Mulit-Grain Whole Wheat Bread

I had written two posts about bread making in the beginning of March: Wetter bread dough… Less kneading and Part 2: Wetter bread dough… Less kneading. These posts were inspired by an article in the New York Time by Harold McGee, whose book On Food and Cooking is currently occupying much of my time, as I am slightly obsesses with food science.

Back in February, when I received my latest Martha Stewart Living magazine, they had a section on cooking about making bread, using one simple recipe and making variations to produce 4 different loaves.  At the time, Angel and I were on the LCD, so our bread intake was limited to those that contain whole grains and high fiber, which lead me to try the multigrain bread recipe. I tried this recipe on 3 separate occasions with slight variations, each time producing mixed results.  Despite using a thermometer to make sure my liquid ingredients were at the right temperature and the room temperature for the rise was correct, it would still produce a very dense loaf, tasty, but quite dense.

After dabbling with the recipe, I had moved on the the wetter loaves and less kneading philosophy of bread making, but I still had the multigrain loaf from MS in the back of my mind, I really wanted to make it work, but couldn’t figure out how, until I learned about dough hydration.

The original Martha Stewart recipe included cup and spoon measurements rather than weighed measurements, which isn’t a good sign because cup measurements are not as accurate, as there are many variables.  According to the original recipe, you have 56 oz of flour and 18 oz of water, which if you calculate will be 32% hydration (liquid weight ÷ flour weight = dough hydration).  A basic loaf by James Beard was 60%, and some of the wetter doughs that was experimenting with were quite higher than that.  Aside from the flour to water ration on MS recipe, the rise time was quite short, which they made up with more yeast to quicken the leavening. Too much yeast in the recipe could give the final product a very yeasty taste.

After spending way too much time pondering the science of bread, I decided to make my own loaf keeping the flavors of the MS multigrain loaf (honey, raw sunflower seed, flax seeds, whole oats) but, using the principal of the wetter bread… less kneading and the results were terrific.  I was very pleased at how my experiment turned out and I will now share my recipe with you!  I am very proud of this bread and if you are a baker, please try and share your experiences with me!

Casey’s MultiGrain Bread
.10 oz  active dry yeast
4 oz warm water (110 – 115F/43 – 46C)
.5 oz honey

14 oz warm water
2.5 oz honey
1.5 oz melted butter
15 oz whole wheat flour (about 2 3/4 cups)
15 oz white flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
.5 oz kosher salt
4 oz soaked bulgar*
2 oz whole oats
1.5 oz flax seeds
1.5 oz raw sunflower seeds

For starter: add the honey and warm water, stir till combined, make sure the temperature is between 110 – 115F/43 – 46C then add the yeast, stir and let sit for 10 minutes till foamy.

Combine flours and salt, whisk till incorporated.  Stir melted butter, honey and warm water together till combined and set aside.

Add foamy yeast mixture, flax seeds, whole oats and sunflowers seeds together with flour.

Stir till partially combined, then add the water, butter, honey mixture and stir till it comes together in a coehisive ball.

Knead the dough for about 3 – 4 minutes till slightly sticky/tacky.  Then let it rest for 30 minutes in a large oiled dish covered with plastic wrap that has been oiled so, the dough doesn’t stick during the rises.  
After the dough rests, knead for 6 – 7 minutes to activate the gluten. If the dough gets too sticky, don’t use any additional flour, but a bench scrapper to manipulate the dough.

After kneading, return dough to the oiled bowl and let rest in a warm draft-free area for an hour.  The temperature in my house was about 73F (23C), which is good.

After this rise, in the bowl, gently press out the air
 and fold into thirds with the seam on the bottom.

Cover the bowl and let rise another hour. After the hours passes, repeat following step: in the bowl, gently press out the air and fold into thirds with the seam on the bottom.

After the second rise, repeat the deflating and folding in the bowl, but let rise for an hour and a half.

After the third rise, divide the dough in half, and shape into a mound with the edges tucked underneath (or in an oiled bread pan) and place on a lined baking sheet (I use a Silpat).  Let rise for another hour and a half.  If you are not keeping track we are at 5 hours of rising!!!

About a half an hour before the end of the last rise, pre-heat your oven to 450F (235C).  If you want to sprinkle some extra seeds and oats on top, prepare and egg white wash, with some water and brush on to your loaves, then sprinkle with seeds. Also, I cut an “X” into the top of the loaf to ensure even heating.

Put the bread in the oven on the lowest rack and reduce the oven temperature to 400F (205C), let it bake for 40 minutes, but watch it at the end, in case the top gets too brown.

I am very proud of this bread recipe.  I made it twice so far, the second time, I wanted to get exact weighted measurements and the results were even better.
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Part 2: Wetter bread dough… Less kneading

This post is the continuation of Wetter bread dough… Less Kneading!

If you take a moment to read McGee’s article Better Bread with Less Kneading, you will see he suggest to use a recipe that is under 75% hydration (weight of the water less the weight of the flour), but if you calculate the quantities of water and flour associated with the Golden Whole Wheat Loaf recipe from the New York times, which accompanied McGee’s article, you can see that they require 11 oz whole wheat flour + 7.75 oz bread flour + .75 oz wheat bran = 18.5 ounces of dry ingredients and 2 oz water for yeast mixture + 16 oz =18 ounces of wet ingredients.  Using McGee’s formula to calculate dough hydration divide total liquid with by total flour weight you will get a dough with 1.02% hydration.  I am not sure if this is a error, but why link his article, with a recipe that was way over the recommended hydration percentage?
Today, I attempted this recipe again, which was where I noticed the supposed discrepancy.  I decided to adjust the weight of the flour, so that dough hydration would be exactly .75%. I bolded and italicized my changes.

Adapted Whole Wheat Golden Loaf recipe:

1 teaspoon dry active yeast
14 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
9 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) bread flour
1 oz (about 1/2 cup) wheat bran
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Olive oil cooking spray
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

In a small bowl combine yeast with 2 oz warm water (105 to 115 degrees) and stir to dissolve. In a medium bowl combine whole wheat flour, bread flour, bran and salt.  Add yeast mixture and 2 cups cool water (75 to 78 degrees) to dry ingredients; mix by hand to make a granular mass.

Knead about 2 minutes; dough should be very loose and sticky. If necessary add 1 – 2 tablespoons cool water.

Oil a large mixing bowl and a sheet of plastic wrap; set aside.  Transfer dough to a very lightly floured work surface and knead until somewhat cohesive, 3 to 4 minutes, using as little flour as possible and a scraper to lift and turn dough.  Return dough to bowl and place oiled plastic wrap over surface.  Allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Return dough to work surface and knead again 6 to 7 minutes: dough should be soft and loose.

Return to oiled bowl and cover again with oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for one hour.

Knead dough while still in bowl, gently deflation with your fingertips.  Fold in thirds like a letter, then bring ends in and turn over so seam is underneath.  Let rise again for one hour.

Repeat folding and turning process, and let rise again until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  When dough is fully risen, an indentation made by poking your finger deep into the dough will not spring back.
Sprinkle a large baking peel generously with cornmeal, or a lined sheet pan with parchment paper.  Divide dough into two equal pieces, shaming each into a tight boule (slightly flattened ball).  Place loaves on peel or pan, leaving about 4 inches between them to allow for rising.  
Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise again until nearly doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.  If loaves begin to grow together, put in oven before they touch.

Thirty minutes before baking, heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place a small cast-iron skillet on floor of a gas oven or lowest rack of an electric oven.  Place oven rack two rungs above pan. If using a baking stone, place it on the rack.  Fill a plastic spray bottle with water.

Score a tic-tac-toe pattern with a sharp knife or razor blade on top of each loaf.  Slide loaves into oven. Mist loaves 6 to 8 times, pour 1 cup hot water into skillet and quickly close oven door.  After 1 minute, mist again with water, and close oven door.

Bake 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, another 13 – 18 minutes.  Place on a rack to cool.

2nd Attempt .75%

1st Attempt 1.02%

As you can see by the two photos above the second attempt is more visually appealing and had a more loaf like shape, where as the first was flatter.  The most important aspect… taste, well the first was quite moist, but I like a nice crust, so my adapted recipe will be the one that I stick with.  According to my family, there really couldn’t tell the difference as they were hacking off multiple slices…

If you are a bread maker, I am eager for your thoughts on dough hydration.  I had lots of great feedback on my first post about other impacting factors such as the difference in flours from the United States to Bulgaria and humidity.  Looking forward to your comments!

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Wetter bread dough… Less kneading!

I love reading the Dining and Wine section of the New York Times.  I recently came across and an article by Harold McGee called Better Bread with Less Kneading.  Since Angel and I have started LCD, I have been making fresh, healthy, whole-wheat bread every few days.  My bread making skills are still inconsistent.  One day I will have a gorgeous loaf and the next day something that could pass for a weapon.
The article was accompanied by a recipe for Golden Whole Wheat Bread, which I tried the other night.  This bread was less labor intensive, but more time consuming than other recipes that I’ve tried because of the multiple rises.

I think I definitely did something wrong with my proportions of water to dry ingredients although I followed the recipe to the letter, even using a scale to weigh my dry ingredients and a digital thermometer to ensure my water temperature was spot on!

18.5 ounces of flour and wheat bran
Dissolving the yeast in 115F water
Adding the salt to the dry mixture
Adding the water to the dry ingredients
Kneading/Scraping the dough to activate the gluten
20 minute rest (Почивка)
At this stage in the game, as you can see from the instructions, there are numerous rises and folds, so you can imagine what they look like.
Final rise of my bread dough glop
Fresh out of the oven
I am going to give this bread another try because it was tasty, but I didn’t like just how wet it actually was.  I will need to re-examine my moisture content!  To be continued…

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