Thursday, October 15, 2009

BBA Challenge #18: Light Wheat Bread

So I'm not going to make excuses and say that my life got in the way of blogging. Of course, from the frequency of my blogs anyone could have figured it out. I would love to be able to cook and blog every day, but alas, I have to run reports and ship packages most days, and either cook or meet friends. I know, I have it hard.

Living in Germany, though, does have its drawbacks. Although I'm extremely proficient in the language, there are some things I just can't figure out, no matter who I ask. The first is why there are no proper loaf pans here. Loaf pans run the gamut from skinny and long, for Kaiserkuchen, or wide and very long, for huge loaf breads. Which is odd, because the loaf breads that they sell at every bakery are the right width and length.

That's the thing. If you want loaf bread, you just up and go to the next bakery, and you have a loaf that usually beats anything you get in the States. Pumpkin Seed Bread, Sunflower Seed Bread, Whole Wheat with Rye, Five-to-Seven-Grain Mehrkornbrot. So there are loaf breads.

So how do the bakeries do it? Well, they don't bake with single loaf pans, but with loaf pans that are connected to one another. So you have about five or six pans welded together for easier baking. You just load them all, and then shove them as one unit into the oven.

There are, however, shops here that do sell them online, but at the cost of 15 € plus shipping, you might as well just be baking batards to use as sandwich bread.

So, if you're a the only thing you really can do is wait for a trip to some foreign land where you can walk into any kitchen store and get the things you need. Or, wait until someone visits, like our lovely friend L. and have them bring you a bunch of kitchen supplies.

It was just in time too, because as soon as I had my grubby mitts on the loaf pans, it was time to bake the first loaf bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. For this one, I used our small point and shoot to take pictures, partly as a picture challenge, and partly because I just didn't feel like bringing out the light stand and all the cables.

There's this odd recommendation in most German language bread books I have come across. When baking with whole wheat flour, they recommend using Biomehl, or organic flour, as the outside of the grain is used, and this is the part that comes in direct contact with pesticides. It's actually a bit odd to read that because there are very few whole wheat flours available that are not Bio.

I guess they figure that if you're crazy enough to be using whole wheat flour, then you must be some organic foods freak as well, so there's no point in having whole wheat that isn't organic. Or it could be that because stores that carry whole wheat tend to lean organic then it would make sense. The flour I bought, however, is from the Edeka in Tempelhof, one of the huge supermarkets, so I guess my theory is nonsense.

I- er- sort of, ran out of pre-ground sea salt for this bread, but I had some large grain sea salt so I just used that. The butter is normal Deutsche Markenbutter, and the honey is Rosemary honey that I got at La Maison du Miel in Paris. The rosemary flavor is very subtle, so I don't think I'll be using it again in bread, but, rather, just on bread.

I used to sift a lot when I baked by cups. But since graduating to weighed measurements, I rarely do it. I just sort of don't see the point, as flour will weigh the same whether it's sifted or not. Although, I have been told that it relaxes the flour and aerates it. Um, yeah. If I'm autolyzing, the both those points are moot since the water will completely absorb itself into the flour, and then relax it, no?

Unfortunately, with a simple point and shoot, you can't see how the bread looks as it is being kneaded.

I kept taking bits of dough, checking for a windowpane, but after a while, I just let it be and formed it into a rough ball, slipped it into an oiled bowl and let it rise.

When I came back after 90 minutes, the dough had risen higher than I had expected.

I laid it out and flattened into a round shape.

To form the rectangular shape I folded the rounded ends over and formed a perfect rectangle.

It looks like it will fit, but it looked odd. Maybe I should have tucked the ends down and underneath.

And into the pan. It fits perfectly.

After an hour, it rose quite a bit. The top had so much surface tension that it even tore.

I had to bring it over to the window to photograph it. Note how the ends are higher. That's from folding over the dough.

I miss photographing the undersides of bread. This loaf was actually darker than how it looks in the photo because I forgot to take the baking stone out and I just baked the loaf on the stone itself.

The required crumb shot is a bit dark. It's from all the fiddling with the camera, and because I took this picture in less than optimal light. Despite the bread being really high, the crumb was fairly tight. It was okay plain, but when it was toasted- like they say over here, "Es war der Hammer."

Now, remember the salt I used at the beginning? If you don't, then scroll up. I'll wait right here.

So, I usually add the salt after the gluten has a head-start on development, and for this bread like the others, I added the large salt at the end. However, I had a lot of trouble integrating it into the dough, even by hand. The odd thing is that it completely dissolved and there were no salty patches to be found in the finished loaf. That was a close one.

We ate this loaf within a few days and toasted every slice. It was amazing. However, with the plethora of good loaf bread around here and the amazing Oat Bran Broom Bread from Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book, I'm just not sure if I'll be making this again. Perhaps it's just too light for me.

Other Light Wheat Bread Heavyweights include:

Susie from Susies's Home and Hobbies
Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins
Cindy from Salt and Serenity
Paul from Yumarama
Oggi from I can do that!

And of course, the customary shout out to Nicole from Pinch My Salt.


  1. That is weird that you can't find proper size loaf pans in Germany. I imagine (and it is complete imagination b/c I've never been to Germany) that home-barker make more artisinal free-form loafs (or maybe they do that b/c they don't have loaf pans?). It's late and I'm rambling...anyway your loaf looks great. I've made it before I joined BBA and agree there are better whole wheat recipes out there.

  2. Looks lovely! I actually really like the kneading high speed photo. Like you, I don't know if I would continue to make it with so many heavier (for lack of better word) breads to make.

  3. I'm imagining the big production when photographing the baked breads.:-)

    I usually take pictures near the kitchen window where there's plenty of natural light. The point and shoot did a good job and you did too with the bread.

    Thanks for the shout-out.:)

  4. I love your commentary on your life in Germany! The point and shoot photos are pretty good. I agree that there are too many other wonderful breads to make before I'd make this one again.