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Wholemeal Bread

 

I have been searching for the perfect wholemeal bread recipe for as long as I have been baking bread.. don't be impressed, its not as if I don the apron and crank up the stove on a daily basis, but I have cooked a few loaves.

The Hairy Bikers is not really my cup of tea in television cooking shows, but I followed them through Northern Europe on a baking jaunt and I think a few good things emerged, one was from a German baker who showed them that a good wet bread mix not only gave a good crusty loaf if cooked in a hot oven, but produced a moist well textured loaf.

He was right.

I also consulted Delia Smith and a variety of other cooks/bakers of some renown and sort their (written or internet) recommendations. Some agreed with the German baker, some not. Some said don't knead, some said knead, some said don't over handle the bread, some said go for it and rough it up. The German and a few others said, handle it until the dough becomes silky. I found this to be the best.

Wholemeal Bread Recipe

500 grams plain wholemeal flour  (your choice)

50 grams plain white flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon yeast (just a plain granulated dry yeast - nothing added)

blood heat water (quantities as you go) Be careful not to make the water too hot, it will kill the yeast.

Place all the flour into a basin or should you wish to be brave and adventuresome, pile it on a board and in each case, make a well... in the case of the board, be sure that the well does not have imperfect sides. Into the well place the sugar salt and yeast, add to that about 3/4 cup of blood temperature water. I use a small whisk to sort of whisk the salt, sugar, yeast and some flour to make a batter like consistency, on top of this I then scatter enough of the flour mountain to cover it to a depth of about 1 cm. Allow the sponge (that’s what you have just made) to activate and this will become evident by the earthquake like splits and crevices as well as some bubbly eruptions occurring on the top of the sponge lake.

Having gone this far..

1) for the bowl users, use your hands to draw in the flour to the sponge and start to mix, it is sticky and you will get breaded hands. Add more blood temperature water to give you a wet mix. This mix should be the consistency of a cake batter. When you have it all combined, turn it out onto a floured board and using a pastry scraper or spatula, start to work the dough until it becomes silky and smooth, but not beyond that. So it should be moist and smooth. Place it back in the bowl.

2) for the brave and adventurous ones. You must use a flour scraper, and with this you use flicking motions to incorporate the flour and sponge and add more water as needed to end up with a well mixed, smooth, but not over kneaded bread dough that has the consistency of a cake batter. You may shape this and leave it on the board, but it may be too moist for that, so suggest you employ the basin from here on.

Cover the basin with a damp cloth (read tea towel) and place in a warm position to allow the bread dough to at least double in size. At this point you can do what seems to make everyone happy, sort of using your bunched fist, break the bread down and allow all the air to escape. (the technical reason for this is to 'improve' the gluten structure of the bread). Return the dough to the board and work for a short time. Note that wholemeal flour does absorb water more slowly and so the dough will have thickened up.

I baked my bread in a single loaf bread tin, so after I had lightly oiled the tin, I placed the dough in and allowed it to rise at least as much as the first rise.

Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius (the oven must be fully to heat) and when the bread has risen to the required height, carefully place in the oven and cook for about 40 - 45 minutes. You will tell that the bread is cooked by tapping it and getting a hollow sound.

Tip out from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

Mine turned out to be delicious as have the ten or so loaves I have baked since. One loaf seems to cover my breakfast needs for a week.

For those who are curious for more information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread

Good luck.