Wheatgerm bread

 

When in Ireland last weekend, I picked up a big bag of wheatgerm – an ingredient found in most well stocked supermarkets over there. I use wheatgerm in this recipe for brown Irish soda bread and in this homemade granola recipe. However, Dan Lepard also features a good-looking wheatgerm bread in his book ‘The Handmade Loaf‘ and here is my version of his wheatgerm bread recipe.

Wheat Germ Bread
Wheat Germ Bread

What is wheat germ?

  • Wheat germ (short for germination) is the small, nutritious centre of a wheat kernel.
  • It’s the part of wheat that sprouts and grows into a new plant and comprises only about 2.5% of the weight of the kernel.
  • Wheat germ is removed during white flour refinement but it is used in whole wheat flour.
Wheat Germ
Wheat Germ

For reference, whole wheat and all other whole grains are made up of three primary components:

  • the bran (outside shell)
  • the germ (the reproductive element)
  • the starchy endosperm (used to mill flour)

Wheat germ bread recipe

This is my slightly adjusted version of Dan Lepard’s wheatgerm bread recipe. I use double the amount of whole grains, half the amount of honey and replace orange juice with milk in my recipe version. I also opt for not toasting the wheatgerm due to some nutrients being lost during the toasting process.

Wheat Germ Bread Dan Lepard
My Wheat Germ Bread Based On Dan Lepard’s Recipe

Dan Lepard’s tip: “In an act of breadmaking heresy, this bread doesn’t really have an initial fermentation. After kneading, the dough is left for 10 minutes before being shaped and placed in the tin, so most of the fermentation occurs once the dough is in its final shape. Breadmaking flour has a lot of strong gluten, but it is contained within the endosperm. In white flour, all that remains is the milled endosperm; in wholewheat flour this is a smaller percentage of the dry matter. Wholewheat flours should therefore be treated as if they contain less gluten, which means you need to handle the dough les and give it a shorter initial rise. This bread has an extra 25% wheatgerm, which lowers the gluten content further. Be gentle with the kneading, as the bran will tear the gluten if the dough is subjected to a rigorous and extended mixing. ”

Wheatgerm Bread
Wheatgerm Bread

Ingredients

  • 80g whole grains – you can e.g. use whole wheat, rye, spelt or Grünkern as I have used
  • 100g wheatgerm
  • 400g strong wholewheat flour
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 5g salt
  • 340g water
  • 20g honey
  • 60g milk, lukewarm

How to make wheatgerm bread

  1. Place the whole grains in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Ensure the grains remain covered with water at all times.
  2. Remove from the heat, add cold water to the pan so the grains become lukewarm, then drain.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the water and honey and warm up slightly (not too much) to thoroughly mix the two liquids.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the wholewheat flour, wheatgerm, cooked whole grains, dried yeast, salt, the water and honey mixture and the milk.
  5. Form a dough and knead briefly. When evenly combined, cover the bowl and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Use this time to grease a 9 x 24 cm loaf tin (I used rapeseed oil and a silicone pastry brush to do this).
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 10 seconds.
  8. Shape the dough back into a ball, return it to the bowl and cover.
  9. Leave for 5 minutes and repeat steps 9 and 10 twice more.
  10. Leave for 10 minutes.
  11. On a lightly floured work surface, pat the dough into a flat rectangle measuring roughly 25 cm left-to-right by 20 cm top-to-bottom.
  12. Roll the dough inward, starting at the end furthest from you, rolling it tightly.
  13. Roll the dough gently on the work surface, then pat the ends inward so that it will drop neatly into the prepared tin. Lightly flour the dough’s top surface.
  14. Cover the tin with a polythene bag and leave to rise at room temperature for approx. 1 – 1.5 hours, until it has risen about 1 cm over the top of the tin. Ensure to preheat the oven to 220°C about 20 minutes before this time.
  15. Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
  16. Remove from the oven and, after 5 minutes, remove the loaf from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Wheat Germ Bread Recipe
Wheat Germ Bread Recipe

How to store sourdough starter

 

As there are some frequently asked questions around storing sourdough starter between bakes, I thought I’d start a post to provide some answers. Here are my notes on how to store sourdough starter.

Rye sourdough starter recipe
Rye sourdough starter

I put together my first sourdough starter (a rye starter) at the beginning of 2013 and have been using and refreshing it ever since. There have been prolonged periods (four weeks plus) where this particular starter has been left untouched in the fridge. Whenever that happened, I simply stirred the grey-brown liquid that settles on the surface of the sour back into the starter refreshment. 16 hours later, I have a normal rye sourdough starter back in action.

Whether you work with rye, wheat or spelt sourdough starter, roughly the same storage rules apply although wheat leaven refreshments tend to reactivate more quickly than rye.

Some notes in the outline below have been sourced from Andrew Whitley’s excellent books: Bread Matters and Do Sourdough: Slow Bread For Busy Lives.

How to store sourdough starter?

  • Sourdough starter needs to be stored between uses i.e. refreshes. Refreshing sourdough means adding flour and water to your existing starter in order to revitalise it and prepare it to be used for baking.
  • Unless you bake every day (in which case you would just constantly refresh your starter every day and there is no need for storing it away), you need to store your starter at a cool temperature to preserve it.
  • If more than two or three days are likely to pass before the sourdough is used again, it is best to store the starter in the fridge. If your sour was viable when you last used it, it should keep there for many weeks and revive easily. Please – there is no need for gimmicky sourdough hotels.
  • A glass jar with screw top or metal clips is suitable but beware of a build-up of gas pressure if you fasten the lid too tightly. Plastic tubs with clip-on lids work well and this is what I typically use as my sourdough starter storage container.
  • Please note that some space is always needed for the starter to expand when storing it. At the same time, limiting the air space between the surface of your starter and the lid of the container will help to prevent mould growth. So, leave some space but not too much.
  • A good lid will help keep out unwanted moulds and contaminants, so a tight fitting lid works better than a piece of loose cling film for example.
  • Using refrigerated sourdough starter is easy. Simply take starter out of the fridge, combine with flour and water (as per the recipe you are using) and you will have an active starter.
  • Here is my recipe for an easy sourdough bread if you are looking to get started.

Can you freeze sourdough? How to store sourdough starter long term?

  • Freezing sourdough starter is a good option for storing sourdough starter long term.
  • Freezing reduces the power of natural yeasts, so it is best to refresh the sour before putting it in the freezer.
  • Give it an immediate refreshment after it comes out, to make sure that it has regained full vigour.