I seriously can’t believe that I’m now a month in to the course at the SFBI. Time really is flying by crazy fast.
Last week we moved on from more refined flours to the healthier, more wholesome, and some might say less fun, whole grains. But as we discovered, healthier bread doesn’t have to mean slicing into a loaf with the weight and consistency of a house brick. Over the week we used an array of new flours both in doughs and in preferments, including whole wheat, semolina, type 85 high extraction flour, rye, buckwheat and corn to name but a few.
But before we got busy, we discussed the various challenges of baking with whole grains. In comparison to more refined flours, there are two main factors to consider when working with them (again I’m simplifying and truncating things here). The first is the lower protein percentage / quality due to the presence of more bran in the flour. This equals less gluten, and therefore flatter breads as whole wheat doughs trap fermentation gases less readily. The second thing to watch out for are fermentation times. These are again affected by the higher levels of bran (also known as ‘ash content‘) in the flours. The minerals and nutrients in bran fuel enzyme activity, and that means faster and more intense fermentation, which effects a number of stages of the production process from bulk fermentation to final proof. Interesting, right? If not, you might be in the wrong place.