Brown Bread (Jeffrey Hamelman’s Whole Wheat)

Whole wheat Jeffrey HamelmanI’m going to start by being pernickety. This bread, and the two variations in this section of Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, are confusingly called Whole Wheat breads.  They are in fact made with 50% wholegrain flour and 50 % strong white bread flour. In England the term wholemeal is used to describe a bread made only with wholegrain flour and it is one of the few bread names that is covered by legislation.

Here this bread would be called maybe light wheaten bread, or in an old fashioned sort of way, simply ‘Brown Bread’ and that is what I am going to call it in this post.

Whole wheat brown breadMy next pernickety moment concerns Swiss Dark Flour.  This is a lovely flour produced by Shipton Mill, but what is it exactly? Well, it’s not quite clear. I asked last time I was there and was told that it was wheat, but not much more.

A look at their website yields the following :

I first discovered Swiss Dark Flour when visiting the small alpine village of Saas Fee. To find out how the bakers made such delicious breads, I…

…visited the family mill at Brig where Mr Augsberger, whose family had been milling the flour for three generations, patiently taught us how to produce flour Swiss style! We are still learning. But in Switzerland wheat is still grown on the high alpine terraces and harvested by hand, then delivered to the mill in parcels as small as 500 kilos!

So now you know as much as me. Is it flour milled in a Swiss style, or is it imported Swiss flour? They’re not telling. I think it is the former, what do you think?

Anyway it is a very good flour, quite fine and without the large pieces of bran that you find in traditional English stone ground organic wholemeal.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that maybe the loaves I made aren’t even 50% wholemeal, because if the SDF isn’t 100% wholemeal then… anyway you see where I’m going and it’s a bit boring so I’ll stop.

até fermentéeThe recipe uses a paté fermentée made with just white flour, and then you are supposed to mix it up with the white and the dark flour. Now, when I’ve done this before, I’ve ended up with light patches in the crumb where the all white pate fermentée hasn’t quite blended in.

I probably don’t mix my doughs quite long enough, but this time I thought I’d mix all the flours together first and then take out what I needed for the pre-ferment and then they would all be in the same proportion and it worked very well! I don’t know why Jeffrey Hamelman doesn’t write the recipe that way in the first place either. Questions, questions.

whole wheat bread

So to summarise, nice brown bread, hint of honey, makes you feel a bit more virtuous than if you are eating white bread all the time.  That’s about it. There are two more of these to make, one with currants and hazelnuts, and one with a grain soaker.

Do visit the Mellow Bakers site to see what the others are doing with this bread, there’s lots of variations and join in if you fancy having a go.

Here’s Melanie’s currant and hazelnut whole wheat bread and here is Abby’s multigrain one to whet your appetites!

38 thoughts on “Brown Bread (Jeffrey Hamelman’s Whole Wheat)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Brown Bread (Jeffrey Hamelman’s Whole Wheat) | Zeb Bakes --

  2. drfugawe

    Wow – that loaf in the 2nd pic has two scores! Did you give it a 2nd score halfway through the bake? Or is that a natural score?

    Whatever, it’s pretty. Very nice loaf.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I’m trying to get the elusive ‘ear’ on these loaves, so I angle the blade when I slash and hope that it will look like a posh loaf, it didn’t quite work on this one but I will get there one of these days….. :)

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          What hasn’t worked Brydie? :) Sorry, I didn’t realise where the comment came in the sequence when I saw it on my email. Here we go… . Ze Elusive Ear… dip the blade in water before you slash, for single line, slash at 30 degree angle to dough surface , straight line but slightly to one side of the centre, you are trying to create a flap of dough. Like opening an envelope with a knife…. The best ones I ever did were on doughs with bits in for some reason….maybe because the dough is firmer? Just think how many a pro baker does in one session and then repeats over and over again for days and weeks and years, and how many do we get to practise on? You’ll get there – probably sooner than me :) Also the tighter you have shaped the dough, the more likely it is to just open elegantly along that score…. it’s a bit like that moment when you find your balance on the unicycle… and then can never do it again…

          1. cityhippyfarmgirl

            Yep I’m doing it on the angle and it goes in ok (this is where I pretend I’m a surgeon) looks fine but doesn’t get that ‘handle’ I’m after… I’ll play with a tighter outside…
            Thanks Joanna.

            1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

              Hey Brydie, I thought you probably knew how to… I suspect some people put their bread in a bit earlier too, as you get bigger spring and cut opening if the bread is underproved, but then if it is too underproved it bursts on the sides as well. Another thing to try is using some very strong/higher gluten flour mixed in, and Nils experimented one time with ‘painting’ water in the cuts, taking the bread in and out of the oven in the first part of the bake… xx

  3. Chocveg

    Hi, this is an opportune posting! I made the one with the multigrain soaker this weekend. I used @ 150g starter as well as what’s in the recipe, and had the same problem of the pate fermentee AND the starter not mixing in properly! Tastes good tho and will see how long it keeps. Will try to post some pics on Mellow Bakers later in the week! Yours has a much lighter crumb than mine!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Chocveg – all those formula with stiff starters and preferments have potential mixing problems, thinking about it, in a commercial bakery you probably make one big batch of a white preferment and then use it in different formulae, but there’s no need to do that at home. The other thing I do is loosen the stiff starter with some of the liquid in the recipe first, I rarely add it in ‘chunks’ any more as JH describes.

  4. Abby

    I think your loaf looks just beautiful, Joanna! I love the color. Kind of makes me want to try the plain (non)whole wheat version. And thanks for the shout-out…you are so sweet!

  5. heidi

    I’d love a piece toasted with orange marmalade, please.
    I have a batch of peasant bread raising overnight- maybe I’ll just have that, instead.
    Your bread is always so lovely, Joanna.

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    That last photo has a lovely light crumb! It doesn’t look at all like brown bread, or at least not brown bread as I know it. I get so confused by flour as well – for example, I have no idea what sharps are, but I used to see bags of “flour sharps” for sale. I wish all these millers would label things in ways that plebs like me could interpret.. :)

  7. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Hello lovely blog friends – sorry haven’t posted much lately, had a week off baking, but I’ve been keeping up with what you’ve been doing.

    Heidi I’ll swap you bread any time, I love your baking adventures :)

    Hi Bagni, back in Europe – taking beautiful photographs – you take them everywhere you go and I do enjoy them :)

    ‘Morning Celia, I know it came out very light, which makes me think that the Swiss Dark isn’t really very dark at all…. Flour ‘sharps’ is a new one on me too! The language/labelling challenge is all part of the ‘fun’ of cooking though, isn’t it? ;) Love your In the Kitchen post this month !

  8. Jeannette

    Your bread looks lovely, Joanna! Another one for me to add to my list to try. Do you get your flour by mail order from Shipton Mill? We called there last year on our way back from our daughter’s home in Devon, I bought a variety of flours from there but should have got more of the basics, white bread flour and wholemeal. Soon went through them!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I have done mail order and been over there a few times. Their Bakers no 1 is pretty good. I tend to get my everyday bread flour from Waitrose, use their Organic strong white and their Very strong white when I run out of the white flours, but the rye I usually get from Shipton Mill and other flours, like T55. And bits of flours from here and there, some from a German friend, and so on. Whereabouts are you based? Maybe there is a local mill/outlet near you Jeanette?

  9. Jeannette

    I am in N.Wales, Wrexham to be precise. I can get most flours but there isn’t a Waitrose near here so I haven’t tried theirs yet. I do most of my shopping at Asda and the flour they seem to stock is their own label which I don’t buy, or Allinson’s, which I do buy from time to time. I have thought of making an order from Shipton Mill but not sure whether I would notice a big difference in my bread. What do you think? I would be interested in your opinion if you have the time to give it.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Sure I have! :) There’s Bacheldre Mill and Llynon Mill in Wales, I haven’t been to either but there are some North Wales bakers who tweet who use their flour regularly. Bacheldre Mill sells through Waitrose, it would be ironic if I can get their flour here in Bristol but you can’t buy it locally in Wales….

      Mmm Doves is pretty good flour, Allinsons is OK but some people have reported problems making sourdough with it. I wrote a post here about comparing flours, it’s very hard to do! I’ve never tried Asda’s own brand either. I stay away from the cheapest ones, just because flour (apart from spelt!) isn’t that expensive.

      If you bake a lot, or are planning to, then it might be worth ordering a sack from one of the mills, but if you are like me then you have to store it somewhere. Shipton Mill do free postage with an order of £26 I think. So if you have a cool garage, it might be worth ordering from them if you like their flour. I guess it depends what you are baking as well.

      It’s worth getting hold of some very strong flour (high in gluten) and seeing the effect that has on a loaf. It does however make the bread a bit chewier and some people find it less digestible. What sort of bread do you want to make? The things that made a difference to my baking when I started were: using steam in the oven, getting a bit better at shaping the bread over time, and at handling the dough generally.

      Are you going to come to Mick’s bake event in July in North Wales? The last two have been lovely, such nice people, I learnt so much doing that. Not scary at all. Well apart from Mick’s eyebrows ;)

      (i’ve just put some paragraph breaks in here)

  10. Jeannette

    Thanks, Joanna, I appreciate your views. I have a long way to go to catch up but I’m getting there and reading and practising as much as I can. I will think about the baking event, I know it is not too far for me to travel, it would be nice to meet up!

  11. Amanda

    Joanna, I’m with Celia – this doesn’t look brown at all, but it does look wonderful.
    And I suspect that all feelings of virtuousness (is that a word?? Whew, just checked & it is. )would disappear for me as soon as I smothered it in fresh butter!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Ok I give in – I’ll call it beige or taupe or something else…. ;) Fawn bread maybe, shy and retiring….

      Here’s another pic of same, it was a gloomy evening when I took these – it’s very nice toasted with labneh and marmalade :)

      Beige bread

  12. Melanie Corley

    Yes, your bread is beautiful!!! The crumb looks a little more open than mine. Very nice. It does look white, but that’s probably just the lighting in the picture.

    What does a proper ear look like? I’ve never heard of trying to acquire that look on a loaf.

    You sure do have alot of mills around there it seems. I’ve just discovered that there is one near me, Weisenberger Mills, that carries a high-gluten (14%) unbleached bread flour that I want to get to try in some of my breads. They also carry cracked wheat which I hadn’t been able to find in stores.

    Thank you so much for posting a link to my bread in your post!!! I was very surprised.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      An ear or a’ grigne’ (as it’s called in French baking) is when the bread opens along the slash line and there’s a sort of handle or lip to the bread on one side of the’s caused by the angle of the blade when you slash the dough example of grigne this is a slightly better one on a bread I made recently. It’s not essential, just quite fun when it happens ;) if one starts getting obsessive about bread baking, you just kind of want to do what other people do, just to see if you can.

      How brilliant to find a mill near by, I would jump on that bread flour, it sounds very promising indeed! It was my pleasure to post a link to your lovely post! I hope lots of people came and read it.

  13. sallybr

    Absolutely gorgeous loaf of bread, the slashing came out like a masterpiece!

    Made me tempted to try it, but maybe I should wait for better “baking conditions”

  14. Matt

    Hi, Joanna, I live in Switzerland and suspect that the Shipton Mill Swiss Dark is probably similar to what is known here as ‘half-white’ flour – it’s used for most of the big, crusty country breads. Fortunately, the packets of flour I buy here give proportions on the packaging – the ‘half-white’ has most of the germ and bran removed, leaving about 2%, and yes, it is pretty finely ground so you don’t see any dark flecks in the flour. So, if my hunch is right, that could be why brown bread isn’t really that brown! The beige does look very appetising, though.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi and thanks for that Matt! I bet your hunch is right. Interestingly a couple of years ago I baked with a flour produced by Maud Foster mill in Lincolnshire at Rick’s baking event and that was something like 70% and had a completely different texture again, fine but gritty to the touch. I think I might bake one of the other ones in the set, probably the one with the multi grain soaker and I will use some full stoneground wholelmeal and we’ll see how different it is. The art of the miler is not one I know much about :)

      Shipton Mill, for a bakery that supplies all sorts of people, is very coy on revealing much about the contents of their flours to retail consumers like me. I once asked which of their white flours had the highest protein levels and why they didn’t give out that information. I was given a curious answer, something on the lines of, well it varies from batch to batch and if we list it then we have to keep to it, but when professional bakers ask us for a particular sort of flour we supply it. I didn’t write it down, so don’t take this as verbatim anyone. They did tell me which it was at the time, but I can’t remember now… I think their no 4 flour had the lowest level…

      1. Matt

        I come from Glos originally, near Bourton-on-the-Water, and so have definitely heard of Shipton Mill… I asked my Dad to pick me up some Shipton flour at the coop (he had said they stocked it) when I was last at my parents’, and it actually turned out to be ‘Cotswold Flour’ from FWP Matthews in Shipton-under-Wychwood, just over the Oxfordshire border. Wow. A pain au levain, made with their Cotswold Bakers’ White and Cotswold Farmhouse Wholemeal and given a long, cold rise, made an astounding loaf – beautifully nutty and moreish. To be recommended!
        I still haven’t used Shipton Mill flour, though…

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Now why did you do that to me. I’ve just visited the Matthews site and am sitting here drooling over their list of French flour mixes. I wish they did a variety pack of those. No way can I get through 25 kg of campaillou! I’ve never seen their brand in a shop here, but I will investigate further – thanks Matt!

  15. acidman

    That is a gorgeous loaf. Any recommendations on a recipe that uses more than 50% whole wheat flour (I’m aiming for the 75-80% range, but perhaps there’s a good one made with entire whole meal flour).

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hello there, I had to re-read this post as it was a long time ago I wrote it. You could probably just substitute the quantity of whole wheat flour you want to use into this recipe if you want to use a pate fermentée method, maybe, if you are not averse to it, add a pinch of Vit C powder in with the flour as Dan Lepard recommends and you could try this wholemeal flour recipe based on his at the bottom of the Guardian article by Felicity Cloake on baking wholemeal bread. It’s a good read too. Here’s the link:

      Otherwise explore recipes like the Miche recipes in Hamelman’s book Bread which have a high percentage of wholewheat flours in them if you have the book. Hope this helps!

  16. Rosemary Potter (@JuliaBalbilla)

    I think the Swiss dark is milled by Shipton using Swiss methods. Yes, it is wheat and is possibly what is known as Ruchmehl (quite a high extraction rate with a quantity of bran), but don’t quote me on that!

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