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Saturday, October 29, 2011

100% Whole Wheat Bread + Shirley J Dough Enhancer

category:  baking

packaging:  Handy little container with indents for easy grabbing.  Pleasant, but not necessarily eye-catching.

about/claim:  Strengthens the gluten structure (and improves the texture) of homemade bread.  Adding 1 Tbs. of Shirley J Dough Enhancer for every 6 cups of whole wheat flour in a bread recipe (immediately after oil and before water) is supposed to strengthen the gluten structure in the bread.  While it can be used in a recipe with all-purpose flour as well, the results won't be as noticeable.

similar to:  vital wheat gluten

ingredients:  sweet dairy whey, soy lecithin, corn starch, ascorbic acid, salt, silicon dioxide, spices, fructose and corn oil.

my thoughts/review:  The first thing I want to talk about is the scent.  It may sound odd, but there are spices added to the enhancer.  When my daughter (nose of a bloodhound, that one) took a whiff, she proclaimed, "it smells like the flavor packet in ramen noodles."  Huh.  I smelled it again and had to agree.  This definitely made me wonder if that would have any impact on the flavor of the bread...and if it would be suitable for using in a sweet bread or roll.  I'm happy to report that the loaf did not taste like ramen noodle broth.  No verdict on the sweet bread yet, I haven't tested it out in one (but the information packet on this product says it can be used in from scratch cakes and brownies successfully, so I'm guessing the results would be the same).

Since this is the claim, I decided to make two loaves of 100% Whole Wheat bread; one as written, one using the enhancer.  While I was able to note a hint of difference, if you weren't looking for it specifically, I don't think that difference would have been noticeable.  In the photos, the loaf on the right side is the one containing the dough enhancer.  Throughout the whole process of making the bread, from the mixing of the dough, to the rising, to the final product, the most noticeable thing is the difference in color (and even that isn't prominent).  The dough/loaf using the enhancer is a bit lighter in color.   The second thing is the testing of the claim that the dough enhancer strengthens the gluten structure.  I did notice a somewhat firmer, tighter, higher result in the enhanced dough.  If you look at the pictures, you may be able to make it out.  I just didn't find it different enough from the "regular" loaf to shout praises from the rooftops.

This is the only loaf I have made so far.  Although my results weren't spectacular, I will continue to toy with it and see if I get more impressive results with any other projects.  If I will do, I will give you an update that reflects my findings.  Try it for yourself, you never know.

100% Whole Wheat Bread
slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour 
yield: 1 loaf

¼ c. vegetable oil
½ Tbs. Shirley J Dough Enhancer (optional)*
1 - 1 ¼ c. lukewarm water [use greater amnt in winter/dry climate & lesser in summer/humid climate]
¼ c. honey
3 ½ c. 100% Whole Wheat Flour
2½ tsp. instant yeast [or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 Tbs. of the water in the recipe]
¼ c.  nonfat dried milk
1 ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
butter, at room temp. (optional)

 In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except butter) and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 - 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for "dough" or "manual.") This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 - 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Punch dough down, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8" log. Place the log in a lightly greased loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 - 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1" above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 35 - 40 minutes, tenting lightly with foil after 20 minutes, if the crust is starting too look too dark. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

*If using the Shirley J Dough Enhancer, add oil to bowl first, then add dough enhancer, then add water.  Proceed with recipe as stated.  Liquids should be at ~120°-130° F.

*I received a free container of Shirley J dough enhancer to test/review.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine. 
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