For Craig Kominiak’s Whole Wheat Loaves, I was again splitting time between Marin and Southern California. Though I actually made the dough and baked the bread on time, travel and a full calendar delayed my write-up until Thursday. Yet a Thursday With Dorie is still TWD! You can see the other bakers’ whole wheat bread efforts here. This week’s recipe is hosted by Michele from Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together. Visit either or both of their blogs for the full recipe.
This is my first attempt making a whole wheat bread. As I suspect is true for many, whole wheat bread was not my favorite growing up; all the same I didn’t enjoy super-soft and nearly flavorless WonderBread either. As a foundation of a good sandwich, I prefer bread with a good chew and enough structure to stand up to whatever Dagwoodian assortment of ingredients can be piled on top. I’ve also come to prefer the flavor of a good wheat or partially wheat bread in many instances.
Ingredient-wise I was helped out this week via a gift of flour from two friends, Chris and Traci. They’ve helped me out immensely by taking portions of my desserts and baked goods off my hands this year. Chris dropped off a small bag of King Arthur Wheat Flour last month. Early on I decided not to purchase Barley Malt syrup. It seems a 8 oz bottle is about the smallest quantity available. At 1 tablespoon for two loaves of bread, I decided to pass. Instead I substituted 1 tablespoon of Steen’s Cane Syrup, a product similar to dark corn syrup, though with some of the complex flavor of molasses. Incidentally, Steen’s makes for a very traditional Pecan Pie, albeit a darker, stronger tasting pie than one made with corn syrup.
Mixing the dough was fairly routine. In addition to King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, I used up the remainder of a bag of KA Bread flour, needing an additional cup of all-purpose flour to reach the required 3 1/2 cups white flour. Since making Oasis Naan earlier this year, I’ve taken to kneading bread dough by hand . The experience is a good stress reliever as well as a relaxing bit of therapy for hands and wrists. After 4 or 5 minutes in a stand mixer, I pulled the dough from the mixer bowl and gave it an additional 8-10 minutes of hand work. Then it was into a buttered bowl and off to rise in a 80-ish oven, while I took in a Friday night restorative yoga class.
After nearly three hours, the dough had risen nicely; the extended rising time contributed a slight beery smell. As it was getting late, I deflated the dough and threw it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I took the dough out to warm to room temperature before shaping the dough and placing it in two loaf pans.
I baked the bread for about 25 minutes before removing the loaves from their pans and given them for an additional 10 minutes of oven time. I took them out to cool, however my moment-read thermometer — it can 20-30 seconds to settle on a temperature — was only reading around 180 degrees, so both loaves went back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
One loaf got wrapped in foil and frozen; the second loaf traveled with me to Southern California on Monday. I used the first slices for toasted cheese slices that night, followed by Tuna sandwiches: for my parents on Tuesday, for myself on Wednesday. In both cases the bread was toasted or warmed which helps bring back some of the bread’s moisture.
Flavor was decent; the texture was a bit drier than I’d like, though I’d attribute some of that to not eating the bread until 2 days after baking it. Still, I can’t say for sure when I’ll make this bread again. I have a hard enough time finishing one loaf of bread, much less two. While this loaf was good for a sandwich, it wouldn’t fit my bill for something sweet in the morning like French toast, or even a simple spread of jam or preserves.