Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wheat Whole Berry Bread

I actually had the treat of baking with company this week. My best friend Alex's father was visiting from San Diego, and he has baked quite a bit in his past, but not so much recently.  We decided to make a loaf together. It was a cool experience to be able to share some of my knowledge with another person.  It was really special and a pleasure to bake with another baker and to have the company of some good friends while the dough was coming together and proofing. 

I was also able to help teach some basic techniques for shaping pan loaves. I really enjoy the teaching process. It was inspiring and a very powerful experience for me. 

We made a whole wheat bread which again uses D. Leader's method of 20% bran wheat flour, which I am beginning to become a big fan of.  It is another way of increasing the healthiness of bread without compromising texture or taste. This loaf does require both a poolish and a soaker. The soaker contains whole wheat berries and hot water. I placed the berries in a small bowl; covered them with steaming hot tap water; then sealed them tightly with plastic wrap. When I checked the berries in the morning they were still a bit too firm for my taste, so I drained them and covered them again with boiling water from the stove this time. I think this helped. They are still a bit hard in the finished loaf, but there is little else that I could have done to short of cooking them for a an hour on the stove. 

This bread has a very strong wheat flavor. The formula called for 10" round loaves, but I decided that Alex's father would probably benefit more from watching my technique for making cylinder shaped loaves to be baked in loaf pans. I shaped the first loaf and then guided him through the process of shaping his own loaf.  He did a great job!  To be honest, I think the bread would have come out even better if it was not baked in a pan. I am not sure that the bread cooked enough on the inside. Usually, I take the loaves out of the pans about half way through the bake and place them directly on my baking stone.  I did not do this for this bread, and I feel that it compromised the finished loaf. 

My overall evaluation is that this is a strikingly mediocre bread.  Nothing about it says make me again. The poolish did give the bread a nice sourness, but a poolish is supposed to add a nutty wheaty flavor. Maybe Leader is just calling it a poolish.  To me, it was more like a very loose biga. I was glad that I made the loaf, but it did nothing for me in the taste or texture department. To be honest I am going to pawn the other loaf off on a friend.  
I am a firm believer that one should never submit one's self to mediocrity. I am going to recommend not baking this bread. Stick with the raisin sesame bread just posted. That bread promises excellent results while this bread promises nothing of the sort. Although this bread did not reach my expectations, it did provide several teachable moments. Also, never let a failed recipe stop you.  In the words of Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus: "lets get messy and make mistakes". If we do not try, we will never learn and if you never took a risk you would never have learned how to walk.

Bake on
(I would like to thank Allison, my good friend, neighbor, and fellow blogger for taking this loaf of of my hands. Do enjoy!!)


  1. I took the Davis household 1/2 a day to eat almost all of this "mediocre"'s REALLY good, especially toasted. Thank you for it!

  2. Dave,

    Thank you for the opportunity to bake with you! I learned a lot from you, and found out that there are even more things that I don't know. I guess because I am completely self-taught when it comes to baking, I only know what I've read over the years, and I obviously stopped short of some of the more interesting points! So not only did I learn from you last Saturday, but I got renewed inspiration to research further into bread baking techniques.

    As for the bread we made, I have to concur that it was not the best. It was extremely heavy, and I felt like I was primarily eating it because "it must be good for me with all that whole grain." Still, I must also concur with Allison that it gained a good crunch and nuttier flavor when toasted.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to try this out with you. Alex is lucky to have a friend like you. (And not just because you bake. :) )


    1. Jeff, I am so glad I was able to bake with you and spend the afternoon with you guys. I try to stay hard on my self in terms of my bread, mainly because it pushes me forward, and helps me become better. The loaf needed help, maybe it was healthy, but I that is no excuse.

      I always try to avoid toasting, I feel if a bread needs toasting it is either in need of help or or the trash, but at the same time I prefer to never throw food away.

      I am glad you enjoyed yourself, and I am glad the bread fire was put back under you!
      Bake on!! -DW