Monday, March 10, 2014

Whole Wheat Bread

  Whole wheat bread 

 I could live on a loaf of bread and some good cheese . Oh well I think I am on what is a bread-high. And why wouldn't I be, I  baked my first 100% wholewheat bread and it was 100% successful. Now I do not even have to quote sources to let people know at this day and age about the immense benefits of whole wheat bread over white bread, the media has taken care of that well enough. No matter which newspaper you read, magazine you love flipping through or television you watch the media has does a brilliant job in educating people about the benefits of wholewheat bread. So the bottom line is you stay healthy and fit. Now being a passionate food enthusiast I for one am obviously part of many a social food groups and the horror stories about working with whole wheat bread did scare me unnecessarily as I might say after my bread puffed while I kept puffing with joy.

Now I had already ventured into the delightful arena of bread-making and with the right recipe in tow there was that Cheddar Bread and Bacon garlic cheddar bread but then again those were the work of white flour. It was tasty , fluffy delicious and utterly butterly unhealthy. Now if I was not a dunderhead when it came to science I could have explained why it is more difficult to work with whole-wheat bread but after reading numerous articles, recipes etc on wholewheat bread what I understand is that wholewheat lacks something called gluten and hence the difficulty . Now some people add extra gluten on but I for one hate recipes that call for an unnecessary ingredient when there is a way of not using it , so there is no extra gluten  but what I did do was follow the ingredients of one recipe and follow my method because I had been so successful with a certain Mr.Lepard's method of baking bread.

Before we even begin lets get one thing clear. Whole-wheat bread is supposed to be denser than white bread. It is supposed to be heavy and what the commercial brown or whole wheat bread does is misguide the customer very dishonestly. If your whole-wheat bread is light fluffy know this for sure that your baker has added a good percentage of white flour so. What might have worked in my proofing could have been the weather of the country I live in. While there are numerous problems with living in a country such as India be it the non-delivery of gas cylinders , the pathetic rashes I develop during the summer months or so many other things if there is one thing that worked in my favour it was the weather which I believe helped in my proofing. Now the process I followed is a bit lengthy but if it works then what is there in a bit of patience because bread-making is one of those dishes where your actual work is minimum.

So here is the recipe

3 cups (cups which hold 250ml liquid ) whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
4 tsp fresh yeast / 2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp  honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water but not too hot else it kills the yeast . It should ideally be tepid water
2 heaped tbsp curd / unflavoured yogurt
4 to 5 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

I keep making wholewheat bread and keep playing with shape
A wholewheat sandwich loaf made at some point 

Start by dumping one cup of whole wheat on a work bowl and adding the yeast and then adding another cup of flour before adding the salt and then the final cup of flour. It seems that salt is a hindrance to the work of yeast and so many a recipe suggests either putting them side by side away from each other or layering it. Now slowly pour the warm water. It should not be hot because hot water kills yeast. Mix in the yogurt / curd . Mr.Lepard had taught me that curd makes your bread super soft and delicious and who am I to not listen to an expert.  Mix this with a wooden spoon and form a rough dough and then cover with a tea-towel and leave aside for 10 minutes .

After the 2nd kneading from the 10 minute gap regime 

Now oil your hands , oil the work board add the honey and 2 tbsp olive oil and start kneading the dough. The dough should be 'sticky but should not cling to your hands' is the golden guidance I have received from another recipe.  What I did was I did knead it for 10 minutes and then covered it and left it for another 10 to 12 minutes and kneaded it for a minute and left it for another 10 minutes covered with the tea-towel kneaded it again and finally after the last 10 minutes of resting the dough (it was covered every time it rested) I found that it  was well covered with oil from all sides, exactly what I had wanted . Now I used 1 tbsp flour to knead the bread and used 3 tbsp sesame seeds inside the dough and kneaded it , floured the work board  and put my dough in shaped it , covered it with my tea-towel and then left it to rise for about 30 minutes in the corner of my cabinet . The time needed for the last rise would largely depend on the place where you to stay, temperature, whether condition. I stay in a humid tropical country and so it takes very little time. For others in colder areas it might just take about 1 hour or 1.5 hours.

The rise of the bread 

At the end of it it was perfectly risen. I made three slashes of top to let the steam escape and sprinkled some sesame seeds on top. I preheated my oven ,  to 200C ,placed a tray of water beneath the rack on which my baking floured baking tray went (I do not own a bread pan) and baked the bread for 30 minutes turning it and baking after 20 minutes for an even baked bread. After 30 minutes i reduced the temperature to 180C and baked for another 15 minutes. Now the bread is baked by 35 minutes if using a convection oven or 30 minutes for a regular one but for those who like a nice rustic crust which is a deep hue of brown follow the lowering of temperature and baking it for another 15 minutes.

The tray of water beneath the rack helps in keeping the bread moist and soft

Once done let it cool on a wired rack for 30 minutes and do not be tempted to slice the bread before it cools down. I think this was the hardest part of the recipe. Enjoy it with some extra virgin olive oil and some grilled chicken on top or feta or grilled indian cottage cheese (paneer) or just about anything. What did I do? I rewarded myself with two slices of the fresh bread with very little just melted Emmental cheese on top.

A wholewheat boule made for a friend 

What I most love about the whole wheat bread is that it solves the problem of my tea-time accompaniment. Growing up in a household where the Darjeeling tea is a must as the start of the day and start of the evening  I but naturally grew my palate for that delightful tea sans sugar and milk but the single greatest problem would be finding a suitably healthy accompaniment. I mean sure for principle meals you can have salads, soups , wraps but then there was the problem of the tea-time partner. A thin slice of this bread warmed up with a very little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is divine.


  1. Awesome!! I want to try this soon. One clarification please, you have mentioned 3 cups whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour in your recipe. Did you mean 1/2 cup of AP or it is whole wheat only? TIA

  2. Shreya , the extra half cup is whole wheat flour for dusting the baking tray and using it when kneading and using on your hands :) You usually end up using a little less but it is always safe to have some extra ingredient when preparing a dish :)

  3. Sure..thanks for clarifying. I am a beginner in baking..hope i can make this bread..looks so good and best part 100% whole wheat.

  4. Not only are you a wonderful cook..but a great writer...loved reading this...i dont have an otg so won't be able to try it soon....will definitely bake a loaf once i buy one....:)

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