Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recipe: White Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ and Rye

White whole wheat bread with wheat germ and rye, one baked, one rising

I have stumbled upon a major pet peeve. In my daily perusal of the interwebs I often see baked goods advertised as whole wheat. I get excited, go to the site to check out the recipe, and 9 times out of 10 I am disappointed to learn the item in question is not, in fact, "100%" whole wheat. Sometimes it's a sprinkling of whole wheat flour, and sometimes it's just a sprinkling of AP flour, but to me it doesn't matter how much whole wheat flour you work in, if you still us AP flour in the recipe, I don't think you should call it "whole wheat". Is it better to replace half the flour in a recipe with whole wheat rather than none? Totally. Can you still boast that it's a healthier baked good? Sure, why not. But if I'm going to be healthy, I want to go all the way. And if I'm not making something already sinful, like dessert, I like to eliminate the processed starches where I can. Ok, I'll get down off my soapbox now.

So a few weeks ago I attempted my first loaf of whole wheat bread. I started with this whole wheat with wheat germ and rye recipe, courtesy of Annie's Eats, because, well...the picture just looked really good. I'm a consumer whore, I know. But I also liked the use of honey instead of sugar, and the wheat germ. I've had a big bag of wheat germ in my refrigerator for months, and I'm always looking for good ways to use it. But I did something I don't normally do. I deviated. *gasp!* I know! I planned to follow it to the letter, in the hopes of getting a loaf that looked as pretty as Annie's, but the recipe was lacking in one area. That dang 2+ cups of AP flour. At the very last minute I decided I didn't want it in there. So I modified. And you know what? I conquered! I don't know what took me so long, but this was actually my first loaf of bread. You know, like sandwich bread, in a loaf pan and all. And really, it was easy!

For my modifications I used white whole wheat flour instead of regular whole wheat flour. If you don't already know, white whole wheat flour is just as healthy as regular whole wheat flour. It's just made from white wheat, rather than red wheat. I find it lighter in both taste and texture. The only place I've found it is Trader Joe's, but it's also readily available online (King Arthur's Flour is always a good resource). Also, I nixed the AP flour entirely. I was afraid this might make the dough too heavy, so I added some vital wheat gluten. I found this at my local natural food store months ago, I've not seen it at the big grocery stores, unfortunately. I'm really not actually sure exactly what it does, but I think it's supposed to give a little help to more robust flours to help their gluten develop, which is how they rise and get all delicious. I honestly have no idea how this recipe would turn out without it. It would probably be fine. Worst thing, it would be a bit stubby of a loaf. Perhaps adding a bit more yeast would be in order? As you can tell, I am by no means an expert on bread baking...yet.

Anyway, this bread was faaaaantastic! It had a great crust on the outside, nice and crunchy, but thin like a sandwich loaf crust should be. The bread was sweet and nutty, yet light. I wish I had gotten a picture of a slice of the bread. Next time. I definitely can't boast that baking my own sandwich bread is just as easy as buying it at the store, but it wasn't traumatic, so now I cringe a little every time I buy a loaf. Heh. That's ok though, I don't eat bread very often, so I actually need all those preservatives they put in. Plus, Husband, always supportive of my baking, downed both of these loaves in a week. Ok, I helped. But he seems to feel the need to destroy everything that comes out of the oven. I'm ok with that.

I also found out my bread slicing skills are dismal! They were too thick, too thin, slanted, ugly. I need one of those bread slicing machines, like they use at California Pizza Kitchen. Or, you know, just learn not to be completely inept. So practice, or winning the lottery...whichever comes first.

I was just planning on linking the recipe, but I think I actually modified this recipe enough to post it here. I can't call this 100% whole wheat either, because technically there's rye flour and wheat germ in it too, but I'm comfortable calling it whole wheat bread without feeling like a total hypocrite.

Not the best picture, but one dang good loaf of bread

White Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ and Rye
adapted from Annie's Eats

Yield: two 9-inch loaves


2 1/3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
1 ½ TB instant yeast
¼ cup honey
4 TB unsalted butter, melted
2 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup rye flour
½ cup toasted wheat germ
5-6 cups white whole wheat flour
4 TB vital wheat gluten

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey, butter (make sure the butter is also under 100 degrees so you don't kill your yeast) and salt with a rubber spatula. Mix in the rye flour, wheat germ, 2 cups of the white whole wheat flour, and the vital wheat gluten.
  2. Add 3 cups of the white whole wheat flour, attach the dough hook and knead at low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Add more flour as necessary to get the dough to the right consistency. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead just long enough to make sure that the dough is soft and smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Heat the oven to 375°. Gently press down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces. Gently press each piece into a rectangle about 1-inch thick and no longer than 9 inches (width-wise, so it will fit in your loaf pan). With a long side of the dough away from you (hot dog, not hamburger), roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing down to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place each cylinder of dough into a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, seam-side down, pressing the dough gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover the shaped dough; let rise until almost doubled in volume, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim reads 205°, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the bread immediately from the baking pans to a wire rack; cool to room temperature.

A few notes on the recipe:
  • If you can't find white whole wheat flour, you could certainly just use regular whole wheat flour. Next time I think I'll try this, just to see how much the loaf differs in taste and consistency.
  • To toast the wheat germ I just spread it evenly over some foil and put it in my toaster oven until it smelled done (maybe 5 minutes).
  • I only have one loaf pan (another thing to add to my always-long kitchen list!), so I baked the loaves one at a time. Obviously, the second loaf didn't do it's full rise in the loaf pan. I just left it out on the counter to rise, and when I transfered it to the loaf pan, I made sure to be gentle so I didn't press out any air.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I'll admit that I find using half ap and half wheat flour makes the bread a little softer/more tasty.. but I bet that white wheat flour you used would work great! Now, where to find that... :)