Bread–upping the nutrition

IMG_1462Most of you who have checked out my bread recipes would notice one thing right away: they’re pretty heavy on the white flour. Most of my recipes are, in fact. And we eat a lot of bread, which means white flour constitutes a pretty large portion of our diets. Lately I’ve been thinking that’s not such a good thing.

The thing is, I really like simple bread recipes, ones that contain only 4 ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Unfortunately this formula only really works with white flour (at least as far as I know).

Since my supreme enlightenment (discovering Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day), I’m completely sold on the no-knead method and the simple recipe, and don’t want to complicate it any more with shortening or sweeteners. I want my easy bread and the fibre/nutrient content too!

So I’ve begun another experiment: slowly increasing the amount of whole wheat flour I add to the mix. I’m trying to find how far I can go, what percentage whole wheat flour I can get to where the simple recipe and techniques still work.

Here is my progress, so far:

1 cup of whole wheat flour (5 1/2 oz) was barely noticeable. The crumb was glossy, and speckled with occasional flecks of bran, and the taste was fairly indistinguishable from the all-white version. A completely innocuous way to add a bit of fibre and nutrition to the recipe.

2 cups of whole wheat flour (11 oz, or around 30% of flour by weight) actually added to the flavour, I thought, making it slightly more complex. The texture was still great and the loaf was beautiful. 30% whole wheat is what you will see in most “light whole wheat” recipes.

3 cups of whole wheat flour (16 oz, or 50% of flour by weight) is just in the oven now . . .

Well, after baking and cooling and slicing and buttering and finally tasting, I have to say this is pretty darn good! Still a lovely lofty loaf, with a crackling crust and beautiful full flavour. I thought at 50% I would start to see some density happening, and start to taste some bitterness, but none of that has happened!

So I’ll keep pushing it–next time to 4 cups out of 6! If anyone out there has experience using whole wheat in the Artisan Bread in 5 recipes, please let me know!


7 thoughts on “Bread–upping the nutrition

  1. Isn’t the Artisian Bread Recepie just the best? I recently found it myself. Around our house everyone likes the flavor of 4 cups of whole wheat to 2 1/2 cups of unbleached white (I use bread flour). To avoid any bitterness I also add about 2 Tbsp. of honey. For extra texture I sometimes throw in a 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats. For an altogether diffrent taste I will use all unbleached white and 5 cloves (we really like garlic!) of garlic finely chopped, great with spagetti!
    You have a great blog, I enjoy reading your posts, so many great sources of inspiration! Thank-you!

  2. I have been tempted to start my own bread baking, but it seems like so much work. I just printed your original recipe and wanted to start with that this weekend, my concern was the white flour content. For a while ours will be all white because its what I have, but I am planning to start buying Whole Wheat Flour this weekend. I am wondering if I can add seeds and nuts (Quinoa, Sunflower, Walnuts etc.) As I like mutligrain breads, I know DH won’t like it, but maybe the girls will.

  3. Your systematic approach to increasing fiber by incorporating whole wheat flour is right on. Gradually increasing the percentage until you find the bread is too dense or strong tasting makes perfect sense. You can also just add in a couple tablespoons of wheat bran or germ or partially ground flax seeds for fiber without creating doorstops. I have also come up with a delicious 100 percent whole wheat-honey bread for my new bread book, Kneadlessly Simple, so it is possible with the right recipe.

    Athough you seem sold on another book, if you are interested in trying my method I have posted a sample loaf bread recipe on my website There is also a crusty boule recipe on the website–you need to search on no-knead bread for it. The Kneadlessly Simple method really is the easiest, most foolproof and fuss-free one around–and the resulting bread is great, if I do say so myself.

  4. Well, I’ve never baked bread but decided to try this as it looked really simple and, I was stuck home all weekend because of an foot injury and needed to rest it often.

    I did half mixtures, so mine made two loaves at a time.

    Tried it twice, first time with 2 cups wheat and 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose white flour. Not bad but too much salt and not enough yeast (or not warm enough to rise when shaped). Bread texture was great for a wheat bread. Although I had to re fill the steam pan as it dried out really quick.

    Second time with 1 1/2 cups wheat and 1 3/4 cup all purpose. Decreased salt and upped yeast, plus started oven as soon as I shaped them in pan to about 250 and put the glass loaf pans where they would be warmed. The rise was much better this time. Only I forgot to slash the top when I cooked them and the crust was harder. I also added more water and the water lasted through the baking time. It however tasted good, just tough crust.

    I figure I still have some trial and error to do. Thanks for the post, it really inspired me to try. I have requested the 5 minute a day book from the library as well.

  5. I bake all our bread here at home. I used to use all white flour until I bought a mill last year, but I am able to use the same recipe. I milled the wheat just before baking & usually have it rather coarse. I usually use hard red or winter white wheat berries. Regular store-boughten wheat flour should work as well.
    2 Tbl yeast
    2 Tbl Sugar
    1 Tbl Salt
    2 1/2 Cups Warm Water
    8-10 Cups Flour
    Mix it all together. Let rise about 40 minutes. Divide into two baguettes, or loaves depending on your preference. Let rise again. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then 350 for 15 minutes. It’s super easy and yummy. Not a great keeper, so once it cools I usually slice it all and freeze it. Then I just remove what’s needed as needed. Works for me!

  6. I don’t use the Artisan method, but in our daily bread I use about half bread flour and half whole wheat, and I always throw a 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds in, too. Have you tried adding ground flax seeds? Tasty and sooo good for you! Sometimes I’ll add oatmeal, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds too for a little variety.

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