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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wolter & Teubner's Wheat Germ Loaf Revisited

Wolter & Teubner's Wheat Germ Loaf Revisited

Oh, the humanity. 

Chalk this one up to just another minor Hindenburg disaster on the long road with its ever-receding horizon, that leads to whole wheat bread perfection.

Okay, I was really curious about this loaf for two reasons:  (1) the way the yeast gets elaborated in a straight-dough method, and (2) the unusual crust that the loaf in the picture accompanying this recipe in W&T's book seems to have.  I have to show you their picture, because frankly, I have not yet been able to duplicate it!

The ingredients:

  • 100g liquid honey ( 1/3 c)
  • 750g warm water, 110 degrees F (3 c + 2 TBSP)
  • 37g Active Dry Yeast (4 pkg, or 4 scant TBSP) (NB: use 10g instead!)
  • 400g 900g Whole Wheat Flour (6 c) (woops! see comments)
  • 13g Salt (2 tsp)
  • 38g Oil (3 TBSP)
  • 150g Wheat Germ (1c, they say, but closer to 1 1/2 c)
  • Extra Water
  • Extra Flour

W&T don't actually tell you how much 4 pkg of Active Dry Yeast is.  Anywhere.  So I went to Beard's book, and used what he says -- but that turned out to be WAY too much.  And I neglected to do the smart thing, which is (a) ask myself, have I made this loaf before, and how much yeast did I use? or (b) look it up on the internet.  Probably the entire failure of this loaf is due to the excessive amount of yeast I used.

I have made this loaf before, and although I was disappointed THEN with how they sagged, this time was even worse. 

The Method:

Add 1 TBSP of the honey to the warm water and sprinkle with yeast.  Lest stand until frothy.

Put 1/2 flour and salt into large bowl.  Stir remaining honey and oil into yeast mix.  Beat into flour mixture. 

it is not dough yet, just a very wet batter

Cover and rise in warm place, 30 minutes.

Stir remaining flour and wheat rem into mixture.  Knead until smooth and elastic.

Very gooey.  Too gooey to hold the camera steady for a good shot.

With wet hands and using a pastry scraper to stretch and fold, this eventually comes together.

Still quite a wet dough
Cover and rise to dough, 30 min.

I knew that this dough would rise into the plastic, so I covered the bottom part of plastic with oil

Knead well.  Shape into 2 loaves.  Place on baking sheet.  Cover and rest 15 minutes while preheating oven to 400 degrees F. 

Just like last time, I didn't knead this anymore, just did some stretch-n-folds.

Slash loaves.  Brush with water, sprinkle with flour.

Bake 50 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped.

My Experience:
Everything was going fairly well until the final 15 minutes of rest while the oven preheated.  The loaves at this point just unfolded and fell apart.
When I went to paint them with water and sprinkle flour on them, they simply deflated.  When I scored them, you could visibly see  them fall, as if they were balloons being stuck with a pin.

I sprinkled a wet cracked wheat and whole wheat flour mixture on the loaf on the left

Hope springs eternal, and I put the dough as-is into the oven, trusting for some miraculous oven spring.  Of course, that expectation was dashed.  In keeping with the rather flat focaccia loaves I've made this week, these loaves came out of the oven flat as well.

I cracked into them right away to try it -- what was the use of waiting for the crumb to set, since the steam was already escaping from where they touched each other on the baking sheet?

steamy loaves

I have to say that the taste is wonderfully nutty.  If I could ever get this dough to actually stand up on the baking sheet, this might be the best tasting whole wheat bread ever.

Notes to Myself
  • Better would have been to paint them BEFORE the final rest, and make sure that they have a floury, gluey surface that will somehow contain them.  In fact, it probably is better if they go directly into the oven before they have a chance to fall apart.  Shape them, then score them and paint them, and send them directly into the already-preheated oven.
  • In fact, try shaping them with wet hands, and dip them in water, then flour, just before putting them on a baking sheet.  Score them, but don't wait 15 minutes - just put them in the hot oven immediately to see if that works.
  • Use 10g of yeast only
  • Search your own blog before you try a recipe. You might have already made it, and you might have already come up with some ideas that might prevent a failure.  After all why are you writing anything here?


  1. Hi. I want to offer some advice, but before I do I want you to know that I intend only to be frank with you, and never insulting.

    First, a little about myself. My name is Peter Alexander and for twelve years I was an underbaker at La Brea bakery in California before moving to the east coast and starting my own artisan bakery; before La Brea I baked under Jeff Hamelman at King Arthur Flour in Vermont.

    Now for the advice. There is no excuse to be making any bread dough at 160%, not even when the dough includes a significant amount of wheat germ. No excuse. That's what your dough collapsed in the oven and has a cake-like crumb. It's a trend I've noticed in almost all of your other doughs too. It's why they collapse when baked and come out looking like pan-sized gingerbread cookies. Judging by the white flour breads you produced at that baking class, you can shape well enough for a home baker. Shaping isn't the problem. It's the hydration. You're way, way, way overcompensating for the whole grains.

    Cut back the hydration. Please. I'm begging you.

    P.S. Ditch Reinhart. In the artisan industry we all look down on him. He doesn't know as much as he lets on.

  2. Thanks Peter A. Glad to know that experts like you still care about the awful breads that get made in kitchens around the world, like mine. I can always use the advice.

    Thanks for pointing out the typo (I had written 400g this time, rather than 900g for the whole wheat flour, which would have made the dough more like soup at around 160% hydration). The actual hydration of this dough is somewhere around 77%. Which I should have been able to shape. But maybe you're right, I can cut back on the wet stuff and see what happens. Generally if it is too wet, I can't knead it long enough, and maybe that's why the gluten doesn't develop well enough...

    I hate to see a grown man beg. No, really, I get it: you make great breads, and can't stand to see someone make crappy loaves all the time.

    I won't be ditching Reinhart just yet. I don't have to defend him. His whole wheat techniques are very difficult to fit into my lifestyle, and I rail against most of his recipes I've tried. But it is a goal I set for myself in the beginning, when I knew absolutely nothing about whole grain breads, to work my way through his book. He is not my whole life in bread. I knew a year ago that he is not a bread god (eg. see links from this blog

    But I still learn from making his recipes. I see no reason to change that goal. If I get through his book, maybe the next goal will be to go through the Laurel's Kitchen book, or even Hamelman's book, or perhaps yours, if and when you write it.

    Share what you know, you might be surprised how hungry we all are for it. I mean, I'll certainly get tired of eating pan-sized gingerbread cookies.

  3. I'm glad you weren't hurt by my criticism, Cellarguy. I'll write a more detailed criticism tomorrow afternoon.

  4. My wife would appreciate it. She, even more than me, is tired of those pan-sized gingerbread cookies that I call bread, and eat like humble pie.

  5. Sorry Cellarguy, to use this to post to Peter Alexander. Peter, like Cellarguy, I too use Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads Book. I also use Laurel Robertson's book. The reason I, and I believe Cellarguy as well, like these books is because we are completely into whole grains and practically refuse to use refined flour. If you know of other sources / formulae / techniques for 90%+ whole grain breads, I would LOVE to hear about them.