Wholemeal bread means different things to different people.
Most commercially produced wholemeal is made with a percentage of wholemeal and quite a few other ingredients.
It is quite hard work to find out what a “wholemeal” loaf actually contains, a lot of online information on the breads will give the nutritional break down but not the full list or proportions of ingredients. I did manage to find this ingredients list on one popular brand. Wholemeal Wheat Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt, Vegetable Oil (Rapeseed, Sustainable Palm), Wheat Gluten, Emulsifiers: E471, E481, E472e, Soya Flour, Preservative: Calcium Propionate, Flour Treatment Agent: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
The role of the wheat gluten, vegetable oil, emulsifiers and soya flour is all about giving the
bread the lighter texture that many people have learned to expect in their breads.
When I began making breads for the farmers markets, I quickly encountered bread squeezers, who decide if they are likely to enjoy a bread by seeing if they can squeeze it. This is interestingly a habit that can be traced back to the advertising that was created for Mother’s pride when it was launched in the 1960s.
Tastes have changed a lot in the last few years, and I find that many people now accept that a lot of hand made breads have qualities that squeezing them will not reveal. A lot of people now actively look for the sour dough wholemeal and granary breads that I have developed.
Not everyone likes sour dough, and the sour doughs do still contain a proportion of white flour, but everyone is becoming a lot more conscious of the need to eat as healthily as possible, so I decided it was time to try out a 100% wholemeal recipe that I have been aware of for some time.
There are a number of different elements to this bread. The flour is 100% wholemeal. Some of this is soaked over night, and there is a poolish which involves an overnight starter dough of wholemeal flour, water and a small amount of fresh yeast. Both of these are about making sure that some of the flour has absorbed a lot of water, which will make the bread softer and hold moisture. The soaker and poolish are then mixed with the rest of the wholemeal flour, water, vegetable oil, eggs, a small amount of honey, fresh yeast and salt.
The bread is cooked longer and slightly more slowly than most of my breads, which it needs to even out the moisture levels throughout the loaf.
So what did I get?
· Firm crust
· A moist and fairly even crumb
· I can’t calculate how much fibre is in the bread – but it is a lot!
· Slices well – and will cope with quite thin slices
· The taste is quite strong (malty?)– because of the high level of bran in the flour. (If you like pumpernickel or other rye breads then this will suit you)
· Will work best with savoury toppings.
· Seems to be pretty satisfying. I am writing this 5 hours after breakfast, when I ate 2 small slices, with a little cream cheese and salmon. So far I haven’t felt the need for a snack.