Brown bread reminds me of
less happy times. I’ve alluded to this before on my first ever post and, in general, I do not bake the stuff for my own consumption. Deeply seated aversion it would seem. Exceptions have been known but I see a whole wheat loaf in almost Victorian ways: food fuel for the masses and a sure lack of aspiration to be better. So why on earth am I about to review a wholemeal bread mix from a dreary supermarket (the largest food retailer in the UK, as it happens)? To give a basic brown loaf a chance to show itself in a positive light, that’s why.So come with me (if you can stand it).
Don’t be afraid: it will get better 🙂
As ever, empty the pack into a mixing bowl and add water (350ml). Combine until a dough is formed. I find the dough rather firm at this point so another 20ml water goes in. Better. The hydrating of wholemeal flour can be tricky. Just to be sure of my work, I cover the dough and leave for an hour so the water can be fully absorbed. Those sixty minutes make a difference: the dough relaxes and becomes smoother.
On a floured surface knead the dough for a few minutes then let it rest. The lower gluten in wholemeal means it will not feel as light or pillowy as white flour dough. Knead briefly at thirty minute intervals until it feels smooth and elastic. Prepare your baking sheet/banneton/loaf pan.
I thought about a cottage loaf for this mix but decided on the banneton. The dough is quite relaxed now and trying to get enough strength into it by folding and shaping has minimal effect. Using a banneton keeps the dough in some kind of shape.
Get the oven hot (210°c) as this loaf should be, well, crusty. Meanwhile, slash the dough to your liking and get ready to bake.
Three slashes will do. I’m curious to see how much oven spring will open up these lines. Into the oven for 30-35 minutes or a bit longer (40 minutes in this case).
Good looking loaf, don’t you think? However pretty it may be my only concern is how does it taste? After all, this post is meant to test my resolve when it comes to brown bread. Take a look at this…
What can I say? The crust is soft (needs longer in the oven) and the texture is light for a wholemeal loaf. Butter makes it better (it would) and I like the results. Has baking this mix changed my opinions?
Well, I won’t be picking up another pack any time soon but for what it is, this bread is okay. Not life changing.