From Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads (ISBN-13: 978-1580087599) I tried, for the second time, his transitional whole wheat loaf (an enriched sandwich-style loaf). Peter’s approach is aimed at taste, using a long cold pre-ferment and a soaker to maximize the flavor.
This second try I used a higher ratio of yogurt (Greek, no-fat, probably a little too dry for optimum) to milk for the soaker and added both flaxseed and sunflower seeds to the soaker. As a consequence the soaker was a bit dry and when I mixed the soaker and biga the dough seemed a bit dry so I didn’t add any more whole wheat flour as the recipe calls for. Mixing the soaker and biga is a hand job since the electric mixer has no chance of blending the two pre-doughs smoothly. Overall this loaf is a bit of work but the results are quite good, especially then toasting individual slices.
The idea behind “transitional” is to use mixture of white and whole wheat flour. For this recipe the biga is made with white bread flour and the soaker is made with the whole wheat flour. If additional flour is needed in final dough that will be whole wheat also. As a result the loaf is a bit more than 50% whole wheat. This results is a bit lighter taste and color, but a much better rise and crumb than the usually denser and soggier 100% whole wheat. The flavor, both due to the Reinhart technique and use of whole wheat is much better than any simple sandwich loaf.
Now the nutrition freaks are fanatical about whole wheat (or better yet whole grains), so of course this loaf is evil. But I’m not interested in their wacko theories. Their claims of weight loss on whole grain breads is due to just one factor – FILLER. Do they know/admit that whole wheat flour is about 85% the same as evil white flour? Well, sorry, it is. Whole wheat flour is basically white flour with filler. Of course in their dogma what I’m calling filler (the bran and the germ) is a magical substance to solve all nutrition issues. But again that’s not my concern. I actually prefer the taste of whole wheat bread – that’s why I’m trying to master it. And Peter’s techniques are aimed at flavor – Yes, I know, nutrition scolds, anything with flavor is unhealthy. But you’re wrong about calories (except due to whole wheat bread being less calories because it has inert filler). And you’re wrong that the effect of fiber, reducing the absorption rate in small intestines, helps weight loss/control. Sorry, 100 calories absorbed in 10 minutes or in two hours is still 100 calories. So in my weight loss efforts the only benefit is the 15% filler effect, which, could just as easily be accomplished by merely reducing volume of pure white bread by 15%. But I’m in this for the taste or I wouldn’t eat any bread at all if purely focused on weight loss.
And this loaf is quite tasty! The slow and cold ferment plus the soaker really do work (and add only a little complexity to the process). The nutrition scolds probably don’t do this since: a) it’s harder, b) you have to read culinary books, not just new age nutrition nonsense, and, c) good taste is not evil as you believe (of course, it’s true, that good tasting food is more tempting than the horrible tasting stuff from my nutrition freak sites).Peter Reinhart believes that good-for-you bread can also be good tasting bread and thus what you’d prefer.
But I actually meant to do the whole grain version this try but forgot and was partly done with the wrong recipe. Peter’s book is slightly confusing (to quickly reference, versus read through start to finish) because some of the instructions are shared between recipes and it’s easy to get confused. Now the nutrition fanatics would, of course, only love the whole grain version (naturally not the transitional version since again that has evil white flour), but I wanted it for the taste. The slight problem is there is an additional step (plus different recipe) and that is pre-cooking the whole grain (in my case I’d want to use farro instead of brown rice). Now the nutrition freaks would probably just toss the whole grain in uncooked and then be off to the dentist (what’s the homeopathic equivalent of a dentist?) for the broken tooth they got. No, you have to cook the whole grains, not just soak them. Now the rest of the recipe includes rough-ground cornmeal, flaxseed, oatmeal flakes and oatmeal bran, but the soaker process alone will handle the hydration and softening adequately.
I was actually just finishing up eating some of the frozen half loaf of Reinhart’s “broom bread” (the whole nine yards of maximum whole grains). It’s good, but tends to be a little dry, too dense and doesn’t toast very well. That’s why I wanted to go the transitional route. Plus broom bread is all milled whole grains and the additional of a cooked actual grain berry, plus some seeds, makes for a more fun texture. But that experiment will have to wait until this is gone.
Meanwhile I’ve got to figure out what to do with the rest of this loaf since it’s large, even if I weren’t restricting my consumption, and given it’s all “natural” it’s only good for a couple of days (wrapped loosely in cotton towels, left on counter; plastic wrap and/or refrigeration is not good). So my problem is that having bread that needs to be eaten (by someone) laying around is the temptation, esp. given I want to make another loaf ASAP.
In fact I’d be delighted to spend all day making as many loaves as my kitchen capacity can handle, but what would I do with the product. I couldn’t eat it all even if I weren’t on reduced consumption but now I really can’t do more than sample. I need some people to give it away to since I have excuse to make more.