May 25, 2009

Experimenting with White Wheat Flour

It took some doin', and several failed attempts, but I did some researching and experimenting and finally came up with a healthier white-wheat bread that didn't taste like, or have the texture of, well....cardboard. Although personally, I've never munched on cardboard, nor have I toasted it, I'm just sayin'....

Now this is not a "true" whole wheat bread, but rather a hybrid of sorts (half white bread flour, half white wheat flour), but even still, healthier and tastier than store bought white bread and lighter, better texture and holds together better than a whole wheat bread. Don't get me wrong, I luv me some dark brown, hearty, nutty whole wheat bread, but that's not what I was looking for this time. I just wanted to try out some healthier choices and use up that white wheat flour that's been sitting in my fridge since the previous failed attempts.

The first attempt as mentioned, failed miserably. I tried to use my traditional white yeast bread recipe and just swap out ALL of the bread flour for the white wheat flour. Well, to be honest, it was indicative of the aforementioned feared "healthy" bread. It was heavy, tasteless, and reminiscent of, you guessed it, cardboard. The white wheat flour, contrary to popular belief, doesn't "behave" like white flour but more like whole wheat flour (duh, right) only without all of the yummy flavor and texture that a "red wheat" flour has. So you can't just swap it out in a recipe and just expect it to be/act/taste the same...ain't gonna happen.

It didn't take long to find that others on the same mission were having difficulty adjusting their recipes as well. In fact, it's common for bakers to use bread conditioners in order to achieve the texture of store bought bread. Yes, yes, I knew that, but there are bread gurus out there that know much more about the subject than I, and frankly, I don't have the time to get all into it right now, so I'll leave that to the experts. Besides, it makes no sense to me to add a bunch of chemicals and additives that you are avoiding in the first place, right? However, if you're so here.

Ok, so then I did even more researching and read stuff here and there about natural bread conditioners. Although I found some recipes requiring powdered milk, I usually only tend to add milk (and eggs) to my sweet doughs, I decided to go ahead and replace some of the water with milk. Hindsite, I could have probably replaced most of the water for milk (perhaps, 1/2 C water and 1 3/4 C milk, I did only use 2% afterall), but oh well, it is what it is. Next, I decided to swap out the sugar for honey (healthier carbs ya know) and swap out olive oil for the shortening (healthier fat ya know) and finally, I lowered the salt as much as I thought I could without inhibiting the rise. (healthier for the heart ya know)

Heart Healthy White Wheat Bread

1 ¾ C Very warm water (110 degrees F)
½ C low fat milk (1 or 2%) also warm
2 pkgs ( 4 ½ tsp) Active dry yeast (not fast acting)
3 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 ½ tsp Salt
2 C White Wheat Flour
3 ½ - 4 C Bread Flour (high gluten)
Drizzle of olive oil for bowl

The directions for mixing and rising are pretty much the same for my traditional white yeast bread, so I won't bore you with all of that again. However, I did find that you may have to increase the rise time, on both the first and second rise.

In addition, I decided since I planned on using this for toast, toasted sammies and/or brandied french toast, I'd make it in the traditional loaf style, which I hadn't done in quite some time for yeast bread. Sooooo, after the first rise, punch it down (ok, gently people, it's not your ex's face) Now it's time to shape the loaves.

For making traditional 4 x 9 loaf pans; divide dough in half. (Keep one half covered while working the other) Flatten one half with hands or rolling pin into a rectangle that is about 10 x 8. Beginning at the 10-inch side, roll dough up into a fat log. Pinch all along long the edge to seal. Pinch each end to seal. Fold ends under loaf and lightly pinch, attaching them to the bottoms. Place seam side down in a greased pan. Repeat with other half of dough, making 2nd loaf.

Cover with a lightweight clean towel and let rise in warm place 40 to 50 minutes or until double in size. Preheat your oven to 350F. (a good 20 min ahead)

Place loaf pans in center of hot oven. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Personally, I prefer this tap method, it's what I grew up on and how I was taught. However, if you're new to baking bread, or you're just not sure, tip loaf out of pan onto a towel as you hold it. With your other hand, use an instant read thermometer, and stick it into the bottom of the loaf. The temp should be around 190-200F. If the loaves are not quite to temp but browning too quickly, you can tent them with aluminum foil.

Ah, look at that beautiful bottom!
When done, remove bread from pans to wire rack. Allow to cool away from draft. Then cut using a sharp serrated knife. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep fresh.

So now, you're probably wondering......

Is it really healthier or worth it? somewhat. Did it taste good? mmmm, just ok by itself, better as toast, even better for a sandwich, but I did use it for my brandied french toast and it was awesome! Would I want to eat only this instead of my fluffy white traditional bread? probably not. But honestly, if I had diet restrictions, or really wanted or needed to eat a "healthy" white bread, this would fit the bill.

Will my fat ass will be slathering on some strawberry jam sooner or later anyway? probably YES. (oh yeah, and how healthy is that Jiff peanut butter anyway? 'cuz oh baby, that's gonna happen) Alright, alright, I know, I went through all of that trouble to make a "healthier version"...Maybe I should use that healthy heart buttah I've got stuck in the back of the fridge. (baby steps)

By the way, my next post, will be probably be about the strawberry jam I just put up today ;) (LOL, ok, not kidding!)


Donna-FFW said...

Hahahaha.. my ass would be slathering both butter and jam on these gorgeous loaves:)

ImStuffed said...

mmmm.....bread!!! I think I need those since the loaf I made yesterday is all but gone. Those are beautiful loafs my dear. Can't wait to see you canned jam. :)

Anonymous said...

yummm that looks good Mom!

Culinary Alchemist said...

That is some beautiful bread, DD!!!

My stomach is growling with the thought of a slice of cheddar between to warm slices, sans mayonnaise... So it's just slightly melty.. OH God! I am starving!!!!!