It’s your weekly grocery run and you’ve come upon the bread section. Your eyes skim the varieties until they find that rustic brown colour which just screams “Healthy!” Feeling satisfied that you’ve made a good nutritional choice, you conclude your shopping and get ready to enjoy buttered toast and sandwiches for the next few days.
But does brown really mean it’s better? If you’re automatically equating “brown” with whole wheat/atta, you may have to take a closer look at the ingredients. Most of these breads are only 50% atta at the most, and use additives to produce that healthful looking colour.
At Old Madras Baking Company however, our whole wheat and cereal breads have a prefix that will take you from satisfied in your healthy choice to downright smug: 100%! That means our breads are made from 100% atta or whole wheat flour rather than a blend of flours. Successfully baking bread out of 100% atta can be incredibly difficult, but we at OMBC Chennai and Hyderabad are committed to making fresh, all natural, clean-label breads, and passing off a flour blend as “Whole Wheat” just doesn’t jive with our credo. We also don’t believe in compromising on taste: soft, chewy, and earthy, these breads pair equally well with butter and jam or savoury sandwich fillings.
So why exactly is whole wheat popular amongst the health-conscious, and why is it harder to bake with? Here’s a breakdown:
- What differentiates whole wheat from white flour is that the former contains germ and bran—hearing that “Healthy!” scream again aren’t you? This time it’s accurate, with germ and bran bringing a slew of good stuff like zinc, magnesium, and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibre. (Source)
- Germ and Bran are like your hippie cousins who grew up eating carrot sticks while you gorged on potato chips. You know they’re healthy and they have a pleasant nuttiness to them, but they can be annoying. In the baker’s case, the annoyance comes from the sponge-like way they soak up water. This can result in a dry and crumbly loaf.
- How do we handle this? By using more water! A lot more water. While white bread can be made with a baker’s percentage (ratio of water as a percent of the flour weight) of 60%, wheat bread can require 90% to up to 130%—the dough in this case would look more like a soup!
- There are other modifications, like ensuring not to over-knead, because the bran is sharp enough to cut the gluten strands, and giving it more time to rise, because bran and germ come with some heavy baggage man.
It’s a tricky process for sure, but a labour of love that our bakery undertakes with pride. Because in a world where looks can be deceiving, we believe food should remain honest. Don’t you?
*If you’d like to enjoy our clean-label, preservative-free breads every day, you can subscribe to our delivery service. And remember our breads freeze beautifully: just slice, freeze, and pop a piece into the toaster straight from the freezer with no thawing required!