Peter Reinhart’s Transitional Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf

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.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
This entry was posted in comment, musing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Peter Reinhart’s Transitional Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf

  1. Gallivanta says:

    Sorry I am not closer by to help you out with eating your bread. I sometimes make two small loaves in the one loaf pan. When baked I pull the loaves apart and give one small loaf to a friend and keep one for myself. That way I don’t get bored eating the same loaf and can make something new and different within a day or two.

    • dmill96 says:

      Interesting idea and good tip. I suppose that would been like some composite dinner rolls, that just pull apart at the seam. If I cut the loaf in half the exposed end allows to make drying out, but your approach might solve that. Thanks for the idea and too bad I can’t ship you a few half loaves/

  2. w says:

    i know that dilemma 🙂 and im not even on any restricted diet (hats off to you for dieting). Give it away to unsuspecting folks. Since you say there isn’t good, proper bread to be had in your area, show them what’s real bread

    • dmill96 says:

      I actually checked with a few food bank operations and found they couldn’t take homemade products (out of fear of some tampering with it). I saw that students in French bread making classes form many loaves, EVERY MORNING, to finally learn how to do it right. I’ve found that practice, esp. in the forming part, is important. The ingredients for bread are fairly cheap, esp. when bought in bulk, so I could make as many loaves as I could get into a regular oven for practice, but then I’d need somewhere to send all that bread and that exceeds my immediate circle. So I was disappointed that there isn’t some public outlet where I could be doing my learning and contributing to others at the same time.

  3. Homemade bread spoils you for any other kind; I know. Sounds delicious.

    • dmill96 says:

      It certainly does! And Reinhart’s approach produces a bit better results with little extra work. I’m looking forward to when I try the whole grain version of this loaf, with some farro, oats, and cornmeal. I tried his “broom bread” and it was a little heavy, so I’m hopeful that loaf will finally hit it just right.

  4. Pingback: Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain transitional loaf | dailydouq

  5. Pingback: What is the point of blogging? | dailydouq

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s