A 100% Whole Wheat Loaf, soft and pillowy Aata Bread!

So a 100% whole wheat bread, a loaf of aata bread as good as the best white bread, like really!
Whole Wheat Bread
When I got this loaf out of the oven, I all but danced with joy; absolutely soft bread with the earthy warmth of honey and the crunch from the walnuts; aha!!
I have got a decent loaf with half aata and half maida in the past, but this one was in a different league altogether. Soft and squishy and yet held its shape on slicing (My slicing skills need work, of course :P) We had some kickass tomato basil sandwiches for lunch and the whole loaf was gone. Burp!
100 percent whole wheat bread

I have been experimenting a lot with breads the last couple of weeks. The experiments have been with a sourdough starter  as well as Instant yeast, thanks to an excellent baking group I am a part of. Also, I’ve been reading a fair bit and chatting up a lot with a dear friend Pragya who blogs at Cook and Share. She has been able to bake a nice and flavorous loaf of sourdough, something I am still struggling with :/

It has been such a great learning experience!  Bread is as much about recipe as it is about technique. So, in this post I will share what I learned about technique and got excellent results with 3 recipes I have tried so far. I am sorry for the long post!

Recipe for 100% Whole wheat bread
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Mom Makes)
4 cups/500 grams Aata/whole wheat flour ( I used Aashiwaad aata)
1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten*
1 ½ tsp salt
1 1/3 cup warm water (I needed ¼ cup more to get the dough to desired consistency)
2 ½ tsp Instant yeast
5 Tbsp honey (may replace with sugar but the flavour will not be the same)
3 Tbsp butter/oil
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine all the ingredients except walnuts. Add only 1 1/3 cup of warm water at first. Mix together. Do not knead yet. It will be a rough, shaggy dough. Add more water if the dough appears too dry.  Cover and leave for 20 minutes.

Kneading the dough:  Knead till you get a somewhat smooth ball of dough. It takes 7-10 minutes. Do not over-knead. Spread the dough out and add the walnuts and incorporate into the dough. The walnuts can be added right at the beginning, but I found it difficult to knead the dough with the walnuts in and hence added them after the kneading was done.

First Proof: Rest covered in an oiled bowl till it doubles in volume. The time taken for the first proof will depend on the temperature and humidity. In muggy Mumbai, it took me only 30 minutes. (The recipe at King Arthur says two hours, but this time will depend entirely on the weather where you live)
Do the Poke test :Stick two fingers into the dough till the knuckles. If the dents remain, the dough is proofed and ready for shaping. Do not over proof.
Hundred percent Whole Wheat Bread poke test
Shaping and Second Proof : Gently deflate the dough to get the gases out. Shape into a rectangle and roll up to make a log shape. Place in a greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf tin. Leave covered for the second proof till the loaf rises an inch above the rim of the pan. Again, King Arthur asks for  a 2 hour rise  and my loaf was all nice and puffed in 40 minutes. If fact, I feel it was a tad over proofed. Next time I will check in 30 minutes. Be very careful about not over- proofing your loaf. Else it will go flat in the oven and you will end up with a brick instead of pillowy soft bread.
To check, stick a floured finger gently into the loaf. If the dent springs back quickly, the dough is not proofed yet.
If it springs back very slowly, it is the right time to get it into the oven.
If the dent remains, the dough might be over proofed. Be careful!
Hundred percent Whole Wheat Bread prep
Preheat your oven to 200C for 15 minutes. Put the loaf in and bring the temperature down to 190C. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Tent with aluminium foil halfway through to avoid over-browning the loaf. Remove from oven and brush liberally with butter.
(Source of information- Red Star Yeast)
Slice only when cooled completely. Please do not rush to slice, else the bread will be dense and gummy. To store, transfer the loaf to a paper bag. Keep the bag sealed to keep the bread fresh.

*To get a perfectly soft aata bread, you need ‘Vital Wheat Gluten’. I ordered it online from Bakersmart.co.in. They delivered within four days. It can be kept in the refrigerator/freezer for months. If you plan to bake regularly, so invest in gluten. Skipping the gluten will not give a soft loaf. I have tried several times before. If you don’t have gluten at hand, go for a half aata and half Maida bread rather than 100% aata bread)
Aata Bread

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Here is the original recipe from King Arthur Flour
1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) lukewarm water
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) olive oil
5 tablespoons (3 3/4 ounces) honey, molasses or maple syrup
4 cups (16 ounces) King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or 100% White Whole Wheat flour
1 tablespoon King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver, optional
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) sunflower seeds, chopped*
1/4 cup (1 ounce) walnuts, chopped*
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

*A quick whirl in the food processor does the job nicely.

To prepare the dough: Combine all of the ingredients, and mix them till you have a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes, then knead till fairly smooth. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, shape it into a log, and place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap (or a clear shower cap), and allow it to rise for about 2 hours, till it’s crowned about 1″ to 2″ over the rim of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking. Yield: 1 loaf.

The perfect Whole Wheat bread Loaf

Finally!! A perfect whole-wheat quick rise bread! Joy!

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I have been experimenting a lot with whole wheat breads and got good results only with the long fermentation process like this 100% whole wheat no-knead bread, whole wheat boule and paninis, or with biga like the Baguettes and herbed loaf,  but was not happy with the results I got with quick-rise loaves. They were far too dense for my taste and the boys refused to touch it.

I am a big fan of ‘The Kitchn’ and often refer to the blog for ideas and great tips. I was very happy with this half and half loaf I baked using the recipe from here. This is a very versatile recipe and allows you to go from fully APF to fully whole wheat. I go for the half and half as suggested and am very happy with the results. The honey gives it a beautiful earthy flavour.
Here is a step-by-step pictorial to help bake this wonderful loaf!

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This recipe makes one 9×5 loaf

Aata/Whole wheat flour- 1 cup+6 tbsp
Maida/All purpose flour- 1 cup+6 tbsp
Instant yeast ¾ tsp or Active dry yeast 1 tsp
Warm water- ½ cup + sugar  1 tsp (to prove the yeast)
Honey- 2 Tbsp
Milk- ½ cup (Add more warm milk or water as required to knead the dough)
Oil-1 tbsp
Salt- 1 tsp

Warm the water and add the sugar and yeast to prove it. Leave to bloom for 12-15 minutes till the mixture froths well.

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Add milk, honey and oil to the yeast mixture.

1
Add 1 cup of Maida/all purpose flour and salt to this mixture and mix with a wooden spoon/ladle.
Stir to form rough/shaggy dough.

2
Leave covered for 20 minutes so that the dough absorbs the liquid.
Add the remaining flours and knead for 10 minutes adding more water if required for kneading.
The dough is done when it
–  is smooth and slightly tacky (sticky)
–  forms a ball without sagging
–  springs back when pocked

3

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and leave covered for 1 ½ to 2 hours till the dough doubles (This is the first prove)

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Deflate the dough gently  and allow to rest for ten minutes.
Shape the dough and transfer to greased bread loaf tin. The surface of the loaf should be stretched taut.

7
Let rise again till the loaf domes over the edge of the pan. This takes about 30-40 minutes.

8
Preheat the oven at 200C for ten minutes,
Slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife and bake at 185C for 30-35 minutes till the top is nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow to tap.

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A slice topped with clotted cream is heavenly!

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This toasts well and is great with soup too.

A Caramelised Onion ,Garlic,herbed Boule and some Paninis

My weekend bake was a hearty boule with the earthy flavours of caramelized onion and garlic with herbs. Made some Tomato Basil Mozarella Paninis too. I am slowly increasing the whole wheat percentage in my bakes and with the Biga in play,I am amazed at the lightness of the bread despite the whole wheat!  Been reading The Break Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart- about the only book I am reading off late, and that is making me want to experiment with tastes and textures. This boule was a joy with its cracked crackling top.
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For the Pre-ferment (Biga)
All Purpose Flour/Maida- 1 ½ cup
Milk-  ½  cup milk
Instant yeast- 1/16 tsp
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Preferment, noun: A combination of flour, water, and sometimes yeast that is prepared in advance (as in pre-fermentation) and then mixed into the main body of the dough as an additional ingredient.
Making the Biga/Pre-ferment
The biga / pre-femented dough needs 14-16 hours to ferment. It is best to make it a night ahead of the day of baking. Mix all the ingredients listed above and knead to a soft dough. Put it in a greased bowl, cover and leave for about 16 hours (may need more time in case of cold weather). It doubles up develops large air pockets.
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All of the Biga
Whole wheat flour/Aata- 2 cups
All purpose flour/Maida- 1 ¼ cup
Yeast – 1 ¾ tsp
Sugar- 2 Tbsp
Warm water- ¾ cup (to prove the yeast)
Baking Powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Caramelised onion- 1 large, chopped and sauted in ½ tsp butter till it becomes brown
Garlic Powder- 1 tbsp (or fresh minced garlic)
Mixed herbs, fresh or dried- 1 Tbsp
Olive Oil- ¼ cup

Start with blooming the yeast. Warm ¾ cup of water and add the sugar and the yeast. The water should feel warm on the underside on your wrist. Leave covered for 10-15 minutes till the mixture froths well.
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Meanwhile, mix the flours, salt and baking powder. Add the onions, garlic powder, spices and herbs- oregano, rosemary, parsley, pepper and chili flakes. Mix well.

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Break the Biga into chunks and add to the flour. Mix everything well with a wooden spatula.
Add the warm water gradually and knead for 7-10 minutes. Add the olive oil and knead till it is incorporated into the dough.
Add the butter and knead till for another five minutes. The dough will now be supple and non-sticky.
Transfer to a greased bowl, cover it and leave for 1 and ½ – 2 hours till the dough doubles up.
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Transfer to a work surface and shape as per choice.
I made a boulle and six Panini breads.
To shape the boulle roll it with gentle hands,transfer to a round baking pan and pinch the surface to give it a little uneven top surface.

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To shape the Panini breads, simply flatten and elongate and place on a greased baking tray.

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Leave them covered for about 45 minutes till they double and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes.
Boule Panini

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I made some garlic flakes and garlic powder at home. Very handy when in a hurry and easy to sprinkle over sandwiches and curries too!
Simply roast the crushed garlic on the lowest oven temperature, flipping midway. Once completely browned, cool and store as it is in case you want flakes. Grind to get garlic powder. It does tend to bunch up but stays good for up to a month.

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To get a single loaf the following measures should work. I usually knead a big lot and make different kinds of bread.
For the Pre-ferment (Biga)
All Purpose Flour/Maida-  ¾  cup
Milk-  ¼  cup milk
Instant yeast-  a pinch

For the bread
All of the Biga
Whole wheat flour/Aata- 1 cup
All purpose flour/Maida- ½ cup and a tsp
Yeast – 1 tsp
Sugar- 1 Tbsp
Warm water- ¼  cup (to prove the yeast)
Salt – 1 tsp
I am taking this Boule and the Paninis to Angies Fiesta Friday. Fun time 😀

Whole wheat Herbed Garlic Baguettes and a Loaf

Biga Baking fever on! And I am amazed as to what a bit of dough, kneaded a day ahead, can do to the bread- such lovely nutty flavour and the texture, oh-so-wonderful! This time I decided to go whole-wheat, well at least in part 🙂
Made some garlic flakes and garlic powder at home and flavoured the bread here with that and some fresh and dried herbs. The aroma wafting from the oven made the waiting period a task! I played around-well, a lot to be honest- with the basic  ingredients and measures I had used to bake the Gibassier and baked a Herbed Garlic loaf and three baguettes.
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The recipe below bakes two  9”x5” loaves
Or 6 baguettes 6” each.

Ingredients

For the Pre-ferment (Biga)
All Purpose Flour/Maida- 1 ½ cup
Milk-  ½  cup milk
Instant yeast- 1/16 tsp

Preferment, noun: A combination of flour, water, and sometimes yeast that is prepared in advance (as in pre-fermentation) and then mixed into the main body of the dough as an additional ingredient.
Making the Biga/Pre-ferment
The biga / pre-femented dough needs 14-16 hours to ferment. It is best to make it a night ahead of the day of baking. Mix all the ingredients listed above and knead to a soft dough. Put it in a greased bowl, cover and leave for about 16 hours (may need more time in case of cold weather). It doubles up develops large air pockets.

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For the Dough
All of the Biga
Whole wheat flour 1 ½ cup
All purpose flour 1 ¾ cups
Salt- 1 tsp
Baking powder- ½ tsp
Warm water- 1 cup (to knead the dough)
All the pre-ferment/ Biga from above
Instant yeast- 1 ¾ tsp
Warm water- ¾ cup (to prove the yeast)
Sugar- 2 tsp (to prove the yeast)
Garlic Powder- 2 heaped tsp
Oregano- 1 tsp
Parsley- ½ tsp
Rosemary- ¼ tsp
Chili flakes- ½ tsp
Black pepper powder- ½ tsp
1/4 cup olive oil
Butter- 2 Tbsp

Start with blooming the yeast. Warm ¾ cup of water and add the sugar and the yeast. The water should feel warm on the underside on your wrist. Leave covered for 10-15 minutes till the mixture froths well.
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Meanwhile, mix the flours, salt and baking powder. Add the garlic powder, spices and herbs- oregano, rosemary, parsley, pepper and chili flakes. Mix well.
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Break the Biga into chunks and add to the flour. Mix everything well with a wooden spatula.
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Add the warm water gradually and knead for 7-10 minutes. Add the olive oil and knead till it is incorporated into the dough.
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Add the butter and knead till for another five minutes. The dough will now be supple and non-sticky.
Transfer to a greased bowl, cover it and leave for 1 and ½ – 2 hours till the dough doubles up.
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Transfer to a work surface and shape either as two loaves or six baguettes. I made a loaf and three baguettes.
Move the loaf to a greased loaf tin and prove for an hour till it the loaf is well risen.
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For the baguettes, shape into long cylinders with gentle hands and leave them to prove. I didn’t have the required ‘couche’ to keep the baguettes in shape during the second prove but this homespun style works great!

IMG_20140807_153949_wmI made my  homemade “couche” out of aluminium foil and cling film rolls covered with greased butter paper. Rolled kitchen towels or placemats draped with parchment paper are other choices This couche provides the required support to keep the baguettes in shape during the second prove else they would flatten .

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Preheat the oven for 15 minutes at 200C and bake for 30-35 minutes till the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
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We used the baguettes to make some cheesy bruscetta.

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A very toasted and buttered slice with tomato lentil soup was perfect too.
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Here is an excellent guide on how to shape a baguette.

Here is a closer look at the crumb 🙂 Was divine! 
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