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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lahey #5 - a 100% whole wheat bread (with wheat berries)

This is an experiment with Lahey's whole wheat bread, or Pane Integrale, as he calls it.  The recipe from his book 'my bread' makes a 25% whole wheat bread, but he suggests in his comments that people might like to try a 100% loaf to see what happens.  That's what I've done here.  There is no bread flour or all purpose flour in this experiment.

100% whole wheat experiment

Also, after experimenting with Reinhart's Struan, I've been thinking about incorporating more cooked whole grains in my loaves.  So I've also included a 1/4 cup of wheat berries, boiled for 90 minutes in 4 cups of water.  The resultant cooked berries are still intact, but soft.  They carry a fair bit of moisture, but probably no more chewiness.  I mixed them up with the batter, not adjusting Lahey's recipe in any other way (except of course, this loaf of mine has no bread flour, it is 100% whole wheat).

I fermented the dough about 12 1/2 hours.  It wasn't a sloppy dough.  It didn't form a gluten cloak when I was shaping it.  It seemed to be the typical whole wheat glop, pretty wet and loose.

I put it on the couche, then I realized that I hadn't put any bran underneath it.  So I tilted it on its edge a couple of times and tossed some underneath.  This extra bit of manhandling was going to cost me, I figured.  But the proofing stage pretty much took the fingerprints out of the loaf.  The wrapping of the couche around the dough stopped it from spreading sideways too much.  But the dough is kind of square at this point, and I have to put this square peg into a round hole, the crockpot.

Because it was a bit sloppy going into the deep crock pot, it made for a slightly uneven bake.  The loaf did not rise much in the oven, if at all.  I've come to expect these loaves to be denser than all purpose breads.

I baked this loaf side-by-side with another experimental loaf, the one where I built on a mistake.  While that loaf had an interesting burnt note to the taste, like a roasted nut, this bread is actually quite sweet.  The boiled grain is all but invisible in the crumb of the slice, but it adds a nice hint of sweetness that counters the slightly bitter aftertaste of the whole wheat flavour.  I was pleasantly surprised by this loaf.  I could have used even more boiled grain, even twice as much or more.  This loaf is excellent toasted and buttered with some cheese.

Notes to Myself:
  • You might like to try parboiling the whole grains, and then roasting them, before putting them into the loaf, for a different texture.  Or try cracking them open first before boiling, so they become slightly gelatinous when boiled down.
  • Again, try not to overcook these whole wheat loaves.  Try them once without the stage where you take the lid off for 30 minutes, so the crust doesn't get as crunchy.
  • Recently I was reading that Germans often put some spelt with their whole wheat bread recipes.  Try this, maybe the taste and texture are going to work for you.

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