Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bonus recipe: Mega-Fiber Health Bread

It's been over three years now since our old bread machine bit the dust, and rather than replacing it, Brian opted to start making all our bread by hand. So now, whenever we start coming toward the end of our current batch of bread, he routinely asks me what type I'd like to have next. Sometimes I request a specific kind we have a recipe for (like honey oatmeal or rye); other times, I just describe the sort of bread I'd like and he invents a recipe from scratch. This is how he ended up developing his Granola Bread, one of his tastiest creations.

Last time he put this question to me, I said I'd like a bread with plenty of fiber, because I thought it would do me good to get more of that on a regular basis. Brian apparently took this as a challenge and decided to see just how much fiber he could cram into a single loaf of bread. And the answer, apparently, is "loads."

He started with a basic whole-wheat bread and then threw in every high-fiber ingredient he could think of: whole oats, wheat bran, and even some finely ground flaxseeds. The result was a very heavy and dark, yet not unpalatable loaf, with a hearty wheat flavor and a dense, chewy texture. And it sure will keep your digestive tract humming along.

So I'm calling this recipe
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1 3/4 c. warm water, 2 Tbsp. yeast, 2 tsp. salt, 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 1/4 c. canola oil.
  2. Stir in 1 c. wheat bran, 1 c. quick-cooking oats, 1/4 c. (or so) brown flaxseed ground to a powder, 2 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour, and 2 Tbsp. gluten flour (absolutely crucial if you want this bread to rise).
  3. Knead this for a long time—at least 10 minutes. At first it will seem like there's no way it will ever cohere, but just keep at it, and eventually it will start to form a recognizable dough.
  4. Divide it and put it into two loaf pans. Allow it to rise anywhere from 1 to 4 hours—this dense dough takes a long time to double in size. Punch down the dough (or, as Brian prefers, take it out and fold it in half to make something more loaf-shaped), return it to the pans, and let it rise again.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes.
This recipe makes two loaves, and each loaf is good for about 15 slices. So according to the SparkPeople recipe calculator, one slice of this bread has about 80 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber.

For purposes of comparison, I looked up regular whole-wheat bread, "prepared from recipe," on the same site, and it claims that one slice of that has 2.8 grams of fiber—actually a little bit more than Brian's bread. I found that a bit hard to believe, since this is one very hefty bread; I didn't see how any standard whole-wheat bread recipe could possibly trump it for fiber content. But then I checked the calorie content and found that it reckoned a regular slice of whole-wheat bread at 127 calories, so I concluded that it must be talking about a bigger slice. The pieces we cut are probably closer in size to a "thin slice," with 91 calories and 2 grams of fiber. Which means Brian's bread is both "lighter" (if you can apply that term to anything so heavy) and more fiber-rich.

So for anyone who's looking for an easy way to add more fiber to your diet, two slices of this every morning will start off your day with 5.5 grams—well on your way to the 30 grams a day that experts say can take off pounds, lower your blood pressure, and do all kinds of other marvelous stuff like magic. And even if your weight and blood pressure are fine, this is a good recipe for anyone who just likes a bread you can really get your teeth into.
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