Whole-grain bread has come a long way in recent years. No longer the dense, dry, and flavorless brick it once was, today's whole grain bread can be just as light, fluffy, and tasty as its white flour counterparts. However, baking with whole grains presents challenges for even the most experienced baker. Whole grain bread is notoriously difficult to bake because of the flour's high amount of bran and germ. These components absorb moisture and fat, making the dough tough to work with.
In addition, the gluten proteins in whole wheat flour are less developed, resulting in a less springy and resilient dough. For these reasons, bakers often have to adjust their recipes and methods when baking with whole-grain flour. Milton's healthy whole-grain bread proves that even the most challenging dough can be turned into a delicious and nutritious loaf.
Whole Wheat Flour - What is it?
There are three parts to a wheat kernel: the germ, bran, and endosperm. Almost all white flour consists of starches and proteins found in the endosperm. Baking dough with these proteins and starches gives it a lot of strength and enables it to trap gas produced by yeast, giving it volume.
You wouldn't be able to rise or hold the shape of your dough without the endosperm. The forgiving nature of white flour makes it ideal for baking. It's made entirely of the ingredients that make your dough behave as you'd like it to.
The disadvantage of baking with only the endosperm is that the germ and bran contain vitamins, minerals, fats, and fiber. All the health benefits of wheat can be found in these areas. Whole wheat flour comes in handy here. Whole kernels of wheat are ground up into flour. There is a lot of nutrition and flavor in it.
Why is Whole Grain Bread Hard to Make?
Here's some of the things that make whole-grain bread so hard to bake:
Higher in Fiber in Whole Wheat Flour
Whole grains are much higher in fiber than refined flour, and that fiber can make dough harder to work with. The bran and germ in whole grains also absorb more moisture than refined flour, making it difficult to achieve the right consistency in your dough.
And because whole grain flour doesn't contain any gluten-forming proteins, it can be difficult to get the same rise out of whole grain bread that you would from a white flour loaf.
Tips and Tricks for Whole Grain Bread
Combination of White Flour and Whole Grain Flour
- These challenges are why many bakers choose to use a combination of whole grain and white flour when baking bread. The white flour helps offset some of the difficulties associated with working with whole grain flour while allowing you to add the nutritional benefits of whole grains to your bread.
- However, if you're determined to bake 100% whole-grain bread, you can do a few things to help offset these challenges.
Combat Dryness with Fat
- One way to combat the drying effect of whole grains is to add fat to your dough. It could be in butter, oil, or even eggs. Adding fat will help to keep your dough moist and prevent it from drying out as it bakes.
- You might also want to consider adding additional liquid to your recipe. It could be milk, water, or even juice. Just be sure to add extra liquid slowly and mix thoroughly after each addition so you don't complete it like a soupy mess.
Let Dough Rest Overnight
- Another way to help combat baking difficulties with whole grains is to let your dough rest overnight before shaping and baking it. It will give the grains time to absorb moisture and soften, making them easier to work with.
- It will also give the gluten time to develop, which will help your bread rise better during baking. Just be sure to cover your dough tightly, so it doesn't dry out while it rests.
Be Patient When Baking
- Another thing to remember when baking with whole grains is to be patient. Whole grain bread will take a little longer to bake than your average bread recipe, so don't be tempted to check it often.
- Allow the bread to bake until it's golden brown, then let it cool completely before slicing and serving.
How to Make Softer Bread?
The first step is to prevent the bread from hardening, and the second is to save it once it has already hardened.
1. Recipe Selection
Remember that you should avoid recipes for bread types that result in a thick and hard crust if you want a super soft exterior.
Breads with soft crusts typically contain fat in their recipes. Several types of bread contain more fat, including brioche, ciabatta, banana bread, and sandwich buns. Our recipe for mayonnaise bread is also worth trying. The mayo keeps the crust soft, fluffy, and moist, despite what you may think.
Adding any fat will help - olive oil, sunflower oil, butter, or any other oil will add moisture. Do not make your bread soggy or oily by adding too much oil.
2. Prepare a moist and soft dough
When you knead your dough, does it become hard and dry? You won't see a difference in the crust of your bread. Your dough should be soft and moist to bake properly. You can soften the bread crust by adding oil and enough water.
The fat should be added last when kneading the dough by hand. However, too much moisture can also be an issue. When stretched, your dough should be soft and stretchy. After the oil has been kneaded in, the dough shouldn't feel wet or sticky.
3. Make sure the temperature is right
Bread makers often mistake setting the oven's temperature too high. The material will harden, char, or even burn if the temperature is too high.
It is recommended to bake bread at a moderate temperature, around 350 to 375°F, according to most recipes. Follow the recipe exactly and double-check it. You only need to follow those rules for your benefit.
It is possible that your oven's thermostat to be adjusted if it is quite old. It is always possible to use an oven thermometer instead of getting someone to fix your oven if you can't get someone to fix it.
4. Oven-check your dough
Setting the timer according to your recipe is the first step. You can achieve the best results using a stopwatch or cell phone timer when using an oven without a timer. You don't have to forget about the bread when you put it in the oven.
If you want the bread to turn out perfectly, you must constantly check its condition. As the baking process progresses, this becomes increasingly important.
Too much baking will result in a hard crust on the bread. Therefore, you must check the bread's color. A perfect loaf of bread will be brown and golden.
5. Steam the Bread
When you bake bread, steam can soften it. Some ovens have a helpful steaming option as soon as your bread is in the oven. Let it run for about ten minutes. Don't worry if you don't have this fancy option.
This trick can be done with a tray. Place the dough pan next to the boiling water in the tray, add some water to the tray, and then put it in the oven. Steam will be created in the tray, softening your crust.
Final Thoughts on Baking Whole Grain Bread
Baking with whole grains presents unique challenges that even the most experienced bakers find difficult to overcome. However, by combining whole grain and white flour, adding fat or additional liquid to your dough, and letting it rest overnight before baking, you can produce light, fluffy, and flavorful whole grain bread that everyone will love.
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