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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wolter and Teubner Wheat Germ Loaf: Oil vs No-Oil

Wolter and Teubner Wheat Germ Loaf - Oil vs No Oil

Today we spent the day boiling down some maple tree sap that we've collected from our (2) back yard maple trees.  The liquid has to reduce by 40:1 to get Maple Syrup, and that is a lot of boiling.  Needless to say, this has to all take place outside.  When I was a kid, my Grandma once allowed me to boil it off in her kitchen -- I just had to clean the stickiness off the ceiling when I was through.  I vowed I'd never do that again!

Sap is running

We use a little hotplate outside to boil our syrup in a roasting pan -- it takes forever!

As we waited for the sap to boil off, of course I made some bread.

This is now the sixth time I've made this recipe, most of them recently.  Today, I experimented to see what purpose the oil has in the recipe.  I've made one loaf with oil, and the other without oil, to compare the two, and see if what I've recently read is true: does oil interfere with gluten formation?

Here we see ingredients for No-Oil vs Oil.  But what's this?  No Salt?!

Here is the list of ingredients that I am using, after scaling the original Wolter & Teubner Wheat Germ Bread recipe to make one-loaf batches.

    •    466g Whole Wheat Flour
    •    70g Wheat Germ
    •    3g Yeast
    •    6g Salt
    •    47g Honey
    •    359g Water

    •    19g Oil (OPTIONAL)

Dough #1: No Oil
Dough #2: Oil

The dough is mixed 'like' a no-knead dough, but it is slightly less hydrated than a no-knead dough, and it did require a bit of kneading just to incorporate all the ingredients together.  The original Wolter & Teubner recipe insisted on times and temperatures.  Here, I am more relaxed about temperature, and give it a longer bulk fermentation.

Salt-free Autolyse

I made another blunder this time: I forgot the salt when I initially mixed the dough.

Both doughs thus sat as an unintentional autolyse for 30 minutes before I remembered it.  At that point, I just flattened the dough, sprinkled the salt on top, and then kneaded it in for 5 minutes.

"If it works out, maybe this will be the new technique," someone who noticed my mistake quipped.

Ultimately, I don't think that the late addition of the salt had any major deleterious effect (assuming I was still able to incorporate it fully with my kneading).


The dough bulk fermented for a total of 4 hours from when I added the salt.

Then I preheated the stone in the oven, formed the loaves, and had them rest in floured baskets for 45 minutes.

Dough #1: No Oil

Dough #2: Oil

After that time, I brushed off the extra flour, wetted them down, sprinkled a tiny bit more flour on the surface and scored them slightly.

Dough #1: No Oil

Dough #2: Oil

The loaves were baked at 400 degrees F. for 50 minutes, with steam.  With 15 minutes left on the timer, I removed them from the baking paper and they sat directly on the hot stone until the conclusion of the bake.


These loaves didn't puff up in the oven much.  And they did flatten out a little bit, too.  Could it be that I should cut back on the hydration percentage even more?

My Loaves of Wheat Germ Bread, No-Oil and Oil'd versions,
posing with the miniscule amount of maple syrup we were able to make today

So what did this comparison of oil vs no-oil tell me?

The oiled dough actually rose slightly more in the bulk fermentation phase than the un-oiled dough. The oiled dough felt softer -- despite the fact that it supposedly adds nothing to the gluten structure, it did add a bit to the overall hydration.  I think that it could be classified, in this recipe at least, a 'dough conditioner'.  

It was wetter to handle, slipperier to form into a boule.  On the other hand -- perhaps because it was trickier to shape, and perhaps I was more careful, who knows? -- despite its moistness I was able to fold it and pull the gluten cloak around it such that it continued to hold its shape while being baked free-form.  It may have even held its shape a little better than the un-oiled dough, although it is difficult to say whether it was the oil or the slightly different handling that was required.

I will have to wait until the morning to slice into the breads, for the final word on how the addition or the leaving out of the oil affects the crumb.  At least for now, it would seem that the bread with the oil fared slightly better.

Crumb shots

I don't detect any major difference in crumb between the two loaves, and I don't really detect any difference in taste.  

Both loaves sagged.  The no-oil crumb might be a trifle airier crumb, but not by much.  I wouldn't say its significant.

If it ain't required: leave it out.

Notes to Myself

  • Forget the oil in the recipe.
  • Sun. Flower. Seeds.  You keep forgetting this.
  • So what do you think about adding the salt 30 minutes into the bulk fermentation this way?  I wonder if that is enough time for the yeast to actually begin to reproduce?  Probably not: I didn't really see any activity in the dough in the first 30 minutes.  (No doubt something was happening, I just didn't see it in that time frame.) 

    I smell another trial coming: salt in the beginning vs salt with a 30-min autolysed dough.
  • The crust is still not the same, not anything like the shot in the recipe book.  That picture shows a soft, gentle kind of smooth crust.  I have no idea how they achieved it, I have tried lots of different ways to emulate what they have done, but nothing seems to work.  Perhaps brushing on a water and flour glaze after it is done baking?  What haven't I tried yet?
  • Try cutting back on the hydration even a little bit more...
  • Try adding a pinch of Vitamin C.

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