No more "modified milk ingredients"; no more "soy lecithin"; no more of the things like the following, as exist in Whole Wheat Wonder Bread:
- mono and diglycerides
- exthoxylated mono and diglycerides
- dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide)
- calcium sulfate
- yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate)
- extracts of malted barley and corn
- dicalcium phosphate
- diammonium phosphate
- calcium propionate
For the record, this is all you need to make whole wheat bread in about 4 hours:
- whole wheat flour
But, it would not be a very nice bread to the Wonder Bread palate. It would dry out quickly, be quite bitter, be quite dense, and definitely would not be soft. The Wonder Bread contains the above, but also the further above, presumably in the interest of producing a Wonder Bread crowd pleaser while accommodating an industrial production system at the same time.
What happened after I bought the bread machine, though, was that I stopped buying bread at the supermarket, and I had been buying mostly whole wheat bread at that time. After I got the machine, I tried the whole wheat recipes that came with the machine and they weren't very good. They smelled nice and the crust was decent, but the innards were dense and the taste was quite harsh. So, I stopped making whole wheat bread at some point and went back to white. So much for the "health" angle: white flour is essentially dust with synthetic vitamins added to replace the ones that were removed in order to make it white.
I tried a few options but was not all that successful. Until recently.
Not too long ago, I picked up Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book. I was still interested in getting the whole wheat thing going, and I liked his previous books, so I thought I'd give it a try. The book turned out to be great; far more for the discussion that takes place inside than the recipes themselves. I now have a decent understanding of why the above problems occurred and it gave me some ideas about how to fix them.
I've now reached a repeatably reliable recipe from which to make a tasty and soft whole wheat bread in the machine, on the regular cycle, while still using only natural ingredients. It does take some forethought and planning, though -- you need to get it ready about 24 hours before you plan to put it in the machine.
The recipe is adapted from the Reinhart book, and made with the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 bread machine.
24 hours beforehand
24 hours before you plan to start the machine, you need to get the biga and soaker ready. These are both very easy to do.
First, get two bowls out.
For the soaker, put 113 grams of whole wheat flour, 1/4 tsp. salt and 89 grams of milk into one bowl. Stir them until they're combined and all of the flour is incorporated, cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
For the biga, put 113 grams of whole wheat flour, 1/8 tsp. instant yeast, and 85 grams of tepid filtered/spring water into a bowl. Stir until combined and then knead in your hands for a few minutes (the dough is so small that you can do it right in your hands). Let it rest for 5 minutes and then do a bit more kneading with wet hands for about 1 minute more. Put the bowl in a plastic bag and put the bag in the fridge for 22 hours (24 hours is fine, too, but you need to bring it to room temperature before using it in the machine, so 2 hours out of the fridge will do this).
On bread-making day
To make the bread, use a pastry scraper to cut the soaker and biga into 6 pieces each. Drop the pieces into the bread machine pan in alternating order (add a piece of soaker, then a piece of biga, etc.). To the pan, add 1/4 tsp. salt, 7 grams of soft butter, and 21 grams of honey. Then, add 28 grams of whole wheat flour (try to add it in a mound, rather than scattered evenly). Make a small well in the mound (it will not be much of a well because there's not much flour, but you just need to keep the yeast reasonably dry). In the well, put just over 1 tsp. of instant yeast.
Now, you just have to put the pan in the bread machine and start it on the regular cycle.
So, this recipe satisfies at least two important parts of whole wheat bread making: it soaks the flour for an extended period of time, allowing more of the flavour to come out and the bitterness to subside, and it softens and moisturizes the flour to allow the dough to stretch further (making it more airy). It also adds more sweetness, and you do need more sweetness in whole wheat bread than in white because it's just what's necessary to complement the flavour of whole wheat properly.
This produces a soft whole wheat bread that is great for sandwiches and OK for toast, too. When toasted, the crust crumbles rather than crackles, so it may not be to everyone's taste for that purpose. It's still better than most industrial whole wheat bread for toast, though. If you let it cool for a few hours, it will slice very nicely with a bread knife. It also freezes well.
Compared to the whole wheat recipe that came with the Zojirushi machine, it is less bitter, more evenly flavoured, has a softer crust, a nicer texture, and is far more airy and rises better.
Here is a picture of how it looks: