Whole Wheat Loaves {TWD-BWJ}

Many of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes from Baking with Julia have been new to me, either in ingredients, technique, or finished product. Not so these hearty whole wheat loaves. I’ve been baking bread for over 30 years, so there was nothing new here. Classic ingredients, standard techniques, nothing fancy.

But don’t take that to mean this was a ho-hum recipe. Far from it. While everything about this recipe was comfortably familiar to me, the finished loaves were nothing like the dense, crumbly whole wheat loaves so many recipes produce. No, these were light, airy, slightly sweet loaves that rose well over the pan and far beyond my expectations.

The ingredients list for the loaves was simple: water, yeast, honey, bread and whole wheat flours, canola oil, malt extract, and salt. It’s the honey and malt that give these loaves their earthy sweetness. And the combination of flours resulted in a hearty, yet tender, crumb.

The dough was wonderful to work with: firm, tacky but not sticky, and quite supple.

Here it is before bulk fermenting:

And here’s what it looked like 1 1/2 hours later:

I divided the dough (not too evenly, as it turns out), shaped the loaves, and put them in pans to proof.

After an hour of proofing, the loaves were well-risen and ready to bake.

This, boys and girls, is why you should always scale your dough.

I baked the loaves, cooled them, then put one in the freezer and kept the other out to use for toast and sandwiches.

This is a delicious bread, and easy enough to make a bread baker out of anyone!

Our host for this week are Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together. Check out their posts for the recipe and to see what they thought of this bread.

Whole Wheat Currant Bread {ModBak}

Whole Wheat Currant Bread is the third quick bread in the Modern Baker Challenge. When I think of quick bread, what comes to mind is something sweet and flavorful, more like a cake than a bread. Pumpkin bread, banana bread, blueberry bread — these are all my quick bread ideals.

So I must admit that I wasn’t all that excited to make this bread. It’s loaded with currants — and while I have nothing against currants per se, I had never actually baked with them before, and they just seem so healthy and, I don’t know, British.

But the real problem I had with this bread is that it is made with whole wheat flour. And not just some whole wheat flour, but 100% whole wheat flour. That’s right — it’s all whole wheat; not an ounce of AP or bread flour to be found. Again, I have no particular objection to whole wheat flour — I bake a lot of breads with at least some whole grain in them and love the complexity it adds to the flavor — but 100% whole wheat quick bread? I just couldn’t see why I would want to bake, let alone eat that. But I have committed myself to baking every recipe in The Modern Baker in order, so, like it or not, I cold hardly stall out on the third bread.

I began by assembling my ingredients. Although I’m a big proponent of using mise en place, I don’t always do a full mise for all my recipes. At the very least, though, I get out all of the ingredients so they are all at hand and I am certain that I am not missing anything.

As with many of Nick Malgieri‘s quick breads, the list of ingredients in Whole Wheat Currant Bread isn’t really all that long. Other than the whole wheat flour and currants, there is sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, oil, and milk or buttermilk. As with most recipes calling for buttermilk, I used dry buttermilk powder and water. I love the flavor of buttermilk but rarely keep in on hand, so  I almost always have buttermilk powder in the cupboard.

The batter came together very fast — it is a quick bread, after all. I didn’t time myself, but I would guess that the time between assembling the ingredients and putting the loaf in the oven couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.

I baked the loaf at 350° F for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center of the loaf came out clean. While the loaf was baking, I began to wonder if perhaps I had been too quick to judge this bread. It smelled really good in the oven, and when I took it out, I found I didn’t want to wait for it to cool before slicing into it.

But wait I did, at least for a while. When I finally sliced into the bread, it was still a bit warm and was loaded with currants. It still smelled divine, and I decided to try it with a little smear of salted butter.

So, how was it? Did the complexity of the whole wheat and the sweetness of the currants overcome my skepticism and make a believer out of me? In a word — YES!!! This bread was absolutely delicious. It didn’t have the grainy texture, density, and mealy flavor that whole wheat breads sometimes have. The robust flavor of the whole wheat was perfectly matched by the sweetness of the currants.

My family and several co-workers with whom I shared this bread all agreed: this recipe is definitely a keeper.

BBA Whole Wheat Bread — In a Word, Meh

I promised myself I wouldn’t let the weekend pass without writing my blog post for BBA Challenge bread #41, Whole Wheat Bread. I think I’ve been putting it off because I found this bread just so-so. It’s easier to write about a recipe when you have strong feelings about it — good or bad. This bread wasn’t bad; but it wasn’t great either.

The problem with most 100% whole grain breads for me is that they tend to be really heavy, and they don’t rise very well. This bread was no exception. The flavor was OK. But the bread was dense and too chewy.

Here are pictures of the baking process. You’ll note that I wasn’t inspired enough by the final product to take pictures of the finished loaves.

The recipe starts with an overnight soaker, for which I used whole wheat flour and wheat germ.

The dough begins with a whole wheat poolish.

The dough is placed in an oiled bowl and allowed to ferment for 2 hours.

After fermenting, the dough is divided and shaped.

The dough is shaped into loaves and placed in oiled loaf pans. After a 90-minute rise, the loaves are baked at 350 for about 45 minutes.

So, that’s whole wheat bread in a nutshell. Onto Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes, which are getting rave reviews from those who have baked them: Paul at Yumarama; Oggi at I Can Do That.