Later, chatting with a friend about whole wheat bread options in Bangalore, we talked about Daily Bread. Among other things, they sell a brown bread and a whole wheat bread. I had looked up the ingredients of brown bread (which appears to be white flour with a little whole wheat flour and some coloring agent that turns the bread miraculously brown!), wasn’t impressed and had naively assumed that the whole wheat bread was made of what it was meant to be made of. After this chat, I looked up the ingredients and was surprised at how many chemicals were listed. Also, it wasn’t clear how much whole wheat was actually present. So I just went off bread for many months.
I love to eat bread with my tea, especially bread toasted with butter. I missed my toast. The cuppa wasn’t as much fun anymore. So I decided to move my butt and bake my own. My first whole wheat recipe was from a friend’s sister-in-law and I baked a small loaf, so solid that cutting it was not easy. Apparently she meant it when she said the dough should be sloppier than the regular roti-dough we mix. I had ignored that point and did not like sticky hands, so the loaf was a brick. The next one was better but it still wasn’t fun with tea (that was my goal – to bake bread that I can have with my tea :)).
Around this time, I visited the bakery in Auroville and got a chance to watch them knead and bake. It was good to see how hydrated the dough needs to be, as I was still making doughs that were less hydrated. Then I bought a copy of Whitley’s book and bread making apart, it makes a good read about the state of bread today. I got attached to one particular sponge-and-dough recipe that uses very little yeast and an overnight sponge. The bread turned out tasty. And the breads have been turning out quite tasty over time. I recently got myself a couple of Reinhart's books and they've got some nice whole wheat/grain breads as well. And most of them go so well with my tea - life is good :)
Here are some pictures from my baking experiments: