Bread and Transformation

I’ve not tried Reinhart’s baking method (even though I once had one of his books out of the library), but I like this 2008 Ted talk on the alchemical symbolism of bread. If you’re either a baking or brewing geek like me it’s worth a view.

The baking method I’ve used for over a decade is from Nancy Silverton’s book Breads from the La Brea Bakery. You use a sourdough starter and at least half the flour must be white to get it to leaven properly. I’ve had great results, but would like to someday make a loaf entirely from whole wheat with a sourdough starter. Reinhart, in his book Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor claims to be able to do just that and not end up with a hockey puck. If you’ve tried his method (and gone through his very lengthy directions) leave a comment!

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  1. Reinhart’s whole wheat hearth bread is my regular weekly bake, and it’s really reliable. The pre-ferment is naturally leavened, left overnight, then combined with the other half of the flour in the form of an overnight soaker. I sweeten it with agave nectar, and add olive oil, which probably helps shelf-life. Spread with hommus, this is a great 100% whole wheat treat.

  2. Thanks for this. My husband has been baking our bread for awhile now (several years) using the no-knead method, and while it makes an awesome white loaf, it definitely leaves much to be desired in the whole grain arena. There is a flour grinding stand at the local grocery store- you can grind up red wheat or white wheat, and we’ve tried both and definitely prefer white to red wheat, which tasted ‘good for you’. But neither turned out a great loaf, so we haven’t tried it since.

    I sent him a link to this post because I think Peter’s talk will really interest him, both in terms of the bread making, and also the beer making. The last time Steve brewed which was about two weeks or so ago, we used some of the spent grain in some peanut butter flavored dog cookies, which Rufus gets sparingly, because fiber works the opposite on dogs as it does humans. However, we threw the rest of the spent grains out on the compost pile. What a great idea to use them in bread! This will definitely interest him, so thanks for the geeky post!

  3. I find ww flour cumbersome myself – sure weighs down a loaf. Years ago when I was learning to bake, I made a whole batch out of 100% rye flour, thinking I’d get rye bread. Oops.

  4. I hadn’t heard of his method, but I get fluffy enough bread from 1005 whole wheat.

    Quite often I develop the gluten with a very watery mix in an electric mixer, then add the flour and let it rise for at least 12, maybe 24 hours.

    Whole wheat is also good in soda bread. Not necessarily the Irish sweet recipe, I just mean it sometimes pays to let a sponge sit for a very long time, and sift some baking soda into the remaining flour, mixing it just before it bakes. Not as good for you, but very reliable.

  5. I’ll second the hearth bread recipe. I posted pictures a while back on my blog, if you want to have a look at the hole structure. It’s still more dense than white bread, but that was ok, and may have had more to do with the variety of wheat we were using than anything else.

  6. I just found the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes technique and have been experimenting with that.

    So far, besides the 100% white flour loaf, my best results have been 2.5c white flour, 2c whole wheat flour, 2 cups brown rice flour and 1 cup sourdough starter. On a friends suggestion, I tried baking the loaf in my dutch oven and have been very happy with the results. 500*F for 30 minutes with the lid on and 15 minutes with the lid off. The loaf rises beautifully and the crust is golden.


    PS. Just found your site and am very much enjoying it. Thanks!

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