The Fresh Loaf

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Whole grain flour suggestions to boost flavor?

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

Whole grain flour suggestions to boost flavor?

I have been baking sourdough loaves that are about 80-90% whole grain, using a combination of flours ordered directly from mills (Central Milling, Janie's Mill, Barton Springs Mill, Lindley Mills).  Flours include:

Turkey Red

Spelt

Sprouted wheat

White whole wheat

Type 110 (high extraction)

I feel like I'm doing well on the texture and crumb front, but I always feel like there's something missing when it comes to flavor.  I'm feeling like everything is a little bland or alike. Does anyone have suggestions for new types of flour to try?  I did experiment with Rouge de Bordeaux flour but it was too cinnamon-y for me. Thanks for any ideas!

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Might be a stupid idea, but how much salt are you using? I think it must be like with regular food - if you don't have enough salt, the flavour is "just missing something".

For whole grains, try adding a little whole rye :)

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

No, Ilya, not stupid!  I am using 25g of salt for 1000g flour.  That is plenty, right?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I don't have much experience with nearly all whole wheat bread, but otherwise 2.5% is on the high end of typical salt content, so that's unlikely to be the problem then. But you can always just try going higher :)

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I don't know why I feel the need to chime in... this comment will not add anything to the discussion. But I like salt.

I concur with Ilya. Salt plays a huge role in the flavor department. It doesn't create flavor, but it brings out flavors that already exist in the dough. I think the normal amount is 1.5%-2% baker's percentage. And I have played around with salt levels a bit and accidentally left salt out a few times. I usually shoot for 2% or slightly higher.

So yeah, if you are already at 2.5%. You should be fine.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Texas Dad, I hope you decide to try THIS SALT. It is a finishing salt and I sprinkle it judiciously on a slice. It doesn’t take much. A 20 oz container last me 9 months or so.

I am not recommending this be used n the dough. At least I haven’t tried it that way. $5.99 an ounce is pretty steep for that. Maybe one day I’ll splurg.

For the salt connoisseur this is divine...

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I have NEVER had truffles or truffle oil! I have always wanted to try truffles. Would that salt be a good first foray into truffle flavor?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

My dad always told me, “you have champagne taste with a kool aide pocket”. Actual truffles are probably out of my league. I can say that the salt has a unique flavor and is incredibly tasty.

andykg's picture
andykg

its normally around 10g of salt per 500g of flour when you look at most bread recipes.

Salt doesnt always taste the same either. Sea salt is sometimes milder in flavour than a table salt. 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

sea salt will have more volume than the heavier table salt.  Sea salt also contains more plastic. :(

SheGar's picture
SheGar

Salt would be my recommendation as well. Aim for 2-2.5% depending on what you are doing. 
Also, my sweet spot is between 40-60% whole grain flours and mixed with white. I find the white is like a canvas and brings out the flavour better than a higher precentage or full whole grain flour loaf. 
As for grains to try: Einkorn, Emmer

Another level (also quite the investment) is to fresh mill grains. I mill all my whole grain flours right before mixing. I would never go back to store bought whole grain flour.  

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

Hmm, I've only been baking for six months so haven't gotten to that point yet. But you may be pushing me in that direction, SheGar!  Can you describe the difference that makes?  Also: Is it that different than buying flour straight from a mill?

I'm trying to stick to at least 75% whole grains for health reasons. As someone with four stents in my arteries, I feel guilty eating white flour!  But you're right, I'd probably like the breads better with more of a balance.

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo
breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

...but my loaves generally include 35-40% of fresh milled grains. I'm especially partial to einkorn, though it is a bit more difficult to work with. If you have used spelt, then you will probably like khorasan (Kamut is the trade name). To get the most flavor from a grain, you will want to be sure to fully ferment it, this brings out a lot of flavor. 

Another "trick" for more flavor is to coat the peel with bran instead of a more neutral corn meal or semolina. Bran brings a lot of flavor to the loaf, sometimes even becoming the predominant flavor if it's overdone. It's convenient when you mill your own and bolt or sift out the larger bits, then you have lots jars full of bran. Daniel Leader has a recipe in his Local Breads book that coats the entire loaf with bran. If you have looked at Tartine, you'll have seen that Chad adds a small percentage of wheat germ, another source of flavor.

Good luck.

-Brad

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Flavor is usually developed from fermentation by products. You don't mention how you ferment. Do you use a straight-through process? Any autolyse or retarding? Any pre-fermentation used? There are several ways to develop those fermentation flavors-like fine wine.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

List of things I think help with flavor:

  • #1 get the salt right, as Ilya and SheGar already mentioned
  • #2 fermentation, as clazar123 mentioned
  • #2.5 basically the same as fermentation, but sourdough starters produce a lot of flavor
  • #3 Cook your dough longer, dough that is cooked longer tends to bring out more caramel flavors, the same loaf cooked longer can taste significantly more complex and different. Play with cooking longer both covered and uncovered, drier crumb tastes more complex too, so cooking longer isn't just about getting a darker crust, the crumb is just as important, finding the right balance between covered and uncovered baking is important.
  • Sometimes the problem is that your bread needs to be a symphony of flavors, so even though your flour produces 1 note of flavor complexity, you must take additional steps to add other notes to the dough. You need 3 or 4 notes to get that complexity you desire. Pick from many sources for those notes. #1, #2, and #3 is enough to create the symphony (the caramel from the longer bake, the slight tartness from the fermentation, the uniqueness of the whole grains, and the salt to pull all the flavors out).
  • Add things to the dough that compliment flavors like, sweetness (honey, sugar, molasses, malt, etc.), olive oil, toppings (rolled oats, bran, etc.), small chewy bits of things (seeds, etc.)
  • Mix flour types.

After doing #1, #2, and #3 properly you should be able to have super flavorful and complex dough with just one flour type. If the flavor is still missing something, either your tastebuds are shot because of Covid-19, you are doing something wrong, or you are not human ;-)

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

To answer the question about how long I ferment, etc - my latest loaf is over in the blog section: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66552/cracked-code-tartine-3-oat-porridge-bread

I like the idea of rolling the loaf in bran, and could also try a final proofing that's longer than 12 hours.  Lots of good ideas here.  Thanks!

 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I looked at your blog post you linked.

That recipe should have a lot of flavor. Do you have covid? Are you an alien? My apologies for my bad jokes.

The only suggestion of mine that still applies after reading over your blog post is that you might try baking longer.

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

Texasbakerdad, last time I checked I'm not an alien and I definitely don't have COVID, thank goodness!

I'm not saying that bread didn't have flavor, I guess I'm just aiming for something more in my breads. It's a never-ending quest I suppose. 

 

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Whole grain includes bran, having less flavor in my view.   


Try blending with other flours, so that the dough has less emphasis on whole grain.   You will indeed get more, or different, flavor.  Whether you like it or not is up to you.   

Bake one loaf with 50% white all purpose and 50% whole grain of your choice. 

What kind of flavor are you seeking?  Grain flavor?  The flour mix will help.  Otherwise you can add additions such as nuts, dried fruit or olives, or toppings such as oil, butter, honey, marmelade or Nutella.   Some of this has been mentioned. 

2.5% salt is plenty.  I like salt.  I aim for 2% salt. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What are you comparing your loaves to?  What thoughts are going through your head?  Is a particular memory involved?  Location?  Heritage?

 Just trying to narrow down the direction in which to experiment.  :)

While it is grand to have a bread that can be eaten just as it is, plain without anything on it,  it is also good to have a bread that holds a delicious topping.  Maybe you need to rethink, upgrade what is put on the bread?

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

Good question. I do have an idea in my head of breads I've had before but I have no idea when or where!  It's sort of a deep nutty flavor - whole grain-y but sweet, not at all bitter.  The Turkey Red and spelt flours do go in that direction, and I like those balanced out with a high-extraction flour to get a more open crumb.  I'm thinking I'll try 10% rye as an addition next.

And yes, toppings are important. I have a bit of an olive oil obsession (very expensive habit!) but also like bitter marmalade.  I'm vegan(ish) for heart health reasons, so real butter is out....sadly.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

into the recipe. Exchange 5% of the flour for rye, multiply the rye by 5 and add that much recipe water to it. Then nuke it several short zaps stirring between zaps until it thickens.  My trick is to put the microwave bowl with flour and water on a scale first, then thicken, weigh again and add back the needed water before cooling and using. 

Try a tangzhong with spelt flour, also 5% and see what it does.  If you have any dark crusts (baking loaves darker will also yield more flavour) from a recent bake not older than a day or two, toss them into the levain to soak and break up.  Or toast a slice and crumble into the levain.  You may need a spoon or two extra water to get the right dough consistency.

I have a short list of oils that I love to just pour into a saucer, sprinkle with salt and use as a dip.  Two of my favourites: Green pumpkin seed oil from the Steiermark and  a smooth nutty north Italian olive oil with hints of hazel nut. 

Sometimes when raking autumn leaves, I wonder if there is a flour that can make bread taste similar.  

chelseasf's picture
chelseasf

I'm intrigued by the tangzhong... will try it soon. Once I sort out my fermentation time issues. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I found that if I used too many types of flour, the flavors get diluted and confused.

I finally settled on 3:  Two types of whole grain, plus 10% white (refined) bread flour such as Gold Medal or KAF.

For the 90%  whole grain, I use a "majority" of one type, and a minority of another type.  My main one is usually hard white spring wheat (Prairie Gold), then either Kamut, or hard red winter/spring wheat, or whole rye for the minor one.

If I feel a need for a fourth flour, I limit it to 5% of total flour. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

The flavor of sourdough, and whole grain (40% or more)  sourdough especially, benefits from waiting a day before slicing open the loaf.

The flavor sweet spot for my 90% whole grain loaves (and I assume my particular formula/procedures/ingredients play a role too) is to wait 22 hours after removing it from the oven.

Unless I already have an "open" loaf on hand, I find it difficult to wait the 22 hours.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or old bread.  Not too old, a day or two is enough. Save the ends and/or a couple of slices from a prefious loaf. Freeze or dry and crumble into the next batch of dough a slice or two.  Can soften in liquids or levain before combining.  This can boost flavour especially if altus includes crust or is toasted.  

DoughKnob's picture
DoughKnob

Hard White wheat is quite mild in flavor.

You might try adding a little blackstrap molasses, about 1.5 T per loaf. It will add flavor without too much sweetness.

If using yeast, try cutting the amount in half, which will give you longer ferment times, or lowering the temperature, which will do the same thing.

I like a 50/50 blend of spelt and kamut (whole grain). They don't hold their shape very well, but given the structure of a pan, they rise well.

You will get maximum flavor differences with less blending.

If you bake a lot of bread, you might consider getting your own mill. Whole grains keep much longer than flour, so you can have a wide variety of grains available and still have fresh flour to work with.

Dan