by Didier Rosada
Mix the final dough until the gluten structure is well developed with good strength.
Add the soaker to the dough, and mix until the seeds are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Cut the dough into 1-lb. 5-oz. pieces, and lightly shape the dough into balls.
Score the dough, roll the batards in seeds or sift flour on the top for several different variations.
It is not a secret anymore. Customers are better educated about food and are more aware and selective about what they eat. Natural, dietetic and traditional foods are only a few ways to describe this trend. The featured whole grain bread fulfills these characteristics and complements product lines to address this niche of the specialty bread market for food-conscious customers.
No refined white flour is used in this formula. This maintains the integrity of the whole kernel of wheat, which is naturally rich in fibers, minerals and vitamins. In addition, to improve the nutritional value, the formula incorporates a soaker made with seeds rich in minerals and fiber, including flax seeds (loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids), sunflower seeds, rolled oats and sesame seed. You can use other seeds, as long as you maintain the correct ratio of seeds-to-dough weight. Otherwise, the bread can be too dense, not have enough volume or have an unpleasant crust.
The whole wheat flour used in this formula is milled from white whole wheat. This specific type of wheat provides a sweeter flavor instead of the usual slightly bitter after taste when baking with a high percentage of whole red wheat flour.
For many years, the difference in bran color between wheat types was viewed simply as a natural genetic characteristic. In recent years, however, more focus has been made on white wheat. White wheat tends to provide better yield for the farmer, increase the extraction rate for the miller, produce more flour out of the kernel of wheat and provide better flavor and nutritional benefits for the consumer.
In addition to the whole wheat flour, some rye flour (rye meal and medium rye) also is used in the formula. These two flours increase the flavor complexity and provide more attractive texture.
In general, whole wheat breads (with no refined white flour) have not enjoyed a great reputation with bakers. Because of the high bran content of the whole wheat flour, the dough can be more difficult to handle. Stickiness, lack of strength, fast fermentation and porous dough are the main issues.
The stickiness is due to the fact that bran has a high water absorption capacity. In order to achieve dough with adequate consistency, the baker needs to increase water content in the formula, creating dough with a slightly sticky texture, which goes away after the first fermentation. The lack of strength is created by the particles of bran interfering with the gluten strains, which impedes a strong gluten structure formation and creates porous dough that does not have great gas retention.
Yeast uses the natural mineral content in the bran as an extra source of nutrients, resulting in faster fermentation activity. Bakers need to monitor fermentation carefully to avoid active dough that is difficult to keep under control and easily over-proofed. But with a well-adjusted formula and process, these issues are handled to make the elaboration of the bread easier.
Start with levain
This formula starts with the elaboration of the whole wheat levain. This is a key step of the formula. The acidification of a portion of the flour is important for this type of bread for several reasons. First, the acidity created during the pre-fermentation time of the levain reinforces the gluten and improves the bonds of the gluten chains. This creates a stronger gluten structure that traps more gas during the final proof. Acidity also adds to the complexity of the bread's flavor, and shelf life is improved.
The starter used in this formula comes from a whole wheat sourdough culture maintained with the same feeding proportion as the one used to make the levain, fed every 12 hours and allowed to ferment at room temperature (75 to 80°F). This formula yields 40, 1-lb. 5-oz. (600 g) loaves.
Regardless of the mixer you are using, adjust the mixing time and speed to obtain a good incorporation of all levain ingredients. It is not necessary to develop the gluten structure of the levain, and the consistency should be medium soft.
After mixing, transfer the whole wheat levain to a plastic holding tub, and ferment it at room temperature (75°F) for 12 hours until mature. The levain is fully mature and ready to use when it has domed slightly on the top and just begins to recede.
Soak the seeds for the soaker in the water at least two hours before mixing. The soaking process tenderizes the seeds and makes them more pleasant to eat. Also, fully hydrated seeds will not draw any water from the final dough, preserving its initial consistency. Soaking the seeds also helps diffuse their flavor throughout the dough and creates a more intense flavor in the finished product.
If different seeds are used, it might be necessary to adjust the water content in the soaker due to varying absorption levels of the seeds. The goal is to obtain a soaker where seeds are fully hydrated with no unabsorbed water.
To mix the final dough, incorporate whole wheat flour, medium rye flour, rye meal, whole wheat levain and water 1 in first speed for three to four minutes. The dough consistency should be medium soft.
Add the yeast and the salt, and mix for two more minutes in first speed. Then, mix in second speed until the gluten reaches medium development.
At this stage, add water 2 and mix in first speed. Adding the water in two steps, or double hydration, allows for faster gluten development and shorter mixing time. Mix the dough until it is fully incorporated, about three minutes. Mix another three minutes in second speed until the gluten structure is well developed.
The dough should have a soft consistency, and the gluten structure should be fairly well developed with a good strength. The soft dough consistency is important to give enough dough extensibility and ensure proper development during the oven spring.
Once the desired gluten structure is obtained, add the soaker to the final dough. Mix in first speed until all the seeds are well distributed throughout the dough. Final dough temperature should be 76° to 77°F.
Transfer the dough to a plastic holding tub, and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the dough onto a floured surface, and fold it. The goal is to naturally increase the strength of the dough and reinforce the gluten structure. Ferment the dough for 30 more minutes.
When the first fermentation is complete (one hour total), cut the dough into 1-lb. 8-oz. (675) pieces. If using a pan, adjust the dough size according to the pan size. Tightly pre-shape the dough into a light ball, and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
After resting, shape the dough into batards. At this stage, you have several options for proofing the dough. You can use proofing baskets; or wet the surface of the batards, and roll the dough in seeds (light color seeds, such as rolled oats or sesame seeds should be used to avoid a dark crust color on the breads after baking); or proof in moulds or pans for a square shape; or sift flour on the surface for a rustic appearance.
If you are not using proofing baskets, score the bread right after shaping. This technique is preferable for weaker dough. Scoring after proofing can create too much damage to the gluten, and penalize gas retention during the oven spring and ultimately the volume of the bread.
Cuts perpendicular to the side of the loaves are preferred since they favor a more vertical development of the bread and provide a better cross-section on the finished product. It is not necessary to score the loaves with seeds on their surface. Proof at room temperature for about 1 to 11/2 hours. Be careful to not let the dough over-proof.
Ideal sandwich bread
Place the bread in the oven. Fill the oven with steam, and bake at 450°F for about 25 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 400°F and bake for another 20 minutes. To avoid a soggy crust, it is important to let the bread dry out enough before removing it from the oven. This process allows the moisture retained by the bran to evaporate, and ensures good crust characteristics. To dry out the bread, open the oven doors or the damper at the end of the baking cycle for 10 to 15 minutes to finish the bake in a "dry" bake chamber.
After baking, cool the bread on wired cooling racks. The bread should be completely cooled before tasting in order to fully enjoy the flavor.
This bread is generally best enjoyed thinly sliced and is a particularly good match with salad, soft cheese or sandwiches, such as turkey/avocado/alfalfa sprout or vegetable.
Add honey to the formula to create a touch of sweetness. However, to avoid compromising the nutritional value of the bread, the percentage should be limited to five percent based on the total flour. When adding honey, yeast should be reduced in the final dough and baking temperature should be lowered to avoid a dark crust color that can negatively affect the flavor of the bread.
Another interesting option is to replace the soaker with 15 percent toasted hazelnuts and 15 percent soaked raisins (based on the total dough weight). This substitution results in bread that can be enjoyed for dessert or as a healthful snack.
|Whole wheat levain|
|Whole wheat flour||2.05 kg||4||8||100|
|Total appr. wt.||4 kg||8||13||195|
|Instructions: Mix ingredients until medium-soft consistency. Ferment at room temperature for 12 hours until fully mature.|
|Flax seeds||450 g||1|
|Sunflower seeds||450 g||1|
|Sesame seeds||450 g||1|
|Rolled Oats||450 g||1|
|Total appr. wt.||3 kg||6||10|
|Instructions: Soak the seeds in water at least two hours before adding to the final dough.|
|Whole wheat flour||8 kg||17||10||80|
|Medium rye flour||1 kg||2||3.2||10|
|Rye meal||1 kg||2||3.2||10|
|Water 1||6.4 kg||14||1.3||64|
|Yeast, dry instant*||60 g||2||0.6|
|Whole wheat levain||4 kg||8||13||40|
|Water 2||1 kg||2||3.2||10|
|Total appr. wt.||24.73 kg||54||7.4||247.3|
Instructions: Prepare according to article. Fill oven withsteam, and bake at 450°F for 25 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 400°F, and bake an additional 20 minutes.
*If fresh yeast is used, just use 1.25 instead of 0.5 percent of dry instant yeast. Water content may change depending on flour characteristics.
Didier Rosada is a baking instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute. He began baking at the age of 15 in France, where he attended a regional professional school and apprenticed under a local baker. He also has baking experience at Club Med and was awarded the Brevet de Matrise from the Institut National de Boulangerie-Patisserie in Rouen, France. In 1996, he became the unofficial trainer for Baking Team USA, which took first place in the bread category at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. He helped train the Baking Team USA in 1999 and 2002 for the Coupe du Monde in Paris. He also was a baking instructor at the former National Baking Center.