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Generally Recognized As True: Airy and even-flavoured 100% whole wheat bread in the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 bread machine

Friday, February 27, 2009

Airy and even-flavoured 100% whole wheat bread in the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 bread machine

I've finally perfected and repeated this recipe enough times to know that it's a solid recipe now, so I'll post it here. Bear in mind that the BB-HAC10 machine is a 1 lb. machine, so makes a small loaf. Most machines are 1.5 lb. or larger. It's also a very good machine, and some aren't :)

First of all, whole wheat bread recipes seem to be somewhat dependent on the type and grind of flour used -- way more so than white bread recipes. I have had complete success with President's Choice Organics 100% whole wheat flour. I have had no success with Milanaise Organic Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread Flour. Making an educated guess, I'd say that non-organic regular whole wheat flour would work fine because the grind and consistency looks similar. I haven't had success with the Milanaise flour in any recipe at all!

Normally, I see bread machine recipes as a compromise -- speed and cleanliness in exchange for a lower-quality loaf. This recipe is the exception to that experience. I would be as happy with this loaf if it came from the oven as if it came from a bread machine. It does require a bit more work than a regular bread machine recipe, but nowhere near as much as without the machine.

The 100% whole wheat recipe in the machine's manual is not very good, in my opinion. The loaf is dense, and the flavour isn't cohesive. It's a flat taste with these uncoordinated accents that fire off all over the place and aren't that nice, to be honest.

This is based on the whole wheat technique in Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads", which really does make one of the best-tasting whole wheat loaves. It's probably better than any straight-wheat bread I've got from the bakery before, too.

You need to prepare this about 24 hours in advance. The basic technique is to prepare the "soaker" and "biga" 24 hours in advance, let them rest for 24 hours, and then combine them with a few more ingredients and start the machine.

Day before: Soaker
  • 113g whole wheat flour: as above, I used PC Organics 100% WW
  • 1/4 tsp. salt: I used unrefined grey sea salt
  • 89g milk: I used whole milk
Mix together just so that there's no loose flour in the bowl, cover with plastic, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. That's all.

Day before: Biga

  • 120g flour
  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast (aka bread machine yeast)
  • 85g tepid water (room temperature)

Mix together in a bowl until roughly combined, then wet your hands and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Re-wet your hands if the dough starts to stick (it probably will). Then, let it rest in the bowl for 5 minutes, re-wet your hands, and knead again for another minute or so. Cover the bowl with plastic and put in the fridge for 24 hours.

Baking day

  • 35g whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast (I haven't tried instant.. if you are going to try, use a bit less than 1 tsp.)
  • 21g honey: I used blueberry honey, unpasteurized
  • 9g butter
A couple of hours before baking, turn the oven up to maximum heat for about 30 seconds and then turn it off. Remove the plastic from the bowls and put them in the briefly-warmed oven for 1-2 hours. If you don't have an oven, just let them sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. The idea is to take the chill off the biga, since it had been in the fridge.

Flour the counter and pull the contents of the bowls out of the bowls and lay them down. Dust with flour and use a dough scraper to divide each piece into 6 pieces. Put them into the bread machine pan.

Add the honey near the edge of the baking pan. Cut the butter into paper-thin slices and scatter it around the edges of the dough pieces. Add the salt near the edge. Add the flour to the centre of the baking pan. Make a little well in the flour just big enough to contain the yeast, and put the yeast into the well.

Now, all you should have to do is start the regular cycle and leave it. It's not a bad idea to check it once it's kneading to make sure that none of the ingredients have stuck to the sides of the bowl. Sometimes a few little pieces of butter won't incorporate and I just wipe them onto my finger and stick them onto the dough ball while it's kneading.

That's about all. The loaf should be relatively airy (for whole wheat bread) and have a delicate crust that tastes like a good cracker. The flavours will be well-integrated, unlike with whole wheat recipes that don't have the soaker and biga.

1 comment:

Ania said...

Can't wait to try it! Just got my BBHAC10 and on my 3rd bread. Just plain white so far but its the ww that I can't wait for!

Thanks! Ania