All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Everyday Bread #57 - Wolter and Teubner's Wheat Germ Loaf

Wolter & Teubner's Wheat Germ Loaf

This is another simple and straightforward whole wheat bread, made in what is basically one build.  Like yesterday's Grant Loaf (Ballymaloe Brown Bread, or Myrtle Allen's Brown Bread) (well, like many breads, actually), it uses some sugary substance to get the yeast active, and then that mixture is used to hydrate the flour.  In this case, it is used to hydrate only half of the flour, and when it has achieved some measure of success in raising that, the yeast-flour mixture is then used to hydrate the remaining flour, this time not only with the moist yeastflour mix, but also with the fats of the wheat germ and extra oil.  So there are what appear to be several builds, but they are quick and it is all done at once.  2 loaves are finished in less than 4 hours.  Then all that remains is writing about it.

The picture of the loaf in Wolter & Teubner's book looks intriguing to me, and I wondered if I could duplicate it.  Perhaps the wheat germ gives the loaf its interesting texture, I thought; or perhaps it is the brushing on of water just before the bake.

Whatever it is, I was unable to achieve the look of their loaf on my first try.  But I made several mistakes or departures from their recipe, which might have a cumulative effect.

Mis en place

  • 1/3 c honey (100g)
  • 3 c + 2 TBSP warm water 115degrees 750 ml (673 g)
  • 4 pks Active Dry Yeast or 10 g Instant Dry Yeast (about 2 tsp)
  • 6 c whole wheat flour (900g)
  • 2 tsp salt ( 6 g kosher)
  • 3 TBSP oil (40 g)
  • 1 c wheat germ (150 g) - I used wheat germ flakes, so I needed ~ 1 1/2 c for 150 g)
  • (more flour or water)


  • Stir the honey, yeast and water and let stand 5 minutes; (Wolter & Teubner tell you to start with only 1 TBSP of the honey, and add the rest of the honey in when you add the oil, but I somehow overlooked this.)
  • Stir gently again to hydrate all the yeast.
  • Start with 1/2 of the flour (450 g) and all the salt in a large bowl.
  • Wolter & Teubner tell you to "beat" into the flour mixture the honey yeast mixture; but if you make a divot in the flour you can stir the flour into it with one finger as you pour, a little bit at a time, so there is no need to "beat" anything, just pour and stir the flour together a little bit at a time so there are no lumps to beat.
  • Cover and rise 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining flour and wheat germ and oil (er, and the rest of the honey).
  • Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.
  • Add more flour if the dough is too wet.
  • Cover, let stand 30 minutes.
  • Grease a baking sheet.
  • Knead the risen dough again well.
  • Shape into 2 boules and place them on the greased baking sheet.
  • Stand 15 minutes, covered.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Score a cross in the top of each boule
  • Brush the tops with water and sprinkle a little flour on top.
  • Bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees F.


My water wasn't as hot as 115 degrees, I think, though I didn't measure it.  It was merely warm, not hot to the touch.  And I think it will have a big effect on this loaf, which requires the yeast to be fully active to achieve the times that Wolter & Teubner suggest.  And I messed up on when the honey was to be added, so perhaps my yeast were fat and sated and lazy when they were supposed to be able to be in fighting form to go to work on the remainder of the flour and wheat germ.  I didn't see the amazing bloom of yeast that happened the other day when mixing up the Myrtle Allen Brown Bread.

I could only stir it up so much, then I had to turn it out of the container to knead
For the first kneading I only did it enough to mix the dough thoroughly.  It was very sticky.
Wolter & Teubner give no real idea of how much these preferments are supposed to rise.  But the first hydrating of the flour rose well in the first 30 minutes, and I was pleased to note that the mixture still felt warm to the touch.  I mixed up the rest of the flour and oil as well as I could with a spoon, and then poured it out on a counter to knead.

At the first kneading, the dough is very sticky.  The floured surface that Wolter & Teubner advises was in my mind not a good idea, as it means kneading until you incorporate all of the extra flour that the dough will pick up.  I kept a bowl of water nearby for my hands, as the dough sticks to them too.  I had the opinion, after kneading for just a short time, that this  dough would never become smooth and elastic.  I settled for completely mixed.  In the process I guess I kneaded for only about 5 minutes.  But it was at the precise same 5 minutes that I was kneading that my wife woke up and started straightening things and telling me I had to take out the garbage, the cat came in and demanded to be let out again because he wasn't being fed and the dog was underfoot awaiting breakfast, and I had my hands too full of dough to be of any use to any of them.  So I was distracted during this time-critical stage.  And so the dough suffered.  I should have kneaded more, I know it. 

Bread is life, but life sometimes life seems to interfere with breadmaking.  Not all kneading is stress relieving fun.  It can be, if you are alone with the dough.  But how often does that actually happen?

The dough rose well and doubled or more in about 30 minutes
The dough rose nicely, however.  I had already determined that I was not going to knead the dough again, despite what the recipe called for: instead, I would do an envelope fold and form a boule that way. 

After 15 minutes, the boules were sagging a bit and had bumped up against each other. I scored them, and with one I followed the instructions and brushed it with water; the other I brushed with an egg and milk mixture, since I was about to have an omelet and it was sitting there on the counter ready to go (our chickens are currently giving us 6 eggs a day, so one looks for ways to use them up).

I forgot to sprinkle the loaves with flour as the recipe calls for.

Instead of 50 minutes, I put the loaves in for 45 minutes and then I would check on them to see if they required the extra 5 minutes.  I decided it wouldn't hurt.

There was virtually no oven spring, probably my fault for not kneading enough.

Even my wife said that these loaves smelled delicious when baking and cooling. Was it the fat from the eggs that smelled so great or was it the loaves themselves?

These breads look okay, but they are a bit flat, and nothing like Wolter and Teubner's picture.

This bread tastes great.  In a taste comparison with the Myrtle Allen bread of the day before, this one tastes better.  Perhaps it is the molasses in the Myrtle Allen brown bread that isn't a hit, perhaps the honey in this one that makes it sweeter.  Perhaps it is just a little less baked; the crust is less crunchy, less burnt.  Both have a similar texture, a similar crumb, both are whole wheat, enriched loaves, but there is a subtle difference in taste and this one comes out ahead. Probably I will try baking Myrtle's bread with honey to see if that is the only difference.  And I will likely make this one again to see if I can improve it, too.  Can it be made on a baking stone, for instance?  Can it be made less sweet?  Can it be made with sourdough?  Likely I will take something of Myrtle's techniques and use those to bake this bread.  Or some hybrid loaf that is even now evolving in the back of my mind.

Notes to Myself
  • Make sure your water is the right temperature. In this case, 115 degrees F. No more, no less, or the times the authors suggest will be off.
  • Add the honey at the right time.  Only a Tablespoon at first, and then the rest with the second batch.  You might also want to consider introducing the yeast to only a cupful of the water, and then adding the rest of the water later when it gets foamy (just like yesterday's loaf)
  • Knead like they tell you to, when they tell you too.
  • Don't let distractions take you away from time-critical breadmaking tasks.  But keep your sense of humour.  Nothing is more important than life.  Stay with it.
  • Don't forget to sprinkle the flour on the water-brushed loaves.
  • Try this with wheat germ, not wheat germ flakes.

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