The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Whole Wheat Friday

with 2 comments

(from left to right:  whole wheat toast with homemade raspberry jam, butter; whole wheat toast plain with an obscene amount of butter; whole wheat toast with an embarrassing amount of honey:  I had no idea how much until after I posted the picture, and by then it was too late.) 

I’m having a difficult time — I’ll just admit it — figuring out how to get whole wheat bread to work in our house. Most whole wheat breads are, at least in my sons’ eyes, way too heavy, have too many seeds and look all wrong. But, like the juice reduction program I recently managed to institute, it’s important to all of us to enjoy and eat whole grains. My boys eat a lot of sandwiches. I’d rather they didn’t always eat them on white bread or baguette.

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for breads and bread recipes that don’t rely on too many seedy things, and yet aren’t white bread, dressed up as whole wheat with a teensy amount of wheat germ, sugar and raisins. Although Berkeley is home to many wonderful bakeries, so far I haven’t found one that makes a nice whole wheat bread — one the Tiffin Boys will eat, anyway.

This afternoon, I made two loves of bread from the encyclopedia of vegetarian cooking, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This book is huge, has a bunch of award stickers on the cover, and yet the whole wheat bread recipe is elegantly simple.

It’s also a recipe you can make wrong, and it will still turn out. How do I know that? Because I failed to follow the very clear directions. I didn’t add the flour to the sponge, but instead added it when I got around to the second step, the one where you add the rest of the flour to the dough and knead it. Despite this error, which occurred because I was nervous and excited (yeast does this to me), the bread was fine. Tiniest Tiffin ate a lot of it. Could be that any warm wheat product, slathered with enough sweet will taste okay. Still, he did give me a high five after he finished it. And then he ate mine.

Here’s what you do (not, by the way, what I did — omitting the flour in step one! Don’t you do that.)

First you make a sponge, which is basically just a mixture of the following

  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 scant tablespoon (one envelope) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk or dried buttermik
  • 1/2 cup gluten flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

You stir all that together, until it’s smooth and then you cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put it someplace warm for an hour (after an hour it should be twice its size and foamy on top).

Then, you stir the sponge down. Next, add 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour about 1/2 a cup at a time. You’ll know you’ve got enough flour when you produce what Madison calls “a shaggy, heavy dough.”

Knead this shaggy heavy dough for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add more flour if the dough will take it, a few tablespoons at a time. (I’ll admit here, that I added a LOT of flour, but that’s because I hadn’t added it in the beginning. The dough took it, let us be clear.)

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, roll it around, then cover it and set it in a warm place to rise (it will double in bulk). About 1 1/2 hours shoudl do it.

Deflate the dough, form it into loaves and place them seam side down in two greased 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 bread pans.

Cover again, and set aside until the dough rises to the edge of the pans. This should take about 45 minutes. During the last fifteen minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake until browned — 45 to 50 minutes. You’re supposed to let it cool completely before you slice it. We did not do that. It was okay. Given all the other directions I failed to follow, this seemed like the least of my problems.

I’ll make this again, and follow the directions. If I do, I’m pretty sure it will be really great, rather than simply decent.  I’ll report back if and when that turns out to be the case.

Written by bloglily

September 29, 2006 at 5:41 pm

Posted in baking, bread, Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Bob’s Red Mill makes organic white whole wheat flour. It’s whole wheat flour that’s ground extra fine and is a great compromise for people not used to eating whole wheat flour. In fact, I can substitue half the white flour for this in pancakes and bisquits and my kids don’t even notice. You can get it at whole foods or other specialty markets or Try it, it’s really good.


    September 29, 2006 at 5:54 pm

  2. Hello helen — Thanks for the great suggestion. I made these with King Arthur’s whole wheat white, a similar product. When I run out of King Arthur, I’ll give it a try. And thanks for visiting. –BL


    September 29, 2006 at 10:12 pm

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