Skip to main content

Learning about Whole Grains

bread display from Day 2

Bread from Day 2

My final week at the San Francisco Baking Institute is underway and this week it's an advanced course on whole grains. There is a lot to learn and we're clipping along at a quick pace.

If I could summarize the course in two points it would be:

#1: Grains do a job on the gluten structure of the bread, so you need to be careful to create a light, voluminous loaf.

#2: While people like the idea of whole grain bread, it is certainly an acquired taste, so we're learning ways to bring our guests on the journey a little at a time.

and if I got a third point it would be this: there are more combinations of seeds, grains and fruits than I can possibly count! An eager baker can spend years tweaking formulae to come up with a unique, tasty combination.

For example, the picture shows four of the five breads we made on Tuesday. From the left, they are Oatmeal Pan Bread, Flax Seed Bread, Millet Bread, and 100% Whole Wheat Bread. We also made a Corn Bread that is missing from the picture. Each uses different grains and seeds. Most use a preferment. Some use a preferment and a sourdough levain. Each has a unique shaping technique and scoring pattern. Honestly, I could spend years with this stuff!

As we proceed down the whole grain path we're experimenting with countless combinations of soakers, levains and preferments. One bread we'll be making tomorrow uses four different pre-mixes before we make the final dough. Veterans of SFBI know that this means a desperate hunt for mixing bowls and containers to store it all. So far it's all working out pretty well -- no tub fights have been reported!