Ok, so the “whole wheat,” and even the “100% whole wheat” stuff at the grocery store is fake. But there is hope. Really.
When I started learning to bake bread, I found a lot of sources that said “Whole wheat bread won’t rise. You have to blend in some white flour too.” Then I found sources that said you don’t need white flour, you just have to add a little wheat gluten to make it rise. I thought that was kind of weird, because surely they made bread before refining methods were so… um, refined. Right?
If you’re lucky, you live near a Great Harvest Bread Company. This place is where I learned, years ago, that the idea that you can’t make whole wheat bread without adding a little white flour or wheat gluten was just false.
What they told me was that if you grind your wheat fresh, it will rise, even without the added fluffers. So, right there in the little franchise bakery (there are no mega-franchises; they range from one to a few stores) they stone-grind the wheat, and the next day they bake it into fresh loaves, with an ingredient list that says something like this:
ORGANIC STONE-GROUND WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, YEAST, SALT, HONEY.
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?
I’m learning now from the folks at grain.org that the sweetner, which feeds the yeast, isn’t necessary either if you’re willing to let your bread rise a little longer, and I’m excited about their methods. But for now, Great Harvest still seems pretty darn cool.
Coming soon: Baking bread at home.