Struan bread is a traditional bread, and project of the month at BBB, hosted by Elle at Feeding my Enthusiasms. It’s origins are in the Michaelmas harvest celebration of Western Scotland, where it was made only one time a year on September 28, using whatever harvested ingredients. A bread ritual, a harvest fair, dedicated to the archangel of harvest. There is a deeper meaning. Peter Reinhart includes a new recipe in each of his bread books he published.
He wrote: “The name struan comes from the Gaelic sruthan, which means “a convergence of streams.” At Brother Juniper’s Bakery this was the signature loaf and our top-selling bread by far. I’ve come to think of it as a metaphor as much as a bread: the metaphor of me (and all of us, really) – yes, a convergence of steams.”
His latest book, Bread Revolution, is entirely dedicated to sprouted, whole and ancient grains flours. It is groundbreaking and innovative in his efforts in forging new techniques to extract the full flavor, as well as nutritional benefits, of whole grains. I have this book since its debut in 2014. The limiting factor for a home baker is the supply of sprouted flours. In addition to sprouted whole wheat flour, this recipe calls for sprouted corn flour, sprouted rolled oats and sprouted brown rice flour, not the kind of flours you normally find in supermarkets. Sprouting small amount of these three non-wheat flours is not practical. So I substituted with their non-sprouted counterparts. Nonetheless, I managed to get some sprouted whole wheat flour (87% of total flour weight).
|Raisin and cinnamon added big flavor|
A few days ago, I found the sprouted wheat flour, a new product from King Arthur Flour (KAF), on sale in the local market. Without any hesitation, I grabbed all the bags and emptied the shelf. These are made from wheat berries, sprouted, dried and milled to unlock the nutritional goodness of whole grains, making them easier to digest. The unit price of sprouted flour is at least 200-250% more expensive than that of all-purpose flour. It’s understandable, given the time and extra steps it takes to process the flour. I sprouted rye, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth to make breads, mostly using them as sprouts (or vegetables), and as supporting players (no more than 25% of flour weight) in the bread dough. To germinate grains and seeds and turn them into sprouted flour is a multi-phase process that takes considerable time.
It is a whole new level using sprouted whole wheat flour close to 90% of total flour weight, as in this struan bread. (The rest consists of non-wheat flour: corn and brown rice flour.) Sprouted wheat is cast as the main character and a key player in the recipe. I don’t have the setup to mill this much sprouted flour in my home kitchen. It’s much easier to grab all I could from the supermarket, leaving more time for baking.
The good news is that more sprouted grains are showing up in the local supermarket. I hope the trend continues. Hopefully, the supply/demand imperatives will lower the prices of sprouted flours.
I made a few changes to the recipe. Added 10% sourdough starter (100% hydration) to the dough, more as a flavoring agent than a leavener, and subtracted the amount of instant yeast by 1/2 teaspoon. (I would like to use sourdough starter exclusively once I gain more experience in baking with sprouted flours.)
The sprouted flour seemed to be very thirsty, although less so than regular whole wheat flour. You can’t tell that water and buttermilk made up about 87% of the flour weight. The dough did not feel sticky at all. I kept my hands super wet as I performed series of stretch and fold. The dough was quite easy to work with. With 13% protein level in the sprouted wheat flour, according to KAF, the dough strengthened as expected with each incremental stretch and fold.
Another change to the recipe was the addition of everyone’s favorite raisins and cinnamon combo to impart more flavor and sweetness, and with favorable results.
I put the shaped dough in the refrigerator for a cold retard. I wonder if the cold retard works or hurts this dough? (My next project!) The dough rose somewhat, but less than 1 1/2 times as described in the recipe. I left them out on the counter as the oven was preheating. Oven spring was minimal when the loaves hit the oven (at 350°F). It took a full hour before the internal temperature reached 190°F.
I broke out in a happy dance; this was my first attempt. I got a respectable struan bread, which was almost all whole grains but without tasting like one. All of its nutritional benefits, and none of the dense crumb and mildly bitter harsh note of whole-wheat bread. The bread is moist and tender. The flavor is sweet and nutty. It has superb eating quality with a very pleasing mouthfeel, as compared to most whole-wheat breads. The bread is gone in record time.
As I eat this bread, I understand why baking with sprouted flours is the “new frontier,” according to Peter Reinhart, and a convergence of sorts, for me. Certain beliefs and techniques that I’ve held true are challenged. It’s a game changer. A new chapter has started, raising expectations of what’s feasible and attainable. I’m buying into baking with sprouted whole-wheat flours, in high percentages and with increasing confidence. I can see why this is a top selling bread at Brother Juniper’s Bakery. This could be a master formula for an everyday sandwich bread.
- Incredible taste and texture with 90% whole-wheat grain
- No preferment
- No soaker
- No need for high-gluten flour
- No need for all-purpose flour
- No long extended fermentation
- My starter is still a valuable player, but in a minor role
- Sprouted whole-wheat flour takes a commanding center stage and does it all
|87% sprouted whole wheat with cornmeal, rolled oats, rice flour and cooked rice|