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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Collaborative bread - Fanny Farmer's Oatmeal with whole wheat

A Collaborative Bread 

This was a collaborative bread that my wife and I made together, out of necessity.

Born of necessity
I was working a 3-day stretch, but only had bread for 2 days. Knowing I'd run out in the middle of that exhausting period when I was working, I once again decided to put together the ingredients for the soaker and biga the day before working, so as to make it easier on myself. But really, the Reinhart breads are simply too time consuming to make when one is working 12 hour shifts and expected also to sleep.

(see this recent experiment in time, as I tried to put Reinhart's bread into a nurse's schedule)

I looked at those ingredients I had put together, but I knew I didn't have time before I slept, or after I slept, to bring the dough to room temperature, make the bread, do all the various rises and formations of it, and bake the bread, before I had to return to work.

I required a bread that I could just make and bake and be done with it. That is why I reached for the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It has many recipes that are similar to quickbreads, entailing a straight mixing of ingredients and baking, with no overnight soakings or extra-long waiting periods.  That's what I needed here.

The bread recipe I selected was a bit serendipitous. I had just recently had someone reply to one of my old blogs, the one where I made "William Melville Childs Health Bread".  That bread had oatmeal in it, and I had made a version of it that had all-purpose flour; I was still curious about the bread and if it would perform as well with whole wheat flour.

Now here was the Fannie Farmer cookbook with a simpler recipe that used oatmeal in a remarkably similar way to the Wm M Childs Health Loaf. But the Fanny Farmer's recipe also featured all- purpose flour. I decided to make the Fannie Farmer loaf, but to use whole wheat flour instead, without otherwise adjusting the hydration. The method of making the bread seems similar, although the ingredients are not the same.

I only had about three and a half hours to make the bread, which wasn't quite enough to actually bake it. That is why, when I left the house for work, I required the assistance of my wife to put the loaves into the oven and bake them in my absence. She was willing: hence, this is a collaborative bread.

Here are the ingredients I used. As usual, your mileage may vary:
• 100g instant oats
• 483g boiling water
• 9g yeast
• 59g warm water
• 164g molasses
• 15g fine sea salt
• 12g olive oil
• 854g whole wheat flour

I didn't actually incorporate all the whole wheat flour. I probably used only 5 3/8 cups, rather than the full 5 1/2 cups.

Method: you boil the water, cover the oats, let it stand 15 minutes.

The yeast is put into warm water (I added a bit of the molasses to the water too) and it stands 5 minutes.

Then everything is mixed together.

and kneaded until smooth.

It sits in a bowl to double.

and then it is shaped and put into pans. (At this point, my wife took over) The dough is left another hour,

the oven preheated, and it is baked for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F. (By this time, I was already back at work).

You might argue that we could have just as easily collaborated on the Reinhart bread. But I think that the Reinhart loaves are just a little bit more complicated, and I felt that prevailing on my wife to perform the extra steps of forming the final Reinhart loaves would have been too much for me to ask. I simply would not have been as far along in the bread making process if I had stuck to the original Reinhart loaf.


My wife says that she can taste her jam on this bread, even though the molasses imparts a lot of the taste to this loaf. The whole wheat flour isn't noticeably bitter, and the molasses was not overpowering for her.

While I'm not particularly impressed with this bread, I'm just glad I have a few slices that I can take with me on that third day of work.

Notes to Myself
  • The amount of starch in a whole wheat flour is less than the similar amount by weight in an all-purpose flour.  Is there similarly less gluten?  If so, you can't just adjust the hydration and expect it all to just work out.   
  • Try the Wm Melville Childs recipe again, but use whole wheat.
  • Keep the house warm when bulk fermenting.
  • Find a recipe that you like for these times when you have to bake an "Emergency Bread"

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