Bread: Whole Wheat or Half?

Can you tell the difference? I should’ve taken a closer shot of the first (whole wheat), but that aside, arrggg…night time pics. What a major pain in the blog! I’m still working out how to take good photos without having to set up some sort of makeshift studio. Maybe I’ll eventually be so good that I’ll be discovered by Food Network, and who will pay me just to bake and blog. THEN maybe I’d buy myself a monster DSLR and use artificial lighting.

A girl can dream, right?

And in the meantime, I’ll get back to the point of this post: bread, whole wheat or half-wheat/half-white to be exact. In Switzerland, you can buy “halbweissbrot”, which is I think 20-60% whole wheat flour and the rest, white. And then there’s “vollkornbrot”, which is basically all whole wheat. So I tried the recipe (from 4EveryKitchen), which is for a whole wheat french bread, twice. The first time, I followed the directions EXACTLY, but then ended up with a very dense loaf. The second time, however, I replaced half the whole wheat flour with all purpose and then replaced the bread machine yeast with active dry. And the result? Muuuuuch better. Perhaps my yeast was off the first try. Question: if I use all purpose flour, is extra gluten as called for in the original recipe really necessary? I don’t know—now that I think about it, perhaps not. Oh well, it worked all the same.

Because the halbweissbrot (half-white bread) is the one that turned out, I guess that’s the adapted recipe I’m going to post. Both loaves were tasty and full of hearty whole-wheat goodness, however, the half-white was just lighter and altogether prettier to look at. Again, it was probably a yeast issue, something I’ll have to investigate the next time I make this.

Btw, the directions are for the bread machine, but you can adjust to by hand or stand mixer, of course.

Enjoy!

Halbweissbrot / Half-White Bread (adapted from a recipe found on 4EveryKitchen)

printable recipe

Makes 1 loaf

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups, plus 1 tbsp buttermilk (or 1 1/4 cups milk plus 1 tbsp lemon juice)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp gluten (optional?)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp SAF instant yeast or 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp bread machine yeast (I actually used active dry)

METHOD

  1. Place all the ingredients IN ORDER into the bread machine. Select Dough setting and press start (ca. 1 hr 20 min).
  2. When the bread machine beeps at the end of the dough cycle, press STOP and unplug the machine. Open the lid and use your fingers to deflate the dough. Let the dough rise in the machine for another 30 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. This dough is very sticky, so when it’s ready to come out of the bread machine, just quickly tip it onto your prepared surface. Knead a few times and pat into a 12”x6” rectangle. Roll up from the long edge into a flat loaf and roll back and forth with your palms to make pointed ends. Fold the log of dough in half lengthwise and pinch seams to seal. Roll the dough back and forth again to make the loaf about 14” long. Cover gently with a damp dish towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, ca. 1 hour.
  4. Twenty minutes before baking, place a baking stone on the center rack of a cold oven and preheat to 450 F/230 C, then reduce to 400/200 C. (4EveryKitchen suggests leaving the oven on for 20 minutes before lowering the heat to 400 F/200 C.) Place an EMPTY cake pan or broiler tray out of the way of your stone.
  5. Holding kitchen shears at 45 degree angle, snip the surface 5 or 6 times down the length of the loaf, cutting no more than 1” deep.
  6. Sprinkle a little flour directly on your pizza/baking stone. Using a dough scraper or steel spatula to help you, slide the loaf onto the prepared stone. Just before shutting the door add 1 cup hot tap water to the hot empty baking pan. This will steam the oven and make a very crispy crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the surface is dark brown and sounds hollow when you tap the top.
  7. Remove and let it cool on a rack.

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