Monday, June 8, 2009

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread (for ABM)

I've made a lot of whole wheat bread since I bought a bread machine about a decade ago. I haven't made much really good whole wheat bread though. Most of the time, it has come out relatively heavy and dense. I'd pour the ingredients into the machine and the brick of brown bread that came out was usually only about 25% bigger than the dough ball that had formed at the start of the process.

I used to think this was because of Japanese yeast or possibly because the bread machine didn't knead the dough well enough. Eventually, I just concluded that whole wheat bread was dense by nature and that I was never going to be able to make a loaf which was relatively light. This was pretty frustrating because I can buy whole wheat bread which has a pretty decent texture at Japanese markets, but it costs about $1.30 for 3 tiny slices. If food manufacturers can make whole wheat bread that is relatively light, why can't I?

After years of bread so dense I'm surprised it didn't form its own singularity, I finally stumbled upon what seems to make the difference, wheat gluten. If you add a couple of tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to the dough, it seems to puff up and make a much lighter whole wheat loaf. With a little help from a random recipe I ran across on the web and some experimentation on my part, I finally have a recipe for what I'd consider about the best bread machine recipe for whole wheat bread. For those in Japan, please note that you can get vital wheat gluten from the Foreign Buyer's Club.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread (for ABM):
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
  • 3 1/4 cups (regular) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (regular rolled oats - not quick)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. yeast
Place the liquid ingredients in your bread machine, then the oatmeal, and then the remaining dry ones (add the yeast last, making sure it doesn't touch any wet ingredients). For best results, allow the flour to sit in the bread pan and absorb moisture for about an hour. Set the crust color to light and choose the whole wheat setting. Press start.

If you use honey, note that bread will be a little dark even with a light crust color setting. Also, when you toast it, it will tend to toast pretty rapidly because of the extra sugar, particularly if you use a high setting on a toaster oven. I think it would be possible, however, to make this with sugar instead of honey, but you might have to make some minor adjustment to the amount of wheat flour because the honey is liquid and sugar is not. Also, I'm not sure if the yeast will be quite as effective feeding off of sugar as compared to honey. Using more "nutritious" oils and sugars tends to give me a better rise.


Girl Japan said...

Sorry I am late making it over here after a hell of two weeks-- I lOVE whole wheat bread, esp when I am trying to keep the refined foodies down- I don't have a bread machine but I am crying at the prices over at FBC, and the wheat bread here is mixed with white flour and to what is the point then.. UGH... but yours looks fabulous, if you start selling it, let me know = )

Orchid64 said...

The main reason I make this bread is to not eat food which causes blood sugar spikes and potential issues with insulin resistance. I can get pretty nice white bread locally, but the whole wheat is hard to find and outrageously priced (as I noted). I've read that if you mix in white flour, then you've pretty much undermined the value of using whole wheat.

This is absolutely the first time I've made whole wheat that I actually liked and I think probably carries a lower glycemic load. Honestly though, I think it has a bit too much honey but I'm reluctant to tamper with success at this point!

Thanks for commenting!

Sherry said...

Adding wheat gluten to any bread makes it "fluffier" but it does make a HUGE difference with whole wheat bread. You can also get wheat gluten from Tengu, or at least they use to sell it. I assume they still do. Haven't checked in a while as I am stocked up. I think that FBC actually gets it from Tengu so it might be cheaper to go directly through Tengu.

Kelly said...

That looks sooo yum. I've never had a bread maker, it seems like so much trouble, and I'm afraid of stuffing up.

Yours looks so good though.

I didn't realise about honey until recently, when I made dorayaki, and the recipe called for honey, it browned the little pancakes, it's funny how that works, and I never realised that there was honey in wholemeal bread, but now you mention it!

Orchid64 said...

Sherry: I had forgotten that you can sometimes get wheat gluten from Tengu. I get my bags of whole wheat flour from them. A 5 kg. bag is much cheaper from them than anywhere else in Japan.

I'm not sure if Tengu and FBC have a connection on the wheat gluten though since the stuff I buy is Arrowhead Mills (not organic) at 703 yen for 283 grams and Tengu offers Alishan organic brand at 945 yen for 200 grams. If you don't care about whether or not something is organic, it's definitely better to go with the FBC.

Kelly: If you eat a lot of bread, a bread machine is very nice to have, particularly if you want to control your diet so that you know what goes into things. Since Japan mainly has white bread with the occasional white bread with brown things sprinkled in it, this is really the only way to have whole wheat on hand for me.

I've noticed a huge difference in hunger levels when eating white bread toast for breakfast vs. whole wheat. White bread always creates a crash where I get really hungry two hours later whereas wheat makes me fill very full for awhile.

Fortunately, bread machines are hard to mess up with. I think newer ones actually have special compartments for the yeast so you don't even have to remember to add it last anymore (I know Japanese ones do).

My bread machine is actually an American model (Oster). I didn't set out to buy an American one, but we were at Costco and it was cheap and right there when we were of a mind to buy one. It's been quite impressive in its longevity. I can't remember for sure, but I think we bought it 10-12 years ago and used it at least once a week for 7 of those years.

I should mention that not all wheat bread has honey. Many recipes do because people who eat whole wheat also tend to want to avoid refined sugars.

Thanks for your comments!