Monday, February 7, 2011

Whole-Wheat Bread (Mellow Bakers: February)

This past week I made my first bread from Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread-A Baker's Book of Techiniques and Recipes".  I'm joining Mellow Bakers a little late, seeing as how they started the book in March 2010, but better late than never!  I received the book for Christmas and really wanted to start in January, but since I have neither a starter or a Pullman Pan, I decided to wait till February.

I know it's a simple bread without any fancy nuances, but I really liked the whole-wheat bread recipe found on page 122 of this book.  Since it was a very simple recipe, it gave me a chance to become familiar with JH's various techiniques, such as folding and preshaping.  Here are my two preshaped pieces of dough resting comfortably before they become loaf shapes:
The dough was really easy to work with and the only problem I had was mixing up the final dough in my stand mixer.  The dough wanted to constantly be climbing the dough hook.  I would stop the mixer, push the dough off the hook and within 20 seconds after turning the mixer back on, the dough was all the way up the hook again.  It was kind of frustrating.  I was wondering if any kneading was getting done at all, with me constantly stopping the mixer to push the dough down into the bowl.  Oh well,  we're still learning :)

For the final fermentation I shaped both pieces of dough into logs and put them into my 9X5 loaf pans.  This was to be our sandwich bread for the week.  I was puzzled that JH didn't give a lower temperature to bake at if you were using pans to bake in.  In every recipe I've made so far this year and in Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice", bread baked in a loaf pan is baked at 350, but JH said to bake this bread at 450 and that it would take 40 minutes.  Well,  I just couldn't bring myself to set the oven at 450, because I thought it was too high.  So I kept it at 425 to start with and remained squatted there in front of the oven peering in at the bread the whole time it was baking.  I turned the pans around 180 degrees after 20 minutes and the tops looked really brown!!!  I decided to put my probe thermometer into one of the loaves to check the temperature.  After 25 minutes in the oven at 425, the temperature was at 192 and climbing, so I took them out.  After depanning the loaves and putting them on a wire rack, I took a stick of butter and rubbed it across the top of both loaves to keep the crust tender.  Here they are:

I was really pleased with their shape.  These were the most symmetrical, nicely shaped loaves I've made so far.  I think I waited roughly an hour and fifteen minutes before I couldn't wait any longer to try the bread.
We had slices for dinner with butter/canola oil spread on them.  Mmmmmmmm!!

I agree with some that whole-wheat bread isn't the best title for this recipe, but I still liked the taste of the bread for what it was and when I want a 100% whole wheat bread I'll look for another recipe, but when I want something a little lighter and softer I'll go to this recipe!! 

Here is a nice close up of the crumb and texture of this bread:
Thank you for visiting my blog and hop on over to Mellow Bakers if you would like to see what others made for February!


  1. They look gorgeous, Melanie! I've found that my breads *always* bake much faster than JH's...even though I don't have problems with my oven temps. I think I baked my whole wheat in a loaf pan at 400F or 380F for about 25 or 30 minutes (wish I could remember the exact times and temps).

    Thanks for visiting my blog, and welcome to Mellow Bakers! =)

  2. Lovely loaves, I think those buttered tops look really inviting! You were right to go with your instincts too on the baking temp and times.

    All best wishes, Joanna

  3. I like honey wheat bread from the store. I am sure that your bread is better because it is lighter (and of course has no preservatives in it.