On the menu for Week 5:  Whole Wheat Bread, Six Grain Bread and Bagels.

The Art of Bread

I was intrigued by this class because we were preparing Whole Wheat Bread and Six Grain Bread, loaves which both require the use of whole wheat flour. To be honest, I’ve hardly ever used whole wheat flour at home. While we eat bread with whole grains on an almost daily basis, we buy them from our favourite bakery. Our instructor explained that whole wheat flour is made of the entire grain (the endosperm, the germ and the bran). While I never imagined that I would be baking and trying to figure out what an endosperm is at the same time, it was interesting to learn about a type of flour that I know very little about.

The other ingredient that was new to me was part of the recipe for the whole wheat bread:  vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is an all-natural gluten booster. It comes in handy when baking with flours such as rye and whole wheat. Breads made with these flours tend to be denser, without as much gluten as breads made with bread flour. The vital wheat gluten helps these dense breads develop more of that all-important gluten power.

The dough for the Whole Wheat Bread consisted of yeast, water, whole wheat flour, bread flour, sugar, salt, milk powder, molasses, vital wheat gluten and shortening. After mixing and kneading the dough, we let it rest for 20 minutes. We then divided our dough, shaped it and let it rest for another 10 minutes. After putting the bread in tins, it went off to the proofer and then to the oven.

The end result was a nicely browned loaf that was light with a nice nutty flavour. While Whole Wheat Bread isn’t my favourite, I was really pleased with this loaf, in particular with how I shaped it before it went into the tin. I think I’m getting the hang of some of the shaping techniques and it was a pleasure to see how well these loaves turned out.

For me, though, the star of the class was the Six Grain Bread. The dough for these loaves consisted of yeast, water, bread flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, shortening, milk powder, molasses and six grain cereal. Our instructor explained that we could buy any six grain mix from a supermarket or health food store.

After mixing the dough, we let it rest for 20 minutes. We then divided it, shaped it and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Unlike the Whole Wheat Bread, we baked the Six Grain Bread free-form. Once proofed, the bread was baked for about half an hour. Beautiful, round, crusty loaves emerged from the ovens and I was thrilled! I loved the flavour of this bread. I loved the crust and I loved the texture, which was firm enough to use for sandwiches. This is one to definitely try again!

Breakfast Breads

Two weeks ago there was no class due to the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Class resumed last week Bagels_004 with a lesson in bagels. Almost everyone I know has an opinion on bagels: who makes the best bagels in Toronto, should you boil them, how much salt should you add … the list goes on and on.

We began by mixing a basic bagel dough, which we let rest for half an hour. As soon as the dough had rested, we divided it into 100 gram portions and began shaping our bagels by first rolling the dough into little balls, flattening them slightly, poking a hole in the middle and then using our fingers to widen the hole. Our instructor demonstrated another method of forming bagels that involved rolling the dough into a rope, joining the rope and then sealing the bagel where the two ends were joined. I found this method challenging so opted for the first method.

We had to work quickly to avoid letting the dough dry out. Once our bagels were formed we dipped them in slightly salted water that was simmering. As soon as the bagels floated to the top, we removed them and then topped them. I dipped some of my bagels in poppy seeds, some in sesame seeds and I topped the rest with cheddar cheese.

The bagels were okay, but I found them to be a bit on the salty side. While it was fun making them, the flavour and texture didn’t come close to the bagels I can buy in some of Toronto’s best bagel shops. I enjoyed the experience, but don’t really see myself making bagels at home.

That’s it for this week!


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