"Classic" 100% Whole Wheat Bread from King Arthur Flour
From time to time in the various bread blogs that I casually monitor, there are some recipes from the kitchens of King Arthur Flour in the U.S. that look interesting. It just so happened that, as I was playing with the no-knead breads of Doris Grant, Myrtle Allen, James Beard, and Wolter & Teubner recently, there was a blog about the most popular of all the King Arthur Flour's Kitchen Recipes. And that is a 100% Whole Wheat Bread.
Although I don't have access to their flour, I was curious enough to try it using my own flour, and to see how it might compare to the yeasted quick no-knead breads I was making.
Now I should mention that the King Arthur Flour recipe is not a 'no knead' bread. They advise you to knead it for 6-8 minutes, or knead it in a bread machine. There is no way this will work with my flour. I mean, I tried setting the timer for 7 minutes, but most of that time I spent just scraping the goo off my hands with the pastry cutter. I tried folding it on the counter with a greased pastry cutter too, but that was as pointless as doing it by hand. The object is to knead it until it becomes "smooth and supple". Well, perhaps by using the highest hydration they allow, mine was already smooth and supple. At any rate, I shut off the timer with about 3 minutes left to go, and this blob of goo wasn't really kneaded by hand.
But I get ahead of myself. Let's look at the weights of the recipe to see how it compares with the Doris Grant loaf that I recently made. I've worked out the grams of the KAF recipe, since they only give their weights in ounces; and of course, the baker's percentages come from my own calculations with the grams, so your mileage may vary:
|Ingredient||King Arthur recipe||Doris Grant recipe|
|whole wheat flour||397g (100%)||900g (100%)|
|water||283g (71%)||800g (89%)|
|honey||85g (21%)||13g (1.4%)|
|salt||9g (2%)||8g (1%)|
|oil||50g (13%)||30g (3%)|
|yeast||13g (3%)||6g (1%)|
|dry milk||28g (7%)||0|
Both loaves are enhanced doughs, with extra sugars and fats. Doris Grant used molasses originally to sweeten hers, and butter for the oil; because of this dairy product, perhaps, she didn't require any extra milk. The King Arthur flour recipe uses honey, and vegetable oil, and dry milk powder. If one adds the dry milk powder to the dry ingredients of the whole wheat flour, and one adds both the honey and the oil to the water, then the King Arthur Flour recipe has a hydration value of 98% compared to the Doris Grant recipe that would have a hydration value of 94% (if you similarly add up the wet and the dry ingredients in this way). However, true baker's percentages say you should only use the flour as the 100% percentage, and that is what I've based the table's percentages on. This means that the King Arthur recipe is properly a 71% hydration and the Doris Grant loaf is at 89% hydration, and those are the figures I have given in the table above.
The point I am making is, when you are working with the doughs, they feel the same, very wet.
Notice that the Doris Grant loaf uses far less of every dough enhancement. Less sweetener, less yeast, less oil, and less salt -- although I should add that the amount of salt that Doris originally advised was 2 tsp per loaf (16 g, or 3.5 %), and this has been adjusted in most modern versions of the Doris Grant recipe. The KA loaf gets butter added to the crust after baking so that the top remains soft and supple.
You could make this same recipe without kneading following Doris Grant's instructions. If you were going to make the Doris Grant Loaf with similar percentages to the King Arthur Flour recipe, this is the amount you would use for 2 loaves:
- 6-7 c whole wheat flour 900 g
- 2 1/3 c water 540g
- 2/3 c honey 189g
- 2 tsp salt 18g
- 2/3 c oil 117g
- 3 TBSP yeast 27g
(The cup and spoon measurements are going to be approximations, as always)
Again, this appears to be a 55% hydrated dough, but because of the honey and the oil, it is really still in the ballpark of 94%. The amount of yeast brings this into the same ratio as the KA bread. It seems like a lot to me; but I guess the KA people really require their recipes to be foolproof and work in a timely fashion.
I was tempted to try this modified Doris Grant no-knead recipe to see how it compares to the supposed-to-be-kneaded KA bread. And of course, I want to try a Doris Grant recipe in a casserole dish, Lahey-style. These loaves should be hydrated enough for that! (On the other hand, see below for a discussion of why I decided not to do so).
As for the King Arthur Flour Kitchen Recipe: I started this last night at 9 p.m. and I was done by about 2 a.m., and they said it should have been ready in between 3 and 5 hours. I suspect that if I had put the dough in a bread machine, it might have been kneaded and would have performed the way they suggest. Because I didn't knead it, or perhaps because I tried a little, this bread didn't perform the way they say it will. I could have waited a bit longer, if I wanted to stay up really late, but I was unwilling to do so.
Here are some photos of the wonderful time I had making this loaf:
|Mise en place: the water, honey and oil mean this is a very highly hydrated dough|
|I used the maximum hydration suggested|
|So far so good: the dough is starting to come away from the bowl as I mix|
|A spot of oil on the counter to smear around for kneading|
|giving up kneading: my camera gets goo on it as i try to snap a picture|
|into the oiled bowl it goes|
|after an hour, it has plumped and/or settled|
|Forming the 'log' is just as problematic as kneading it was|
|substantial expansion after the first hour|
|30 minutes later|
|30 minutes after that|
|I can't wait anymore: I preheat the oven|
|Fresh from oven. No oven spring.|
Yes, this one is stuck to the pan too.
|I drizzle butter on the top like the KAF kitchen suggests|
|After 5 minutes it came out of the pan quite easily|
|Now to let it cool completely: I can go to bed now.|
|Crumb: A very soft, pliable bread that holds up to thin slicing|
|Breakfast with Romano Tomato from the garden, and Mecklenburger Tilset Cheese|
This is the kind of bread that gives bread a bad name. What I mean is, if you eat this bread exclusively as your bread, thinking that whole wheat is better than ap or bread flour, expect obesity from all the extra simple carbohydrates and fats, and I wouldn't be surprised if you also got diabetes down the road from the high glycemic index of the loaf. I thought Reinhart's enhanced sandwich breads were sweet, but this one is ridiculously sweet.
This loaf is for people who like sugar rushes, not for those who like the more subtle rush of exorphins.
Notes to Myself
- I will likely never make this loaf again. Better would be to make a modified Doris Grant loaf, ease off the amounts of extra sugar and oil, and increase the water like she did. And forget trying to knead it. Why bother?
- Try the following Modified Doris Grant No-Knead Loaf, going only part way toward the enrichment that the KAF loaf provides (for 2 loaves). Here, I have increased Doris' honey and oil from what she suggested, but still not as much as the KAF loaf; and I have stayed at the 2% range for salt, not going as high as Doris' original, nor as low as the modern versions of her loaf. I have come up to the KAF level of yeast. Try this, therefore, in a couple of preheated casserole dishes:
- 7 c whole wheat flour 900 g
- 3 c water 671g
- 1/3 c honey 100g
- 2 tsp salt 7g (kosher)
- 1/3 c oil 75g (olive oil gave me 68g, and I didn't add any extra)
- 3 TBSP yeast 27g (I got this weight with just a little over 2 TBSP)
- The opinions expressed in this particular blog are my own and do not reflect actual scientific results based on peer-reviewed studies. If you are happy with eating your King Arthur Flour Kitchen 'Classic' 100% Whole Wheat Bread, more power to you.