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Dan Lepard’s Wholemeal Bread

This week is the wholemeal bread challenge from Short & Sweet. You can find Felicity Cloake’s version of this recipe here on the Guardian website in which she explored different ways of approaching the wholemeal loaf and ended up liking Dan’s the best.

I made two different loaves this time; Dan helpfully writes up the recipe saying it is a starting point to finding the loaf you are happy with.

Once you have had a go at the basic one, you can move on to exciting variations like ale and spelt and unleash the creativity of your inner bread baker! I know you have one in you or you wouldn’t be reading this!

I can eat 100% rye with great delight but something about too much wheat bran gives me indigestion. English stoneground wheat is always full of huge flakes of bran and I would rather have a finer milled German style whole wheat, though it seems almost impossible to buy here in the UK. Presumably any whole grain flour will give you dietary fibre, so you could use spelt, kamut, einkorn or emmer all possibilities for getting that fibre content into your daily bread.

I went for a 50/50 blend of wholemeal and white in one of these loaves and of 50/50 kamut and white in the other. These breads don’t use milk, but they do use butter which improves the keeping qualities of the bread and is very traditional in English loaves.

I used regular sugar in both as per the recipe and for my money that was a mistake as I have got used to using spraymalt to sweeten Brian’s white breads and I should have used that in these. The taste of regular sugar is too much for me in bread like this, though I imagine it is there to mask the slight bitterness of the wholemeal. I wonder if apple concentrate would be nice?  It’s all about personal taste, so do vary recipes to suit your palate and experiment with sweeteners if you use them. Spraymalt is particularly nice, comes in lots of varieties, fascinating to read about it on the Muntons site.  It is fairly easy to get hold of if you have a local brewing shop or from online beer making sites and I think Bakery Bits sells it too.

The contrast in the doughs was quite marked. Dough 1 was sedate and quiet, whereas  Dough 2 with the kamut was soft and bouncy and increased quickly in volume. Despite being a high protein flour, its gluten is very different from that of regular wheat and the surface of the dough pocketed and opened up quite a lot, giving a rugged rustic quality to the finished loaf. I couldn’t get it to form a smooth sheath at all on shaping. It also sprang dramatically in the oven unlike the wheat one which rose a bit but didn’t do anything very exciting.

Both loaves make light sweet bread, easy for toast, very English in style. Not quite my thing but I am sure the sort of bread that pleases many people. it’s a very easy recipe for beginners to follow too, watch the timings, handle the dough gently, if you are not sure about shaping it use a tin which you butter and dust with flour and you’ll be fine.

For a forthright discussion about the role of fibre in our diets and the ramifications for children’s health in particular read Lou’s  post on Please Do Not Feed the Animals.

For the round up post for last week’s sweetie extravaganza and some fascinating links click here and have a peek at the other round ups for the Shortandtweet group. Join in any time you feel like it, all welcome!

Edit: 

Just thought I’d add a few links to other bread posts which incorporate wholemeal flour but are very different from this one….

For a sourdough bread using mainly wholemeal have a look at this old post of mine from the Mellow Bakers project with the grand name of Miche Pointe-a-Calliere. Another very good bread is this Rustic Bread which uses a mix of flours, including wholemeal to produce a very pleasing loaf and in which I incorporated some left yoghurt whey.

 Another very popular bread that uses wholemeal flour is Dan Lepard’s Golspie Loaf, one of the star breads in the Hand Made Loaf. This is one I make regularly for my neighbour who is a big wholemeal fan. There is a picture of it in this little slideshow post.