At least from an appearance standpoint, this one is closer to the truth:
The recipe was similar to the first attempt, but this time I gave it more total flour, yeast, and time.
375 grams bread flour, 125 grams (fresh milled) hard red winter wheat (500 grams flour total, which gives the following baker’s percentages), 325 grams cool water (65%), 15 grams honey (3%), 20 grams oil (4%), 10 grams kosher salt (2%), 1 tsp instant yeast.
- Combine bread flour and whole wheat flour with the water and mix them together. Cover and let the flour hydrate for one hour.
- Add the other ingredients and mix on low speed for 10 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a bowl and the top of the dough. (I always put a light teaspoon of oil into the bottom of the bowl and use the top of the dough to rub the oil around the inside of the container. Then flip the dough to seam side down and place it in the bowl. Done.) Cover and let rest 90 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl. Shape into a batard / short loaf. Place the loaf into a lightly oiled 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Cover and let rise 120 minutes – when there are 30 minutes left on the rise preheat the oven to 425F .
- Slash the dough (optional) just prior to baking. I’ve been inverting a 2nd loaf pan to cover the bottom pan and trap a little steam. I’m not sure if it helps but it makes me feel like I’m doing something to help the oven spring.
- Bake for 10 minutes covered, then 30 minutes uncovered.
- Let cool on a rack.
I think it’s a perfectly nice looking sandwich bread. It tastes like that too, with just a hint of whole wheat flour and honey. For better or worse, it passes for very generic bread. It would be a good way to get some whole wheat into picky eaters but it’s also not going to blow anyone away with flavor.
Between the two attempts — they’re both very similar in time, technique, and ingredients. Both times I’ve felt like the bread could use more salt, or more “oomph” generally. But 2% salt weight as a percentage of the total flour weight is very normal in bread recipes. It may be the neutral oil is masking the other tastes. More likely is that the initial hydration just needs a couple of days in the refrigerator, or a day on the counter, and perhaps a tiny tiny bit of yeast to get some biological activity going. The finished taste would benefit from using a poolish.
Which really is how breads are best anyway. Breads with longer fermentations taste better and are more digestible than “day of” breads. Either 1-3 days in the refrigerator or one day on the counter is a good place to start.
So far I’ve been concerned with handling freshly milled whole wheat flour, both the increased yeast activity and the perishability. I need to do more reading to see what’s reasonable. I’ve made it part of the way through my new books. I need to find some time and read the important bits.