I was running low on vital wheat gluten for making all whole-wheat bread this week, so I tried some of my recipes calling for bread flour.
Oh, my. If you're a bread machine user (or someone who makes bread the old-fashioned way, for that matter), you really should be using bread flour. It makes a huge difference.
Because I'd never used bread flour, I guess I hadn't realized how dense my whole-wheat loaves were. But I tried making both a three-seed loaf and a light whole wheat loaf with bread flour, and was amazed at how the loaf filled my entire bread pan. It had never happened before. The bread was light, with great texture and better flavor.
If you don't use bread flour, try it. You'll be amazed.
Here are the recipes I've tried. They're both 2-pound loaves and turned out well.
Light Whole Wheat (Don't be confused by the name, this is a mostly-white bread)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons dried milk (I used non-fat
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt (a bread-machine cook book I read suggested putting the salt and sugar in different corners of your loaf)
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 3/4 teaspoons fast-rise yeast.
Select your whole wheat mode for this recipe. It notes that it will rise almost as high as a all-white loaf.
I served this to coworkers today with honey butter I whipped up in the mixer this morning. They ate it all.
3 Seeds French bread
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons dry milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter (I substituted 3 tablespoons flax meal)
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons amaranth seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast or 1 3/4 teaspoons fast-rise yeast
Select your French mode for this loaf. Use only unsalted seeds, and you can substitute pumpkin or whole flax seeds in this recipe. I used 1/4 cup whole flax seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds. I was concerned that there wouldn't be enough water in this recipe, but it turned out to be beautiful and delicious.
Next, I'm going to try to get my hands on whole-wheat bread flour and see if that does better than suplementing regular whole-wheat with gluten. I'll keep you posted.
Photo - the light whole wheat loaf I baked this morning.