"William Melville Childs'" Health Bread
This bread was "perfected" by a Baltimore resident for a benefit cookbook put out by the Walters Art Gallery. William Melvill Child's Health bread is supposed to use whole-wheat berries that are ground into course meal. I haven't done that here, but if the bread is wonderful, I may decide to do so, next time I make it. I wanted a fast bread that could be made in one day, and this one fit the bill.
James Beard's book, "Beard on Bread" includes a version of the recipe in the section on Whole-Meal Breads, and I jumped right in to making it without understanding the recipe and its variation; without actually reading all the ingredients first, to be honest. In his discussion of the bread, Beard says "His variation on this recipe which follows, uses absolutely no white flour and has a somewhat denser texture; but also more flavor."
"That's for me," I thought, and I started measuring out the ingredients. But I didn't realize that the truly 100% whole wheat version -- the one I wanted -- was the variation that Beard includes after the one I make here.
Beard does use some all-purpose flour in his version of the recipe. By the time I got to that ingredient in the list, I just groaned and continued to follow Beard's recipe as faithfully as I could, all the while thinking, "He lies, he lies". I really didn't get it, until I started putting the notes together for this blog entry.
Next time I make this (if ever I do), I will make the 100% whole wheat variation.
Here are the weights I measured as I made the (2) loaves:
- 23g Active Dry Yeast
- 177g Warm Milk
- 15g Granulated Sugar
- 533g boiling water
- 201g quick-cooking Oats
- 540g whole wheat flour
- 193g dark molasses
- 29g butter
- 20g (sea) salt
- 538g all-purpose flour
I never know how to calculate hydration in a bread like this. Does one add the molasses to the water and milk, since it certainly does add some liquid to the whole? Does one add the oats to the flours, when calculating everything that, in baker's math, totals to 100%?
Let's do it for every case:
Adding the milk, water, and molasses together as the liquid, and both flours, this bread is 84% hydrated; if you add the weight of the oats to the flour, consider it 71% hydrated. Or, if you don't want to exclude the molasses as part of the hydration, the values are 66% (without oats) or 56% (with oats).
The dough rises to double,
is kneaded for 12 minutes, the rest of the flour incorporated,
|five minutes of kneading|
|ten minutes of kneading|
and it is divided and placed in pans.
the loaves are scored,
and then it is baked for an hour at 350 degrees F.
When shaping the loaves, I tried two different techniques. The loaf on the right was shaped as a boule, and then slightly elongated to fit the narrow pan. I didn't worry about pressing it down into the end corners. The loaf on the left was pressed flat, and then rolled up tightly before fitting it into the pan.
The boule-shape, the one I was slightly more gentle with, saw a greater rise while proofing., and filled out into the corners of the pan all by itself. The other dough, the one I rolled up tightly, was perhaps a bit overhandled.
I also slashed both loaves differently. The one on the right got two slashes, the one on the left was slashed once, lengthwise. In my opinion, the one that was slashed twice was deflated more because of it.
I used a pan of water to make steam during the initial part of baking.
This is a typical sandwich style loaf, fairly sweet. There are enough oats to see some some of them in the crumb, but not really enough to change the taste or structure of the bread. I'm still not completely sold on molasses as a sweetener, but it does complement the natural bitterness of the whole wheat, so I can see why it has been traditionally used.
Notes to Myself
- This bread uses a lot of sugar (both granulated, and in the form of molasses), and a lot of yeast. I was frankly alarmed at how much yeast I was using. Two tablespoons! Of course my dough rose quickly, especially when I put it in the other room near the wood fire, where things are nice and toasty.
I could use a lot less yeast in this dough and achieve the same results over a slightly longer time, I'm sure. I might not get the same sort of amazing rise in the loaf if I did this, but I would feel better about it, and no doubt the taste will be superior, I'm sure.
- Next Time: use 1 Tbsp Yeast. Use the Whole Wheat variation of the loaf. Use less molasses. Use a longer proofing time.
- Use a tight boule shape before putting this dough into the pan.
- Before baking, give it one quick slash along its length.