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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Orton's Wholegrain Wheat Bread

Orton's Wholegrain Wheat Bread

On a whim today, I purchased another whole grain recipe book (like I needed it).  This is not a new book, but rather, an old book, that has been reprinted in what looks like its 3rd incarnation.  This is Mildred Ellen Orton's "Cooking with Wholegrains: the Basic Wholegrain Cookbook", subtitled "How to make breads, rolls, cakes, scones, crackers, muffins, and desserts, using only stone-ground wholegrains".  Originally published 1951, it had a resurgence of interest in the 70's, and now has been republished again in 2010.  It is such a small book, I almost missed it, tucked away between many of the larger coffee-table sized books for artisan bread aficionados -- coffee table books that I myself had very little interest in.

The first recipe in the book -- after a quick introductory once-over that denigrates processed flours -- is a basic Wholegrain Wheat Bread, and I scaled it back to a 2-loaf version.  It uses "liquid shortening", and in the description of method, Mildred says you can use "butter, margarine or salad oil" in place of the liquid shortening. 

I looked at our can of shortening, hydrogenated to stay stiff at room temperature, that my wife uses to make pies with occasionally.  It is all fat, all of it saturated, some of it transfats, from palm and soybean oil, along with mono and dyglycerides.  It also contains a bit of ascorbic acid.

I opted to use olive oil instead.

Here are the weights I got, when I measured out a half-recipe (for 2 loaves), and the resultant percentages:

  • 60%        361g warm water
  • 1.5%        9g dry yeast (she calls for 2 pkts, and I used ABin5's measure of 1 1/2 Tbsp per 2 pkts, which measured 17g, and then halved that)
  • 0.5%        3g brown sugar
  • 8%        49g powdered milk
  • 100%    603g whole wheat flour
  • 7%        41g brown sugar
  • 1.3%        8g salt (I used a fine sea salt here, granule size like table salt)
  • 8%        50g olive oil

These older recipes usually have some twist to their methodology that tends to date them.  Even the words "punching down" that you encounter -- it is rarely used any more.  So its no surprise that the unusual thing about this recipe is the way the ingredients are put together:

    •    Dissolve the yeast and part of the sugar in the water, and let it foam.
    •    Mix 3/4 of the flour with the powdered milk, the rest of the sugar and the salt.
    •    Half of this is added to the yeast mixture and mixed thoroughly.
    •    Now the "liquid shortening" is added and mixed thoroughly.
    •    Then, the rest of the flour is added until you can't add any more in the bowl.
    •    Finally, the dough is kneaded to incorporate the last of the flour completely, until it is "firm but light".
    •    It is bulk fermented, covered, in a warm place (suggested in a warm oven).

    •    Then it is punched down, and kneaded again, and then divided.

    •    It is placed in a pan and proofed for 30 minutes.

    •    400 degrees F x 15 minutes, 350 degrees x 30 minutes.
    •    Removed immediately from the tins, then butter is placed atop the loaves.

Scaling the recipes might have made the dough slightly a little smaller for my two pans than the full 4-loaf original recipe might have been.  Or I simply didn't proof the loaves quite long enough.  Or I didn't knead the dough the second time, I just gently squished it down and then folded it and put it in the pan. 

Who knows why my loaves didn't rise quite large enough?  Still, they did rise a respectable amount, for the amount that I "punched them down".  Had I waited another 15 minutes, they surely would have cleared the pan.  Or had I put them back in my Excalibur for the final proof, they would have performed as the recipe expected.  Next time, perhaps.

But I was under some deadlines.  I had to get to sleep, in order to wake up at 5 to get to work.  I couldn't work much past midnight.  So I stuck to the times indicated in the recipe.

This bread came from the oven a rich chestnut brown, which was intensified by putting the butter on top.  I did have some trouble de-panning the loaves, and I think that is because I used olive oil on the tins, instead of butter. They came free with a little prying.

The next morning, I sliced one.  I noticed how light the loaf felt, when I lifted it.  Loaves this small generally are dense, but this one felt airy.  The crumb was moist inside.  I was able to slice it thinly, without it crumbling apart.  Very interesting.  Was that due to the addition of the oil here?

The taste is a bit sweeter than I like, but I think my wife will like it much better than yesterday's fenugreek bread, which I will be forced to eat entirely on my own.  Without having any molasses, this loaf has that 'old bread' taste about it that reminds me of molasses.  Perhaps that is the effect of the coarse brown sugar I used.

A bread that shows real promise.

Notes to Myself

  • Do the final 30 minute proof under controlled, warm conditions, as in the Excalibur Dehydrator.
  • Follow the directions for putting the ingredients together carefully. You don't believe it makes much difference, but it certainly does.
  • Try this with fresh ground whole wheat berries, milled fine. That is the wholegrain point.
  • Butter the tins, don't use olive oil here, the loaves will stick.

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