Friday, September 27, 2013

The Bread Diaries: Whole Wheat Flour

This week I have worked with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat is healthier than white as we all know, and many people cringe at the thought of baking with whole wheat flour for various reasons. Whole wheat bread is more often than not, very dense compared to the soft fluffy texture we are used to with white bread. It can also be very dry because it absorbs more liquid and requires more liquid than other flours.

 

Whole wheat flour can be very appealing if you experiment with different ingredients and baking methods. Try recipes with photos so you can see what the bread should look like, and never be afraid to ask questions on each recipe you try online.

Tips & Tricks:

Flavor:

The best tip for any bitterness you may have when baking bread is to replace a portion of the water in the recipe with orange juice. Whole wheat flour is strong in flavor, and it does very well paired with other strong flavors.

Texture:

When you are converting a recipe from white flour to whole wheat, you should first try the recipe, replacing about 1/3 of the white flour with whole wheat flour. The mixture of the white with the wheat will offer a fluffier crumb and a mild flavor. The more you bake that recipe, each time you replace a bit more white with wheat, and you will see where you need to make adjustments to other ingredients such as fats and liquids. Whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white flour, so you will be required to add more liquid. Do this with small amounts of water, about a tablespoon at a time.

Many whole wheat bread bakers add Vital Gluten to their flour for more elasticity. I don't want to buy the extra, so I cannot answer any questions about that at the moment. I will however say that sifting your whole wheat flour will help a bit with a lighter texture. Also, try using a whole wheat flour with a higher gluten protein percentage for breads.

When I make my whole wheat bread with all wheat flour, I gamble with rise time and I max out the rise just before baking. You really need to pay attention though, because over rising will not end well. Try this method once you get to know your dough a little better.

Enriched dough

The addition of milk, eggs and fats into your dough is referred to as enriching. These additions provide whole wheat dough with a softer, fluffier texture, versital flavor, and higher rise.

Since each type of flour has its own density and texture, they each weigh out differently too, so you may want to find recipes that use weight measurements rather than using cup measurments. I don't have a scale right now but soon hopefully. All of my experience in my own bread endeavors have lead me to adding whole wheat flour in small stages while I knead, so that the flour absorbs the liquid and I can feel whether I actually need more flour or more water. When you add it fast, you will notice that you will have to add more liquid as it sucks it all up in its own time, so just incorporate your whole wheat flour slowly as you work your dough if you are using cups measurements.

Storage:

Whole wheat flour goes bad yes. Most people don't use whole wheat flour as often as white flour, so it tends to sit around a while in between recipes. To keep your whole wheat flour fresh for long periods of time, or indefinitely, simply put it in a plastic, sealable bag and keep it in the freezer. I keep all of my flours in the freezer other than white all purpose flour because I use that daily. 

You could also grind your own flour as needed if you have a flour mill or other pulverizing method. 

King Arthor Flour has a measurement conversion table that offers various ingredients volume measurements with the proper weights conversions.

See our 100% Whole Wheat recent recipes below!

This wheat bread is the bomb for being 100% whole wheat. The main thing I can tell you about this particular recipe is that sticky, moist dough is good. Give the whole wheat flour time to absorb the liquid before adding more. As you knead the dough, you will see that it gets very moist and sticky quickly between each addition of flour. I usually always leave my whole wheat dough sticky and soft if I am using a loaf pan for shape. If you make a loaf that must stay formed with out the pan support, you will need the additional strength extra flour will offer if your loaf is to stand high and hold the shape during rising and baking. Whe I make free form loaves, instead of adding extra water, I add extra oil and it helps with the finished moisture content in the bread.


Whole Wheat Tortillas: A healthier alternative to yeast breads!



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