Muesli2

Muesli Mayhem {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

To get everyone revved up about our new Gluten Free Muesli, we asked some of our favorite bloggers to take a bag of it and create something fun and delicious. They really outdid themselves. These recipes are beautiful and we hope they inspire you to try something new when enjoying our muesli. They all did such a nice job, that we’re having trouble picking our favorite.

Help us choose a winner by voting for your favorite creation. Tell us in the comments which of these recipes should win the grand prize and you’ll be entered to win a prize pack that contains two packages of our Gluten Free Muesli and two Bob’s Red Mill products of your choice (excluding bulk sizes). Many of these bloggers are giving away muesli, too. We’ve indicated which ones are up and running so you can head over and enter to win even more muesli. If that isn’t enough, you can join the fun by taking a picture of yourself with a package of our gluten free muesli and enter our Pinterest and Instagram contests. Read more about that contest here. There are so many ways to win and it’s so easy to enter! Vote for as many recipes as you like, but each person will only be entered to win once. Voting is open until May 2nd at 11:59 pm.

Here they are in no particular order…

Note: To get the recipe, simply click on the link to their blog in the caption, this will take you right to the recipe.

Gluten Free Muesli Bar Recipe:: Amie Valpone, The Healthy Apple

Gluten Free Muesli Bar:: Amie Valpone, The Healthy Apple

Five-Spice Muesli Granola (and Peach-Greek Yogurt Parfaits) :: Heather Sage, A Sage Amalgam {GIVEAWAY}

Five-Spice Muesli Granola (and Peach-Greek Yogurt Parfaits) :: Heather Sage, A Sage Amalgam {Giveaway}

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Muesli Bars:: Janel Ovrut Funk, Eat Well with Janel

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Muesli Bars:: Janel Ovrut Funk, Eat Well with Janel

Muesli Morning Cake Gluten-Free:: Jean, Delightful Repast

Muesli Morning Cake Gluten-Free:: Jean, Delightful Repast {Giveaway}

Dark Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Muesli Bars:: Amanda Moore, Bullfrogs & Bulldogs

Dark Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Muesli Bars:: Amanda Moore, Bullfrogs & Bulldogs

Muesli Cream Pies:: Carolyn Ketchum, All Day I Dream About Food

Muesli Cream Pies:: Carolyn Ketchum, All Day I Dream About Food {Givaway}

Apple Cinnamon Muesli Breakfast Bake:: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

Apple Cinnamon Muesli Breakfast Bake:: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root {Giveaway}

Gluten-Free Muesli Pancakes with Fresh Berries:: Jeanette Chen, Jeanette's Healthy Living

Gluten-Free Muesli Pancakes with Fresh Berries:: Jeanette Chen, Jeanette’s Healthy Living {Giveaway}

Peach Breakfast Calzone:: Sarena Shasteen, The Non Dairy Queen

Peach Breakfast Calzone:: Sarena Shasteen, The Non Dairy Queen {Giveaway}

Hedgehog Muesli Bars:: Ericka Sanchez, Nibbles and Feasts

Hedgehog Muesli Bars:: Ericka Sanchez, Nibbles and Feasts

 

Strawberry, Banana and Blueberry Muesli Bread:: Claire Gallam: The Realistic Nutritionist

Strawberry, Banana and Blueberry Muesli Bread:: Claire Gallam, The Realistic Nutritionist {Giveaway}

 

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
flour

Baking with Coconut Flour: Google Plus Hangout

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Whole Grains 101

Join us on March 27th at 12 pm (EST) for a chat about baking with coconut flour. Jeanette Chen, of Jeanette’s Healthy Living, will be discussing the ins and outs of this unique flour with several top food bloggers and our very own Sarah House. Come join the fun and ask questions (we’re also giving away some fun prizes)!

RSVP and get event info here.

If you’re not on Google Plus, it’s very easy to sign up- all you need is a Google account. If you can’t make it, we’ll post the complete hangout video after the chat.

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
Scones2

Irish Soda Berry Scones

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

These scones are an easy, versatile recipe using our Irish Soda Bread Mix. Use berries as suggested, or mix it up with your favorite add-ins. To celebrate in true Irish style, some currants or raisins might be appropriate. Serve these with a pat of butter and some Irish breakfast tea (or a Guinness, we won’t tell).

Irish Soda Berry Scones

Irish Soda Berry Scones

  •     24 oz (4-1/4 cup) Irish Soda Bread Mix
  •     1 cup Water
  •     1/2 cup Oil
  •     1 cup Berries

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, combine mix with water and oil. Stir just until barley combined and then stir in the berries, careful not to over mix. Divide mixture in half. Pat each half into a flattened circle and place on a greased baking sheet about 1-inch apart.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Makes 12 scones.

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
English Muffins

Bread Starters Part Two: Biga and Poolish

by Sarah House in Featured Articles, Recipes, Whole Grains 101

I hope everyone was able to try out one of the preferments discussed in the previous post (pâte fermentée or a sponge).  What did you notice about your bread?  Was it taller? Stronger?  Nicer crumb?  Fabulous!  Let’s move on to some preferments that offer a bit more flavor along with the great structural boosts they’re known for.

First up:  biga.  Biga is a traditional Italian preferment that is often used with super soft, highly hydrated doughs like ciabatta and focaccia.  This preferment’s ratio of 2 parts flour to 1 part water make for a very stiff mixture that can be hard to mix by hand.  After the initial mix, a biga will look rather useless.  But, give it a few hours and it will soften and hydrate.  You’ll know your biga is ripe and ready when the dough is domed and just beginning to recede in the center.  The best thing about bigas:  they offer a lot of flavor and many qualities of sours without the time commitment.

Biga

Prepare 8 – 24 hours before baking.

  • Flour                30% of total flour from bread recipe
  • Water              equal weight as 15% of total flour
  • Yeast               .8 – 1% of total yeast from bread recipe

Biga

 Now it’s time for my favorite in the preferment family (shhh, don’t tell the others):  poolish.  Poolish was originally used in Poland (hence the name) and is such a great preferment that it is one of the most widely used in French bakeries.  That’s right, French boulangers ditched their very own pâte fermentée to use a Polish poolish.  Why is it so popular?  Yes, yes, you’ll get great rise, crust and structure but you’ll also get a fabulous moist crumb with chewy texture and amazing flavor.  Oh, the flavor!  Sweet and tangy and just about perfection.

Poolish is the most hydrated preferment (1 part flour to 1 part water) and looks almost soupy.  This high hydration content is what creates the winning crumb and chew.  Ripeness is indicated when the surface is covered with small bubbles.  If the poolish has risen and then begun to recede (called a “high water mark”) its leavening power is shot.  Do over. And if you’re wondering what to make using a poolish, try this Whole Wheat English Muffins recipe.  They were a huge hit here at Bob’s and I ate three of them in about 20 minutes.  Seriously.

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Poolish

Prepare 4 – 24 hours before baking.

  • Flour                30% of total flour from bread recipe
  • Water              equal weight as 30% total flour
  • Yeast               .08 – 1% of total yeast from bread recipe

 

Poolish

 A word about measurements

You may have noticed that, so far, all of the formulas are using percentages and reference weight.  Why is that?  Because measuring by weight is far more accurate than measuring by volume.  If you are serious about baking and want to produce consistently excellent products, use a scale.  Treat yourself.  And your eaters.  Baker’s scales for home cooks are incredibly affordable (Bob’s Red Mill sells this one).  And with the ability to measure in American Standard or metric, you can make delicious recipes from those crazy countries that don’t use our ounces and pounds (which is everyone).

Stay tuned….next week we’ll be pulling out the big guns:  naturally cultured sourdough starters.

About The Author
Sarah House Google: Sarah House
Share this article:
LCFloursbanner

National Flour Month: Low Carb Flour Primer {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Whole Grains 101

This is our second post in our series on the different flours we produce. Last week, we covered wheat flour, read all about it here.

When you think of Bob’s Red Mill, the words “low carbohydrate” do not often spring to mind. If you took a look at our product line, you might think all we make are carbohydrates, but as anyone who follows a low carb or paleo diet will tell you, we have quite a few low carb options.

Whether you follow a restricted carb diet for health reasons or simply want to lose a few pounds, these flours are essential for  keeping your sanity and enjoying some of the foods you miss the most on a low carb diet. Here are our most popular low carb flours and some ideas for what to do with them.

Almond Meal/Flour: Almonds are notoriously healthy nuts providing a good amount of manganese and vitamin E , as well as a healthy serving of monounsaturated fats in each 1/4 cup serving. Not only do almonds have a healthy boost of protein, they are also very low in carbohydrates and naturally gluten free. Replacing 25% of the flour in your baking with almond meal will add wonderful texture and flavor while reducing the total carbohydrates.  Although it has a lightly sweet flavor, almond meal can also be used in savory applications. Use almond meal in place of bread crumbs in meatballs, or as a coating for chicken and fish. Browse recipes for almond meal here.

Coconut Flour: Organic coconut flour is a delicious, healthy alternative to wheat and other grain flours. Ground from dried, defatted coconut meat, coconut flour is high in fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates. A single 2 Tbsp serving of coconut flour delivers 5 grams of fiber with only 8 grams of carbs. The light coconut flavor allows coconut flour to blend seamlessly into sweet or savory baked goods. It makes a wonderful coating for chicken, fish or other proteins in place of regular flour or cornmeal. Because of its high fiber content, baking with coconut flour is a unique experience. Coconut flour requires an equal ratio of liquid to flour for best results. Coconut flour can replace up to 20% of the flour in a recipe, but you will need to add an equal amount of liquid to compensate.  We recommend following a recipe designed for coconut flour when getting started. Luckily, we have many recipes to experiment with in our recipe section. Coconut flour is unsweetened and does not contain sulfites.

Bob's Red Mill Low Carb Flours: Almond Meal, Coconut Flour, Hazelnut Meal, Soy Flour

Hazelnut Meal/Flour: Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Meal is ground from whole Oregon hazelnuts, or filberts. Hazelnuts are often overlooked for their nutritional value, but these healthy nuts provide a good amount of vitamin E and a healthy serving of monounsaturated fats in each 1/4 cup serving. You can replace up to 30% of the flour in your baking with hazelnut meal to add wonderful texture and flavor.  Hazelnut meal will bring a rich, buttery flavor to your baking while adding an enticing aroma that can only come from high quality hazelnuts. Hazelnut meal can be used in savory applications, as well. Use hazelnut meal in place of bread crumbs in meatballs, or as a coating for chicken and fish.  Our hazelnut meal is not blanched. Find recipes for using hazelnut meal.

Soy Flour: Our soy flour is milled from whole, raw soy beans. This flour is a great source of complete protein, as well as a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. You can replace up to 30% of the flour in your recipe with soy flour. Soy flour is naturally gluten free, however we do not produce it in our gluten free facility. Baked goods made with soy flour tend to brown more quickly, so it is best to use a recipe designed for soy flour or to keep a close eye on your baking when using it. Find recipes for using soy flour here.

millstone

Giveaway

We’d like to give one lucky reader a set of our low carb flours- almond meal, coconut flour, hazelnut meal and soy flour To enter, simply follow the directions in the app below. We’ll pick a winner at random from all who enter by 12:01 am on 03/20/13.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
flour

National Flour Month: Wheat Flour Primer {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Whole Grains 101

March is National Flour Month and flour is something we get pretty excited about at Bob’s Red Mill. After all, we make a lot of different products, but flour is special. Not only do we use our millstones to grind it, but we take a whole grain and mill it into a whole grain flour. Nothing added, nothing removed. One pound of grain in, one pound of flour out. It’s pretty simple, but pretty amazing, too. In honor of National Flour Month, we’re doing a little series on the different types of flour that we offer. Each week, we’ll giveaway a set of flours to a lucky winner. This week, we’re starting with the different varieties of wheat flour that we produce. If wheat flour isn’t your thing, don’t worry, we’ll cover our other flours all in good time.

millstone

Wheat flour is probably the single most ubiquitous flour in the world. It is in nearly every packaged food and baked good you look at, even those things that you never think about being baked at all. It’s in those pretty breads at the bakery, the flour tortillas at your local Mexican restaurant, the boxes of pasta you just bought, it’s the backbone of couscous, the thickener in sauces, the breading on your fish, really and truly, as anyone with gluten intolerance can tell you, wheat flour is everywhere. In a perfect world, everything made with wheat would be made with whole wheat flour, but we all know that the world isn’t perfect and that beautiful, fluffy pastries are best achieved with white flour. So we make the best choices we can and practice a bit of moderation.

Whole Wheat Flour: Standard whole wheat flour is milled from high protein, hard red spring wheat. This flour has a minimum protein level of 13.5% and is excellent for bread baking and anywhere yeast is used as the leavening agent (think pizza, pretzels, etc). Because it is whole grain, baked goods using solely whole wheat flour will be a bit more dense. Use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% white flour to create a balanced texture and crumb in your baked good. Adding vital wheat gluten to your baked good will improve the elasticity and rise of your dough (use 1 Tbsp per cup of flour).

whole wheat flour unbleached white flour

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: Whole Wheat Pastry Flour is milled from soft white wheat and has a maximum protein content of 13%. This is an excellent choice for baked goods that use baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent. The lower gluten content does not trap air bubbles as effectively as conventional whole wheat flour, which will not give yeast-risen baked goods the proper rise they need. Use this flour for pastries, cookies, cakes and quick breads.

Hard White Whole Wheat Flour: This special flour is one of our favorite products at Bob’s Red Mill. Milled from high protein, hard white wheat, this flour is the best of both worlds. Light in color, yet full of whole grain goodness, hard white whole wheat flour has a sweeter flavor than conventional whole wheat flour, appealing to those that find whole wheat baked goods to be slightly bitter. It is ideal for bread baking, but can be used for other baked goods. Like regular whole wheat flour, it will make baked goods more dense, so it can be used in combination with white flour to achieve a lighter texture.

Unbleached White Flour: This is not to be confused with All Purpose Flour. Standard unbleached white flour is milled from the same hard red spring wheat as whole wheat flour, but has the germ and bran stripped away to produce a white flour. It has a minimum protein level of 13% and is often referred to as bread flour. This flour is ideal for breads and yeast-risen baked goods, but can be used in place of all purpose flour for most recipes. Read more about white flour here where we go into bleaching, bromating, enriching and more.

Unbleached White Pastry Flour: The refined counterpart of whole wheat pastry flour, this flour is milled from soft white wheat with the bran and germ removed. This flour has a maximum protein content of 9%, making it both the lowest protein wheat flour we carry and the most ideal for fine cake and pastry baking.

Semolina Flour: Semolina flour is the quintessential flour for pasta making and is milled from durum wheat. It has a sandy texture and contains about 12% protein, making it great for bread baking and pizza crust.

Graham Flour: Graham flour is quite simply a coarsely ground whole wheat flour. Milled from hard red spring wheat, graham flour can be used in place of whole wheat flour, however it should only be used for about 20% of the flour in your recipe or you will end up with a very dense baked good. Graham flour can be substituted for Whole Meal Flour with little difference in the texture of the baked good. Graham flour is not made from ground up graham crackers as some people believe, but it can be used to make graham crackers.

Unbleached White Flour

millstone

Giveaway

We’d like to give one lucky reader a set of our whole wheat flours- organic whole wheat flour, organic hard white whole wheat flour and organic whole wheat pastry flour. To enter, simply follow the directions in the app below. We’ll pick a winner at random from all who enter by 12:01 am on 03/13/13.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
Muffins4

Whole Wheat English Muffins

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes

As promised, here is our recipe for Whole Wheat English Muffins. I had to try these out for myself before I shared them so I knew exactly what you were getting yourself into if you attempt these. First off, this recipe takes a serious time commitment. Second, this recipe is painfully easy to put together. With a little bit of planning, you can have fresh, chewy English muffins for breakfast one day (if you get up really, really early) and everyone will be so impressed with your baking skills.

Here’s what you need to know- the time commitment is primarily a matter of rising time. These babies start with a poolish that ferments overnight, then allowed to come to room temp for at least 3 hours. Then the dough is mixed and needs to rise for 45 minutes. The dough is folded and rises again for 15 minutes, then shaped into muffins and left to rise for a final 15 minutes… so maybe you have these more like noon (like we did at our house) or for dinner. While they are something akin to heaven straight from the oven, these are phenomenal the next day and the day after that. We didn’t have any make it past that to attest to their quality. I think my husband ate 3 of these straight from the oven. Fresh, they don’t even need butter to be amazing (but it certainly doesn’t hurt).English Muffins Whole Wheat

I’d consider myself a novice bread baker. Sure, I’ve made basic breads and pizza dough, but I was incredibly intimidated by this recipe. My advice to you: don’t be. It was easy to follow and, even when I flubbed a step, the results were divine.

A dab of butter, a slathering of jam, a smooth layer of peanut butter, a fried egg with a bit of cheese… whatever you opt to top these with will be worth it, I promise.

[A note about equipment and measurements. If you have them, English muffin rings are handy. If you don't, a big biscuit cutter or even just a dough knife will work. The rings helped to make that perfect "English muffin" shape, but they really wouldn't make or break the recipe. We've included household measurements here as a courtesy, but, as I'm learning a baking scale is a kitchen essential for serious bakers. Not only does it improve the outcome of your recipe when you weigh your ingredients, it makes you feel like a real baker! Scales are pretty affordable. We sell a good one, but you can also find quite a selection on Amazon, as well.]

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Recipe by Sarah House

Yield twelve 3 ½ oz muffins

Poolish

  • 6 ¾ oz Water (110°F)
  • ¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 6 ¾ oz (1 ½ cups + 3 Tbsp) Unbleached White Flour

Bread Dough

  • 14 oz Warm Water (110°)
  • 1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 13 ½ oz Poolish (entire recipe from above)
  • 1 oz Unsalted Butter
  • 15 ¼ oz (3 cups + 3 Tbsp) Unbleached White Flour
  • 5 oz (1 cup) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • Semolina Flour as needed

Poolish

  1. In a large, non-reactive metal or glass bowl (only use plastic if it is clean and free of odors), proof yeast in water until “milky”, about 5 minutes.
  1. Add the flour and stir until a smooth, elastic batter has formed.
  1. Scrape down the sides and cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  1. (Optional) For the most sourdough-like flavor, transfer to the refrigerator and chill 8 – 24 hours. Skip step 5 if you do not refrigerate your poolish.
  1. Remove poolish from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 3 – 4 hours.  It should have tripled in volume.  Use within 4 hours, before it begins to deflate.

Bread Dough

  1. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and let sit until the yeast looks “milky”, about 5 minutes then add the poolish.
  1. Meanwhile, combine the flours in a bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles sand.
  1. Add the sugar, salt and flour mixture to the yeast and mix until a dough forms (about 4 minutes on low with a dough hook), scraping down the sides of the bowl often.  Continue mixing until a wet and tacky dough has formed (about 2 additional minutes at medium speed).
  1. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat all sides and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel.  Let rise until an indentation remains when lightly pressed with a fingertip, about 45 – 60 minutes.
  1. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it into thirds like a letter.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until an indentation remains when lightly pressed with a fingertip, about 15 minutes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F (use of a baking stone is useful but not necessary).  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  1. Uncover the dough and lightly dust both sides with semolina flour.  Gently roll or pat out the dough to about ½-inch thickness (take care not to deflate the dough too much).  Using English muffin rings or a pastry/pizza wheel, punch or cut to the desired shape (about 3-inches wide).
  1. Place the muffins on one prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest for 15 minutes.
  1. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Taking care not to crowd the pan, cook the muffins in batches until both sides are browned.  Place cooked muffins on clean prepared baking sheet.
  1. Bake muffins until the internal temperature reads 205°F, about 6 – 8 minutes.
  1. Remove from the hot baking sheet and let cool on a rack before slicing.
About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
6 Grain Muffins

Ruthie’s 6 Grain Muffins

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes

Lazy Saturday? Why not whip up a batch of these delicious, healthy muffins? Using a granular cereal gives these muffins a bit of bite while adding a beautiful flavor—not to mention the nutritional boost! Balancing the whole grains in the cereal by using white flour, keeps them light and delicious. Swap out the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour if you want a dense, whole grain muffin. If you don’t have our 6 Grain Cereal on hand, any whole grain granular cereal (like our Mighty Tasty or 10 Grain Hot Cereal) will do in a pinch.

6 Grain Muffins Whole Grain

Ruthie’s 6 Grain Muffins

  •     1 cup Org 6 Grain Right Stuff Cereal
  •     1-1/2 cups Sour Milk or Buttermilk
  •     1/2 cup Sugar
  •     1/3 cup Butter, soft (about 5 Tbsp)
  •     1 Egg
  •     1 cup Unbleached White Flour
  •     1 tsp Sea Salt
  •     1 tsp Baking Powder
  •     1 tsp Baking Soda

Directions

Step 1

Mix cereal and milk; allow to stand for 10 minutes while preheating oven to 400°F and assembling other ingredients. Grease a 12 serving muffin pan or line pan with paper liners.

Step 2

Combine and sift dry ingredients. Cream sugar, butter and egg together. Add dry ingredients and milk with cereal to butter mixture. Stir only until mixed.

Step 3

Spoon into prepared muffin pan. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
biscuit2

Bob’s Favorite Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes

When asked what his favorite whole grain food was, Bob was quick to tell me “any heavy, whole grain bread- especially if it’s toasted and has butter. The heavier the better.” Of course, as soon as he finished that thought, he started singing the praises of our bakery’s scratch buttermilk biscuits. These, he said, were a close second when topped with Marion berry jam. If you can’t get into our store, you can bake these amazing, fluffy, flaky biscuits at home!

Biscuits buttermilk whole wheat

Bob’s Red Mill Bakery Buttermilk Biscuits

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Step 2
Mix unbleached white flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and sea salt thoroughly.

Step 3
Add butter and mix until evenly distributed.

Step 4
Add buttermilk slowly, mixing until a dough forms that is slightly sticky.

Step 5
Roll dough out on a heavily floured surface, sprinkle on 1 – 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal, and cut with a 2-1/2 – 3 inch cutter.

Step 6
Place biscuits on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 2 dozen biscuits.
*To make your biscuits look like the picture above, omit the flaxseed meal.

About The Author
Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
Share this article:
bread

Bread Starters Part One: Preferments

by Sarah House in Featured Articles, Whole Grains 101

Here at Bob’s Red Mill, we love good bread, especially when it’s made with whole grains.  Do you know what we love even more?  Good whole grain bread that has flavor, loft, chewy crumb and hearty crust.  Sure, you can throw together some flour, water, salt and yeast and make a perfectly acceptable loaf.  But with a little bit of natural action (known as fermentation) your loaf can go from good to extraordinary!

In this series, we’ll explore the different types of starters and how to use them, incorporating whole grains, to produce the best bread you’ve ever made.  Once you go starter, you’ll never go back!

You may ask yourself: what is a starter?  Answer: magic.  Kinda.  Starters are fermented cultures much like beer, wine, yogurt, kombucha, coffee and chocolate (betcha didn’t know about those last two, huh?).  The natural yeasts and bacteria that surround us in the air and on the surface of grains are allowed to grow and multiply and create a bubbly little environment that, due to their carbon dioxide output, will give your bread strength, moisture, extended shelf life, color, chewier crumb and fabulously complex flavors.

If starters seem a bit intimidating, using a preferment will be a great big baby step into the world of natural yeast cultures.  Preferments are similar to sours and levains and provide many of the same benefits.  They also have a limited life, so there is no obligation to remember to feed them and keep them alive.  Essentially, a portion of the flour, water and yeast are mixed and allowed to ferment for up to 48 hours before tossing it in with your bread dough.

Let’s begin with two of the easiest preferments:  pâte fermentée and sponges.

Pâte Fermentée, which sounds so fancy and sophisticated, is essentially old dough.  That’s right, old dough.  And it’s so easy!  If you bake bread daily or every-other-day simply pinch off 1 – 2 oz of dough per loaf and save it in the refrigerator.  The next day, toss that same ratio of dough into the fresh batch you’re currently mixing.  You are not going to notice a huge flavor boost but the gluten strength, moisture and crumb will definitely benefit.

A sponge is another super easy and approachable preferment.  With the sponge method, a portion of the flour, water and yeast are mixed together and allowed to sit at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes.  This mixture will begin to rise just like bread dough and you will see a marked difference in the height of the final baked bread.  To use a sponge, follow this formula:  from your bread recipe use 30% of the total flour for the sponge.  Add an equal amount (by weight) of water and all or half of the yeast.  You’ll know your sponge is ripe and ready to use when the batter is slightly bubbly.  Add this sponge with your remaining liquid ingredients and proceed with your recipe as usual.

Rye Bread Sponge Starter

Bob’s Red Mill Rye Bread Mix made with the standard method (L) compared to the mix made with the sponge method (R).  The sponge method has more height, an even crust and a more open crumb.

Sponge

Prepare 30 – 60 minutes before baking.

Flour                30% of the total flour from your bread recipe

Water              equal weight as 30% of total flour

Yeast               50 – 100% of total yeast

About The Author
Sarah House Google: Sarah House
Share this article: