The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Update & Question

Newbie23's picture

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Update & Question

I just posted this under Replies (to my own previous post) & then wondered if I should’ve created a brand new post since I have questions. Sorry for the repetition and confusion!

I made the 100% whole wheat sandwich bread (Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads) with buttermilk in my soaker versus the regular milk I used previously & was MUCH more pleased with the taste. The texture was good as before but the taste was a tiny bit sour & much more flavorful, in my opinion. Yay!!!

I’m actually satisfied enough to stop here & do the same thing again, BUT I want to experiment with sourdough starter. So I’m a week into making a whole wheat starter using the pineapple method. I have 2 questions:

(1) I’m planning to try the same Master Recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread but with the starter I’m making instead of the biga I used before. In “Whole Grain Breads,” the soaker recipe mentions using buttermilk instead of milk IF using a biga instead of a wild yeast starter. Since I was so pleased with the buttermilk switch before, I’d like to try buttermilk in the soaker to go with the starter. I know I can do this & see how it goes etc & go back to regular milk later if I don’t like it, BUT I’d love to save myself that step if someone else’s experience can help me. :) Will buttermilk plus a starter make a really sour bread or is it worth a try just to see on my part? I realize this is kind of a lazy approach but I’d love input if anyone has it. Thanks! :)

(2) I’m about to move on to phase 4 of the pineapple juice method in making a whole wheat starter; it’s actually day 8 for me. Phase 3 said to wait another day or two if it isn’t “very bubbly & expanded.” It’s definitely bubbly—little tiny bubbles throughout—but it hasn’t grown/expanded at all. I’m planning to move to phase 4 anyway; I’ve looked for pH paper in the drug store but can’t find it so I just ordered some from Amazon & it’ll arrive in a couple days. I just wanted to share my experience to see if anyone has input about it. Thanks!

trailrunner's picture

Both with a levain made with sourdough starter and with a levain made with my yeast water starter. I never make sour flavored breads as we don’t like them . The buttermilk gives a lovely tender crust and crumb and no discernible sour. Fermentation times and temps can create more sour if that’s what you are after more so than the buttermilk itself. 

You can add honey to any bread formula as well to add a subtle sweetness to the bread. 

For your future explorations in bread making here’s a rule of thumb that I have had great experience with and others who have tried it have agreed. 

For each 1000g of flour you can safely use equal parts buttermilk/ olive oil/ honey and subtract their volume from the called for liquid in the bread formula. I have used as much as 45 g each so 135 g of additions in place of called for liquid. It makes an amazing crumb crust and most of all flavor! 

These are added as you would add your liquid . Again the sour is more from time and temp related fermentation than it is the buttermilk. c