Back to Bread: This is a little better

I got a banneton for Christmas and made a quick stab at a boule with a forced rise recipe, but I wanted to try to do it right, plus maybe get the slashing better. So for the bread I decided to go with Peter Reinhart’s Transitional Whole Grain Hearth loaf which worked out just about right for quantity to fill my banneton. And here’s the result:


This time I got the slashing better so I didn’t get the cracking I got with my first try. I did get the attractive rings from the banneton that is the whole point of using it. This could still look better but this second try is definitely closer to what I’d like (and match the gorgeous pictures in books).

Given all the ragging I do on nutrition scolds you might wonder why I’d chose to go with whole grains (and btw, this is whole grains, not just whole wheat). Well, I like the taste and if I happen to get a healthier loaf (if someday there is science that actually proves this is healthier) then so much the better. Using whole grains, however, I think does somewhat reduce the attractiveness of the boule since it is fairly dark.

I went with “transitional” (the biga is made with white flour) because I want the gluten development. Oh, horrors, I’m going to die from the evil gluten, not to mention the evil white flour – this loaf is pure poison with its only redeeming feature being it’s not factory food. But if you can skip nonsense food fads for a while give the transitional idea a try, a nice compromise between good texture and heartier taste.

Well, scolds, guess what is in here? Yes there’s white flour, but also whole wheat flour. You might check the effect of pulverized bran, even after the Reinhart soaker approach, at the micro level, literally almost like ground glass and all those sharp edges cutting the gluten making for a dense crumb. So substituting white flour (yes it’s 85% identical to “whole” wheat) raises the gluten with less bran to cut its strands. The loaf is still cooling so I haven’t tested the crumb yet, but I know the Peter Reinhart transitional recipes produce a good hearty whole grain taste along with reasonable crumb.

And as to the rest: well, let’s see – rolled oats (ooh, awful, processing – well if you’d like to break some teeth use steel cut if you prefer), oat bran (well, at least it’s got the magic word and given it’s from Whole Foods it’s probably even organic, but unlikely to be local), and then rounded out with corn meal (I used an organic polenta to get a bit finer grind) and rye (who knows, maybe organic, I could care less). And seeds, lots of seeds – flax seeds (softened in the soaker), millet and sunflower (added to the final dough, not the soaker).

IOW, this loaf is chock full of the stuff that really constitutes whole grain breads (I’ve sometimes used farro too (or wild rice), which  I like, but that has to be pre-cooked and I didn’t have time the night I was prepping the dough).

I’ve always found blending the soaker and the biga to be the hardest part of making the dough. So this time I did it entirely by hand rather than use the KitchenAid, literally squeezing it through my fingers (after chopping each into small bits with my pastry blade). After I got a good blending I flattened the very sticky dough on my board and added the extra salt and yeast for the final dough, then did lots of hand kneading, working in more whole wheat flour to get the correct tackiness and moisture (I’ve done this recipe enough times I’m fairly sure what the dough should be like). Then its first rise, then slightly reforming it into a ball to fit the banneton and then its second rise. My new metal peel, again, proved much more successful at getting loaf onto the stone in my oven than my wooden peel (I didn’t even get cornmeal all over the place like the first try).

My oven is very well insulated, so Peter’s directions to preheat to 500F and then turn down to 450F left my oven hotter 450F, so I did 20 minutes baking, then 180º turn and then another 14 minutes (out of the recommended 20-25) and I had gotten to 196F so I pulled it out.

So now only one part of the process left – eating it! Can’t wait, but have about 30 minutes left of the cooling time, which, btw, I’ve proven by trial-and-error is very much needed, just as the bread books say.

So, despite having to refrain from eating much bread (after weight gain via MDS scare and Texas vacation) I’m bad to trying to improve my skills and I’m making some progress.


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.
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2 Responses to Back to Bread: This is a little better

  1. dmill96 says:

    I fear one of my ingredients is too old and a little rancid as the taste of this bread was off a bit, either that or too much rye (for my preferences). It was also a little flat but I’ve been thinking my yeast is getting a little old (got a large quantity, keep in the freezer). But also the next time I do this (after getting some fresh ingredients, the good thing about bread ingredients is they’re fairly cheap so throw out any suspicious ones and get fresh) I’ll try two things: a) add a little vital wheat gluten to push the crumb into a little less dense, and, b) increase the amount of biga by 50% so the dough quantity completely fills my banneton and makes a bit larger loaf,.

  2. A day in the life of a loaf says:


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