Bread 4: Whole Wheat and 9-Grain Breads

2006-02-05

We finally got to make some whole-grain breads today. The class is becoming a model of efficiency as everyone is showing up early to scale ingredients and try to finish as fast as possible. I don't know if I've ever described how we scale in class but it usually goes something like this. Armed with a digital scale, stainless steel bowls, metal pie plates and ramekins, everyone mills around the back of the class jockeying for position. We transfer dry ingredients like flour and sugar out of very large bins with metal scoops and things in small quantities like salt and milk powder using bent, misshapen disposable ramekins. Messy ingredients, like shortening, are handled with small plastic bags over our hands and transferred to paper towels. Eggs come boxed in large cardboard trays; yeast comes in wrapped, refrigerated bricks; water comes out of the faucet.

Whole Wheat BreadOur recipe for “100%” whole wheat bread actually used whole wheat to white flour in a 5:1 ratio. To make up for the reduced protein content, we added vital wheat gluten, a protein extracted from flour. This serves as a gluten booster to help the loaves rise. We rested the dough a total of 30 minutes for the first fermentation, ten minutes longer than usual. After degassing, we shaped these loaves the same way as for butter crust bread, then placed them into loaf pans that were greased and dusted with bran.

9-Grain BreadFor the 9-grain bread, the recipe used strong bread flour and whole wheat flour in a 1:1 ratio. The 9-grain cereal contained a lot of goodness: wheat, rye, sunflower seeds, bran, flax, corn, oat, soy, millet, wheat germ and more. For shaping, we folded these as for baguettes, but rolled them shorter and tapered the ends. We egg washed before and after proofing, then slashed the tops. I tried to make the cuts less deep this time, and you can see from the photo that they turned out quite nicely.

We spent a lot of time standing around this class, due to the longer fermenting and proofing times. Only the recipes are different each time: the technique is becoming fairly routine. As for the all-important tasting, both kinds of loaves were soft, despite being whole-grain, but they weren't all that impressive.

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