The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Max Bran bread

Precaud's picture

Max Bran bread

One of the posts that motivated me to join this group early this year was this one by troglodyte, Sourdough Bread for Bread Machines with Programmable Cycles

It wasn't so much the recipe, it was the principles/priorities by which (s)he arrived at it. Specifically, "This is a recipe of convenience... The benefit is consistent, tasty bread with a minimum of effort and time. It is sized to be suitable for a toaster or sandwiches." Very practical. What I call "daily bread". While I am experimenting and learning new techniques, I want something like this available every day.

Being "daily bread", it will most often get toasted and buttered, go well with soups and salads, and be a good receptacle for jams and the like. So this will be a pan loaf.

I have a couple more requirements. My metabolism and digestive system constantly remind me, they definitely prefer breads that are high in fiber. The more, the better. It also happens that my taste buds have always liked high-fiber grain products. I have pleasant memories of consuming massive quantities of Wheaties for breakfast as a child, with its unmistakable wheat-bran flavor. Our local coop sells bulk organic wheat bran for very reasonable $$$, so high bran content is on the priority list.

Another requirement is flexibility. I want something that can be prepared with equally-good results either in a competent bread machine, or made by hand and oven-baked.

I started with a recipe called "Double Bran" found in the Panasonic SD200 breadmaker manual. It's a pretty pedestrian recipe, with about 3/4 cup of wheat bran added to a 60/40 mix of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour for a 1.5 lb. loaf. It also had additives to make it "soft" which I'd rather not use.

This was a good starting point, with enough bran to appreciate it's contribution to taste and texture. It raised the question: How far can I take the bran content? How much of the total flour amount can be bran? The Max Bran project was underway.

Wheat bran is lightweight stuff, about 48 grams per cup by my measurement... about 1/3 the weight of wheat flours. So, despite the "Double Bran" moniker, adding 3/4 cup of it to over 3 cups of flour is quite minimal.

Over the following months, I gradually added bran while removing and rebalancing the flour and other ingredients. The dry milk and sugar were eliminated. I was experimenting with DIY "dough improver" (a small amount of gluten flour and Vit C powder) at the time, and I have continued to use it with this recipe, but it is optional. I started autolysing the flours, and then the bran as well, both of which significantly improved the flavor. This required a reduction in kneading time and an increase in mixing time to incorporate ingredients into the autolysed dough.

As of this writing I have made this bread 19 times, using 6 different bread machines, two different mixers and three different ovens. Although the oven-baked versions are slightly preferred, bread machines that mix ingredients well and bake at reasonable temperatures will produce excellent results.

Here are the recipes for roughly 1 and 1.5 pound loaves.

 Autolyse:                      1 lb           1.5 lb
                                     ------          --------
  All-Purp Flour             165g         200g
  Whole wheat Flour      83g         100g
  Wheat Bran                 83g         100g
  Bread Improver (opt)  1/4 tsp      1/3 tsp
  Water                          225mL       280mL

  Salt                             3/4 tsp        1 tsp
  Sunflower Oil             3/4 tbsp     1 tbsp
  SAF instant yeast       3/4 tsp        1 tsp    (adjust for altitude)
  Water                           20mL        20mL    (ditto)

Manual Process:
Combine the dry autolyse ingredients. Add the water and mix for an even distribution.
Form a ball, cover, and let sit for 30 min.
Tear the dough ball into 8-10 chunks to assist mixing. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
Knead for 5-7 minutes.
Cover and let rise at 79-85ºF 1.5 hours or until doubled.
Degass and shape into loaf pan. I used an 8.5" Calphalon pan for 1.5 lb.
Cover and proof for 50-60 min at 79-85ºF.
Bake at 375ºF for 45 min or until interior measures 200ºF.
For electric ovens with dominant top elements, cover loaf top with a foil tent after it has browned as desired.

Bread machines:
Bread machines that have programs easily adaptable to incorporating an autolyse cycle are in the minority. The ones that do will typically refer to a so-called "Rest" period near the start of the cycle. Units like the old Panasonic SD-BT65P (1.5 lb.) and SD-BT56P (1 lb.) have near-perfect programs for autolysing. They also bake at 340ºF in heavy cast breadpans, and they are my favorite choice for this bread.

For programmable machines, you can create a custom program with 5 min mix, 30 min rest, 7-10 min knead, 90 min rise, short stir/degass, 55 min rise, and 45-60 min bake. The bake length depends on the baking temperature of the machine, and the loaf size; longer time for larger loaf and/or lower temps. The Zojirushi dual paddle models and the old Breadman TR2200C are both versatile programmable machines, but their baking temps are on the low side (292ºF and 312ºF, respectively).

For most machines, you'll have to improvise autolyse using their Dough and Bake programs. Use the times given above a guide.
Mix the autolyse in Dough mode, and stop the machine when combining is done.
Let it sit for 30 minutes.
Add the other ingredients and start the Dough program again for the 2nd mix and kneading.
If the knead cycle is too long (most machines knead way too long for autolysed dough), shorten it by lifting the pan enough to disengage the paddle, let it sit that way for the remainder of the knead, then replace in on the spindle for the rest of the dough cycle.
Remove the dough and mixing paddle, degass as you prefer to, shape the dough back into the pan, proof until ready, and bake.
My favorite machines for this method are the T-fal PF311E51 aka 'ActiBread' and Cuisinart CBK200. They both bake at 388ºF, a very nice temp for this and other breads, and appreciably hotter than most machines. The attached pics are from a T-fal PF311 bake. Note the consistent browning over the entire loaf. Not many BM's can do that. (The Panasonics and T-fals do it best.)

Altitude Adjustments:
I live and bake high and dry at 7,000 feet, so if you're at or near sea level, chances are this recipe will create bran bricks. You will definitely need to increase yeast amount by 50% or more. Even more if using active dry yeast. You may not need to add any water in the second mix. And you might lower oven baking temps just a little. Water boils at 198ºF up here so I typically raise the baking temp to compensate.

If desired, bits of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or a little honey can be added during the knead. I added diced dried apricot bits a couple weeks ago and liked it a lot. But I mostly make it plain.

This has become one of my favorite breads... my "daily bread" with strong wheaty taste. I hope you enjoy it too.


jo_en's picture

The loaf looks perfect for lots of sandwiches and buttered toast.

Your inclusion of so much bran is something I've never tried.  

I will have to think about  this more- you warn of getting bricks at sea level!!

It is amazing the autolyse will transform all the fiber in your  bread. Amazing!

Thank you for sharing.



Precaud's picture

I'm pretty sure the yeast amount is the major factor. The bran doesn't weigh much so yeast action won't vary hugely from what you're accustomed to.

This has been a fun experiment. Looking forward to seeing how it comes out in your Zo. I have one but haven't used it for this.

Precaud's picture

I made a MaxBran loaf last night, mixed/kneaded in a KA Artisan with spiral hook, proofed in a Zojirushi BM "Rise1" cycle, and baked in a convection oven for 47 min and 375ºF. The Calphalon 8.5" pan was a little bit large (1.5L) for the dough size, but it always delivers consistent results with its nice, heavy steel construction.

Crumb is a littlle more open than the BM version, but taste and texture are the same - excellent.

Precaud's picture

I have become a big fan of baking with CLAS (Concentrated Lactic Acid Sourdough), and over the last few months have adapted the Max Bran recipe for it. It is now ready for prime time!

Several revisions have been made. The first version started with a scald of the bran, skipped the autolyse, and added 115g of CLAS (150% hydration). The result was fine but I felt the taste was not significantly improved over the CLAS-less version.

The next version used a 10-hour preferment of both flours with 75g CLAS and a pinch of yeast. Taste and texture were both improved.

I then tried a 10-hour preferment of the bran and whole wheat flour, with even less CLAS (64g). Even better!

I then reconsidered my preferment approach with CLAS, and realized that I was using too much of it and fermenting for too long at room temp. I tried a 3-hour preferment of the bran and WW flour at 85ºF with only 26g of CLAS, and added another 26g of it when mixing into the main dough. Another major improvement! Splitting up the CLAS and fermenting at 85º brings out a sweetness in the flavor that enhances the wheaty-bran taste. This has become my go-to recipe for this bread now.

Here are the recipes for roughly 1.5 and 2 pound loaves. Note that, by volume, bran is 50% of the flour content!

     3-hr Preferment @ 85º:   1.5 lb          2 lb
                                             -------         -------
      CLAS (150% hyd)            26g          33g
      Whole wheat Flour         110g         143g
      Wheat Bran                    100g         133g
      Bread Improver (opt)    1/6 tsp      1/4 tsp
      Water                             210g        270g
      Yeast (Instant)                0.2g         0.3g

    Dough = Preferment plus:
      All-purp Flour                205g         272g
      CLAS                              26g           33g
      Salt                             3/4 tsp         1 tsp
      Honey                          1 tbsp     1.25 tbsp
      Sunflower Oil               1 tbsp     1.25 tbsp
      SAF instant yeast       3/4 tsp         1 tsp    (adjust for altitude)
      Water                              65g           85g    (ditto)

The processes are pretty much the same as before, except the preferment replaces the autolyse, and there's no need to tear the preferment into chunks to aid mixing. Sea-level bakers will need to increase yeast in the dough by 50-75%.

If your bread machine ferments at 85º and is programmable and/or provides direct access to mixing and fermenting cycles (Zojirushi, Panasonic, maybe others), the 3-hour preferment can be done right in the machine. The rest of the process fits well into many Basic cycles; consult your machine's cycle timing chart. A cycle with 15 min or so mix/knead, 90 min 1st rise, and 50-55 min proof is about right. If your machine kneads for too long (many do), just lift the pan off of the spndle until it stops, then replace it. If it has a preheat period, use that as part of the preferment time, and add the dough ingredients at the end of the preheat.

Example: I baked this bread a couple days ago using an old (late-1980's) Panasonic SD-YD150. It is not programmable but its a great baker and its Basic cycle times are "in the ballpark". I used Basic Rapid to mix the preferment, then stopped the machine and moved the pan into a B&T proofer. The YD150 Basic program has a mandatory 50-min rest/preheat period at 85º, so the proofing in the B&T was only 2 hrs 10 min. Move the pan back to the YD150 and start the Basic cycle. Add the dough ingredients when it starts mixing/kneading. Leave the pan in the machine for an extra 5-6 min at the end for 200º internal temp (the old Panasonics continue to bake until you press stop).

The new Panasonics are top-notch bakers, but even the old ones do a great job of baking bread evenly and consistently, with excellent browning.

And the crumb is typical of CLAS and looks great too!

That's all for today.


jo_en's picture

Thank you for posting! 

I can't wait to try it.

It is neat to see all the bran you put it. Do you think if I collect up some siftings, I could use it for bran?

Great bake!

Precaud's picture

I look forward to seeing what you and the Zo do with it.

I've never sifted bran out before, but I can't think of a reason why siftings wouldn't work.

jo_en's picture

I liked the handling of this dough and the crumb too. This loaf ended at almost 209F.

I still have to get a loaf with your full portion of bran! Wow it was a lot that you got in.

I will start saving some from rye millings.  Thanks again for the method.

By the way, how did you get such a uniformly browned loaf?

Precaud's picture

Looks good! How long did you bake it for? I've never seen any temp that high inside. But it may be different at our altitude, water boils at ~200.

I will start saving some from rye millings.

Organic wheat bran is cheap around here;  $1.25/lb at the coop.

By the way, how did you get such a uniformly browned loaf?

1. Higher baking temps

2. Cast aluminum bread pan.

3. No radiation loss through a viewing window.

The bake pictured above was 50 minutes at 338ºF. The newer Panasonics do it even better.


jo_en's picture


I usually stop a bake when the bread bakes to the 204-208F range. (dough temp)

Am I wrong or missing something?

The bake is for 55 min with 10 min preheat. The max bake time for Zoji is 70 min.

Precaud's picture

No, you're not wrong. I think the difference is the effect of the altitude here. I'd have a burnt crust to see internal temps that high.

Are you pre-heating the baking pan, or just the Zo oven chamber?


jo_en's picture


I coat the bread surface with a mixture of milk pwder and milk.

I put the bread (in loaf pan) in the baking chamber and turn on the custom program= 10 min Preheat and then 70 min bake.

I do this thinking that the bread can go for another 10 min as part of final rise.

I check at 55 min into the bake.

Precaud's picture

With the Panasonics, you don't need to paint the crust for it to brown  :)