Wholemeal Goodness in a Loaf

As you know, I’ve been in a bread-baking mode ever since I got  my bread machine.

Wholemeal bread made with bread machine
Wholemeal bread made with bread machine

I’ve had it for a few months now and I’ve made bread for my aunts and mom who are often surprised that homemade bread tastes rather good and yes, it is possible to make bread at home.
See? That’s one myth de-bunked and thrown out of the window.
After years and years of eating commercial breads, we think making bread is like climbing the Great Wall of China. Possible only for the mad ones. Our breads will never taste like store-bought breads.
Our breads, the homemade kind, will taste even BETTER than store-bought bread. And have less preservatives.
And it tastes gobs better because at least we made it. Artisan bread – though in this case – bread machine bread can also lay its claim to fame as semi-artisan bread.
Actually truthfully, I was pretty unconvinced too about homemade bread. I had the same thoughts as my aunts and mom before I embarked on this bread-making craze. (By the way, if you’re not a fan of loaves and such, how about a cinnamon bread roll recipe? Pretty darn good.)
I always thought it would be hard to replicate commercial bread. I had tried the European types of breads and while I enjoyed a good chew, I am frankly a Malaysian at heart.
I’ve been brought up on soft bread – the softer, the better. Like pillows, you know.
Although European breads are what I go for sometimes, nothing can beat a real pillow-soft bun or bread. Top that with dabs of good butter and my breakfast is all set and done!
So it was very much a surprise that I managed to make good loaves of bread using my bread machine.
Yummy wholemeal bread sliced
Yummy wholemeal bread, sliced

The thing about commercial bread is its preservatives (yes, mentioning it for a second time!).
I somehow feel that if I could make my own breads, I can at least control a little less preservatives going into my body. I am not a super health freak but I am trying my best not to ingest too much preservatives.
With homemade bread, you can only keep them out on the kitchen counter for 2 days maximum. Otherwise, they will go moldy. I have bought and left commercial bread out for more than 5 days and still they never went moldy!
Actually this recipe preceded the cinnamon roll recipe by a long way. I started experimenting with wholemeal bread before doing all those fancier bread.
So this wholemeal bread is a sure winner – I have not made this the traditional way with lots of kneading and such. I do know that if you have a bread machine, it is easy and though not exactly fast (3 hours is what it needs), you can make start making it early in the morning (say 5am if you have a pre-set timer on the bread machine) and by 8am, you have bread for breakfast! How cool is that!
OK, onwards with the recipe which I’ve tried for a few times now. Like all homemade bread, it tastes great the moment it pops out of the bread machine. Once it cools enough to slice, you can have it with butter.
Then you need to put it into an airtight plastic container (Daiso sells bread containers for RM5 which fits the bread machine loaf just nice) and you can leave it at room temperature for a day at best. You should place the bread into the fridge the next day if you don’t want mold.
The next day, just lightly toast your bread and you will have a nice, crisp toast for breakfast. Or use the leftover bread to make bread pudding. It’s all up to you how you choose to eat or upcycle your bread.
Wholemeal Bread Recipe
Note: This is a soft textured wholemeal bread. There are 2 parts to this bread. Mix Part 1, cover and let it proof in a warm corner for 90 minutes. Then you can put the ingredients for Part 2 into your bread machine and add in Part 1 and let the machine knead and bake the bread (3 hours duration).
Part 1: Mix these ingredients to form a dough. Cover and proof for 90 minutes.

  • 120 gm wholemeal flour
  • 85 gm bread flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 130 ml water

Into your bread machine, place ingredients for Part 2 in this particular order.

  • 50 ml water
  • 10 gm milk powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 gm caster sugar
  • 85 gm bread flour

Add the proofed dough from Part 1. Set your machine for “Basic” and let it knead and mix. About 5 minutes later, open up your machine and add 15 gm of softened butter.
Then let your machine do the rest.
In 3 hours’ time, you will have perfectly baked soft wholemeal bread!
Enjoy this recipe and let me know how it turns out!
(Just in case you want those European chewy bread, here’s a no-knead bread recipe from a friend. If you want to roll up your sleeves and knead some bread, here’s a rosemary raisin bread recipe. And for more bread recipes, you can check out this friend’s blog. He bakes bread. And if you like chef Michael Smith, you might want to check out one of his recipes which I managed to scribble down one night after watching his TV programme.)
Next up, I shall share with you a soft as silk, milky and buttery loaf called a Pullman Loaf.

Presenting My Rosemary Raisin Bread

Doesn’t my bread look glorious?
Yup, after 35 minutes in the oven (160 C), it came out nicely baked. I brushed some butter on the top while it was still warm. Made them into 9 buns as you can see.
But the texture was perfect unlike my other bread experiments.
Thanks BG for giving me back my confidence in breadmaking, using the traditional kneading method!
Here’s a tip from BG: Homemade bread will not be as soft as store bought bread. It will harden if left out in the open. It’s best to keep this bread in an airtight container in the fridge. To eat, just bring it to room temperature or warm it lightly in the oven at a very low heat. This homemade bread will be chewy but nothing beats homemade bread – it’s the satisfaction that you have made this bun/roll/bread on your own that makes it taste so damn good!

Back into Bread-making Mode

Since today is a public holiday, I decided to make some bread. Yes, I am back into THAT mode again. I think it’s because BG gave me some kind words and encouraged me to try his pre-ferment or biga or sponge method which he says is easy peasy.
OK, and since I love easy peasy breads and since my other attempts were so-so lah, I decided to try again.
You see, I hate failing. I know. No one likes failing right? But me, I think I do not deserve to fail especially when it comes to something like breadmaking. Granted, I am not the best chef in the world but I can bloody hell cook other stuff….sarawak laksa, boil soups my grandma would give the thumbs up to, make curry puffs the old fashioned way – you know, using fingers to fold the edges one by one and not using some plastic curry puff crimper (a legacy of my mom’s I assure you).
So why not bread?
Today, I made pre-ferment bread. I haven’t baked it yet as it’s still rising. But I will alert you the moment it comes out of the oven. It’s worse than waiting for PMR results man. Nailbiting intense.
OK, to make this pre-ferment bread, you work on it the night before. I won’t repeat BG’s instructions so you head on over to his blog and steal his recipe haha.
I did add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary (which I dug out from somewhere in the cabinet) and a handful of raisins.
And I kneaded vigorously, so vigorously that BG would be extremely proud of me. For 30 minutes, I pulled, pushed, twisted the bread dough. And sweat I did. It was a workout for the arms!
So now it’s merrily rising away for an hour before I take it out, punch it down and give it a second rise for 45 minutes before it goes into a preheated oven for a good baking.
This time though, I used plain flour for the pre-ferment stage but I bought high gluten flour (Nona brand, called Top Flour) to try out.
Let’s all cross fingers for my Raisin Rosemary Pre-Ferment Bread!
* But before I forget, a big shout out and thank you to Dotty who posted to me a lovely Anne Geddes Baby Names Keepsake! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are too sweet.

** I was surfing about for bread recipes and stumbled onto this white bread recipe which is terribly funny and very detailed on each ingredient.