is much more different than bread made with a soaker. Besides there not being any flour of course :)

Soaking various grains from 4-24 hours plus sprouting over 1-2 days in water is unlike any other. Now I have done a soaker using kefir instead of water and it was much better, both flavour and texture improved.

I'm wondering how spent grain performs as well. 

holds99's picture
holds99

Don't know much about enzymes but Wolfgang Puck, for one, adds a Tb. honey to his pizza dough.  May have something to do with the leavening agent getting a little extra boost from the honey/nectar/sugar and it likely adds some browning properties to the crust as in creme brulee.

HO

TRK's picture
TRK

I have mad a lot of Reinhart recipes, though I haven't made any from the whole grain book yet.  In my experience he likes his bread really sweet (I am thinking his Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire in particular).  I often halve the amount of sweetening in his recipes as a matter of course.

 

I used to believe that a little sweetener was necessary to get the yeast working (mostly because every bread recipe told me so).  I have since learned that added sugar is unnecessary.  The yeast can get what they need from breaking down starch.  So added sugar is there for flavor and possibly to help the crust brown.  If you think this bread is too sweet, I am sure it will rise just fine without the extra sweetening. 

rideold's picture
rideold

I've always assumed that the sweetener that it seems like every WW recipe calls for is for flavor as most people don't like the flavor of the WW by itself.  Kind of like sugar coated medicine.  I always leave it out unless I'm making something that is supposed to be sweet.  Then again I don't like sweet foods much anyway.  The more I work with just Flour/Water/Salt I find any sweetener masks the flavor of the grain in the end.

The USDA says the average American eats something like 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day.  With that in mind it makes sense why bread is sweetened.  I wonder about other countries and what the "normal" WW recipe tends to list for sweetener.  Is it just the US with the sweet tooth? 

balabusta's picture
balabusta

According to Reinhart, the purpose of the soaker is not to produce sprouts, but to hydrate the flour (either whole or milled grains)  and to "release flavor and introduce enzyme activity."  I never use sugar or sweetner in any of my recipes unless I am making a sweet dough or Anadama (for that I use molasses). 

In reply to a couple of comments: (1) My crusts get plenty brown, depending on many other factors.  (2) Yes, I do think many Americans have a sweet tooth, thanks to an addiction nurtured by the food industry. 

Today I made a quick French bread with a supreme thin, brown, crackling crust (baked in a Baparoma pan).  I brought a loaf to my daugher's house, and my 1 1/2 year old grandson, could not eat enough - crust and all.

I am going to make another whole grain bread tomorrow following the master forumula, this time without any sweetner, and I'll let you know how it turns out.  It is so freezing cold in Upstate New York that baking bread is the only thing I want to do right now.

 Diane 

FMM's picture
FMM

I've made a lot of the breads from Whole Grains and I usually write a comment in my book after I've made each loaf for the first time.  In relation to the sandwich loaves and struan breads in the book, I seem to consistently wirte "this is a touch too sweet".  I've noticed that the hearth breads call for much less sweetner (14g as opposed to 42g) so now I never add more than a teaspoon.  I like the colour it gives to the loaf but I've no doubt you could omit it altogether.

Fiona

bshuval's picture
bshuval

I, too, find the breads to be far too sweet. I simply omit the sweetener entirely, with no ill effects. (Except that the bread does not toast as nicely).  

My bread blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In preparing for a recipe, I've always like to work just a teaspoon or two of natural sweetner into my firm starter or cake yeast because it turns into liquid so quickly.  I don't exactly know how it does it, but give them just a few minutes the beasties stop holding hands (and grab for the food) easily blending them into other liquids.  A very practical reason for using just a little.

Mini O

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Some people drink an espresso with no sugar, but many people will put a small amount of sugar in an espresso to offset the bitter flavors, very reasonably from my point of view. A whole grain bread may also have some element of bitterness in it, especially if made mostly with certain hard red wheats from the USA. Adding a little sugar is a sensible way to soften the bitter flavors.

You can get some sweetness from soakers or mashes, or you can add some in the form of honey, sugar, malt syrup, or other sweeteners. I find a whole wheat bread made with hard red wheat usually is better with a small amount of added sweetness, but it's matter of taste.

I don't know if Americans particularly have a sweet tooth. Maybe some of them do, although some others are rabidly against sugar, from what I've seen. I've seen more of a reckless sweeth tooth in my friends from the UK or Australia, but then maybe it was just those particular people. Maybe it's just that I naturally attract the extreme Aussie and British sweet tooths for some reason. We love them for it, as they always bring my kids really good candy.

The WGB describes a range from hearth breads with little or no sugar added, to enriched breads that are generally sweeter. They represent different styles, and what's great is we can adjust them to our preferences.

One thing I will insist on. You must give me my cake with sugar. All cake made without sugar will be returned to sender. Candy, too. And cookies.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Bill, I'm one of the English sweet tooth types, but I drink my coffee black, no sugar, and I have always found American bread to be too sweet. I'm talking about the supermarket sliced plastic wrapped loaves, you know, the ones we used to buy before we knew better. Never could understand how you guys could eat bacon and eggs and pancakes and syrup all on the same plate. And I'm the one who eats Jello salad for dessert. Isn't it great that we are all so different? Some more so than others, of course... A.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

AnnieT,

Well, we are in agreement on those supermarket whole wheat sliced breads. Yes, they probably are too sweet, in addition to other shortcomings. Of course, why would we be here discussing this if we didn't prefer our homemade to the store bought?

Well, you are full of taste contradictions, but please don't interrogate me in return. I'm shockingly inconsistent in my preferences for food. Jello salad is a big Thanksgiving favorite of my mom's, so we may be in agreement once again on that odd choice, but for dessert? I'll have to think about it.

Those bacon, egg, pancake, and syrup breakfasts are wonderful if you're really, really hungry and you don't get a heart attack shortly afterward. Add some bland white toast with grape jelly to push it right off the cliff. I remember seeing those pancake houses about every few miles on my way down the highway in Virginia one year a while ago. I stopped a couple of times and almost didn't make it back home. I didn't have my Prevacid with me.

Bill

 

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Bill, can I edit my comments and say that I would eat Jello salad after the meat and veg - and BEFORE dessert. Never met a dessert I didn't like, preferably with icecream, A.

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

I want to know what Jello Salad actually consists of........Sounds interesting :)

 

 

woefulbaker's picture
woefulbaker

I think salad in the context of jello refers to ingredients set in a jelly...rather than something you toss with vinaigrette.  At least that's how I've heard it referred in the states....?

 

 

holds99's picture
holds99

TGB,

Oh Yeah, Jello "salad", almost forgot...well that "salad" thing is sort of a misnomer.  It's typically a Jello fruit salad, which consists of various fruits and nuts (optional), sometimes drained cans of fruit cocktail and other canned fruits or sometimes fresh fruit set in Jello.  It's the kind of dessert they used to serve in school cafeterias here in the states.  Kids really liked or at least they used to really like the Jello concoctions.  So, to call Jello salad a salad is, well, like calling a tomato a fruit, which technically it is but nobody over here (in the U.S.) is selling candied tomatoes on a stick...to compete with candied apples on a stick (like at the carnival).    Years ago there used to be a T.V. program, The Perry Como Show, on the air here in the states that was sponsored by Kraft Foods.  Kraft makes marshmellows, carmel candies, 1,000 kinds of cheese, mayonese, etc. you name it, Kraft makes it.  Invariably, each week, on the show, they would have a recipe using Jello.  They put fruit cocktail along with Kraft Miniture Marshmellows in Jello or Kraft Fudgies and miniture marshmellows in Jello and all kinds of Kraft products encapsulated in red, green, orange and yellow Jello for various holidays; Halloween, Christmas, etc.  Anyway, they actually published a cookbook with a lot of these recipes called (I think) The Kraft - Ed Hurlihee Cookbook.  So, now you know about the closely held secrets of American Haute Cuisine.  Whatever you do we must keep this information in strictest confidence and away from the Latvians or they'll use it to their advantage in the next World Cooking Olympics  (ONLY KIDDING, LATVIA, IF YOU'RE OUT THERE).

HO

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Jello is a brandname for instant flavored Gelatin in a sweetened granulated form (also containing salt and colorings)

I remember a recipe booklet called "The Joys of Jello" 

Mini O

balabusta's picture
balabusta

I baked my first bread disaster.  Last night, I made a soaker with rye, whole wheat, oats, and bran flakes.  I revived my SD starter.  In the morning, even though the temperature had been turned down to 62 degrees (brrrrrrr ), the soaker looked good, my starter had reached the top of my container.  I judiciously added flour (okay, bread flour), salt, and oil.  Now, here's where I made my Big Mistake.  I decided that since I bake the most divine French breads using my Baparoma pan (It's a slotted pan that fits on top of another shallow pan that contains very little water. There's  a domed lid to cover the dough) I would improvise.  My dough already had done its first rise in my warming drawer.  So, I shaped the dough into a ball. I poured a little bit of water in the bottom pan of my broiler pan, placed the dough on the slotted pan, and then covered the dough with my huge KA stainless steel bowl.  After 45 minutes my dough had risen respectably.  I put everything in my preheated 400 degree oven.  Well, the dough expanded, kicking up the KA bowl.  After 30 minutes, I removed the KA bowl.  The dough looked kind of interesting, but after another ten minutes, the internal temperature was maybe 100 degrees.  The inside was soggy.  Long story, short, I finally finished baking IT after an hour.  It has the most incredible sour taste. Lots of snow now,  but alas, no bread tonight.

 Diane 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Diane, I think you could still get it to work but pre-heat the lower pan and add boiling water to it just before putting the dough on top. kick up the oven temp and after 15 minutes, you could remove the lower pan so the loaf might get more bottom heat.

Mini O