Monday, May 24, 2010

all whole wheat, all the time

100% whole wheat & standing tall - no squat, dense loaf here

The stars have aligned and I finally have 100% whole wheat sandwich bread recipe that I'm perfectly happy with. As you may know, make bread with 100% whole wheat is tricky because the bran interferes with gluten development. That means the bread often is dense and nasty. Most "whole wheat" bread recipes only use about 1/3 whole wheat, the rest white flour. But this 100% whole wheat bread is light and delicious. You won't feel like you are comprising at all. There are a couple tricks.

First, beat half of the flour with all of the liquid for a few minutes before adding the rest of the flour. This dramatically improves the gluten development. I first discovered this technique while watching my friend Megan make bread. I loved her bread and she gave me her Grandmother's recipe to try at home, but my version wasn't similar at all. So I watched her make it and there were all sorts of things in her method that didn't match the written recipe. Besides beating in half the flour, she added 4 more cups of flour than called for in the written recipe (it makes three loaves). She hadn't purposely written the recipe incorrectly. She just never got around to updating the recipe to match her real method; the written one was merely an outline to her real process. This could explain why so many recipes seem to be missing a secret ingredient.

Second, use vital wheat gluten to increase the gluten in the dough, improving the structure in the dough, helping the dough rise more. I've been slowly consuming my stash of VTG imported from the US. But Megan found an online source here in Switzerland. Of course, we had to buy it in bulk, but we split it with a few friends and the price with shipping worked out to about 15CHF/ kilo, a very decent price. It hasn't arrived yet, so hopefully we ordered what we thought we did.

Third, grind your own flour. This is not required; I've made most of my loaves with store-bought Volkornmehl and they are delicious. But I finally have a machine that will grind wheat and Megan found a farm in her neighborhood that sells their wheat berries for 1.70 CHF/kilo, a great price compared to wheat berries from the health food store which cost about 5CHF for 500gr. I brought home a 5kg bag, apparently very optimistic about my future bread baking. I think bread from freshly ground wheat does taste markedly better, as well as being much more nutritious (whole wheat flour degrades very quickly - some say it's only good for 24hrs after milling it).

I'm a sucker for cutely packaged food stuffs

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Adapted from Fanny Farmer's Baking Book by Marion Cunningham

Makes 2 loaves. This dough rises super fast, so watch it closely. If it rises too long, it will get too bubbly and the structure will be compromised. The dough may simply have lots of big air bubbles, or collapse on itself into a dense, gooey mess (I say this based on experience!).

1. Stir together in mixing bowl and let stand a minute to dissolve:
  • 3 cups warm water
  • ½ cup instant nonfat dry milk
  • 2 pkg yeast (4.5 tsp)
2. Add and beat vigourously for 2 full minutes:
  • 15oz (3 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 5 TB vital wheat gluten
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1.5 oz (3 TB) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) honey
3. Add as much of the remaining flour to make a manageable dough:
  • 17.25 to 22.25 oz (3.5 to 4.5 cups) whole wheat flour
4. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Knead another 6 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Put into greased bowl and let rise until double in bulk, about 45-60 mins.

5. Punch the dough down, cut in half, and form each half into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pans, cover lightly and let rise just above the top of the pans (not too high or the dough will get too much air and it will collapse - it has happened to me many times!), about 45 mins. Preheat oven to 375F(190C).

7. Bake in a preheated oven for about 35-40 mins. Internal temperature should be about 195F. Do not overbake or the bread will be dry. Remove from pans and cool on rack.

- Will make 24 rolls on sheet pan, bake 375F for 25 mins
- Instead of water and the powdered milk, you can simply use 3 cups milk. You can also just use water without the milk powder.
- You can substitute oil for the butter if you are avoiding dairy.
- You can replace about 1-2 cups of flour with various grains or other flours, like oatmeal, rye, spelt, amaranth, millet, flaxseed. I almost always add 1/2 cup ground flaxseed.
- You can add more honey for a sweeter bread. You may have to add a bit more flour to compensate for the extra liquid.


Alice said...

Someday I'll get to grinding my own wheat. I'll have to try this recipe...I do really love dense bread though:) I am stuck on my current bread recipe with the wheat germ/garbonazo bean flour and wheat bran that is added to the wheat flour. Let me know if you ever want me to send you gluten though. The wheat berries are cutely packaged. I'm a total sucker too!

Astrid said...

Wow. I want to try this recipe! (thanks for adding the 4 cups of flour back in... that seems like quite a large unknown in the equation!)
What machine do you use to grind up your wheat?
On another somewhat related subject, I'm completely fantasizing over getting a Thermomix. Have you ever heard of those? I think they can handle grinding wheat.

Julie Ramsay said...

I'm going to try it!

Jack said...

Fantastic! Thanks for outlining your steps...let me know how the wheat gluten works out...or, if you have some extra :) I will let you know how this went...btw, which grinder did you acquire?

Tanya D said...

I bought a Blendtec blender from my friend Jenna who moved back to the US. It's a fantastic blender (my soups are so amazingly smooth now!) and it certainly gets the job done with the wheat grinding, although it gets very very hot (does that hurt the wheat???). I'd prefer a real grinder, but that'll just have to sit on the list for awhile.

Jack - you're welcome to some wheat gluten anytime. Shall I mail you some or will you be at Helvetiaplatz market anytime soon? Send me a message on FB.

Astrid - I was drooling over the Thermomix for awhile, but now I want a Hobart, the machine of professional chefs. You'll see them all the time on that TV show Top Chef. I think they are magic.

I'm so curious to see if other people have the same results that I've had with this bread. Megan makes it all the time now and loves it. With all the bad 100% whole wheat bread I've made in the past, this recipe seems like magic to me.

P.S. I like magical stuff.

Jack said...

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks.. will let you know how my experiments with the gluten turn out...

Unknown said...

Hey I have been having some problems making bread perhaps you can help.

Also, your website seems so familiar, I was wondering if we've cooked together before. If I remember right it would have been a Pizza with Mozzerela in Strasbourg France. Am I correct?

Mary Shane said...

Oh my! That sound really yummy! I feel like pig-ing out today! Tanks for sharing this great recipe. i'd give it a shot for dinner. I hope my husband would love it! :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you Tanya! Jessi sent me your recipe and we love it! katrina

tanya said...

Thanks Katrina. It's always nice to share a favorite.

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