Whole grain and multi-grain breads are healthier. You know that.
But do you still find yourself craving a soft, white loaf of bread?
Maybe you just wish for the sweet, white bread and suffer through the whole grain.
It doesn't need to be like that – you can learn to love whole wheat and multi-grain bread just as much as the white bread.
Why We Like White Bread So Much
To understand this, you have to look at the history of bread. Humans have made bread for thousands of years and it's been 100% whole grain, sourdough fermented bread. It took a long time to make, usually started the day before, if not longer.
It was rich, tasty, full of flavor. Most of the time, leftover bits of vegetables and fruits got mixed in.
It contained an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and it indeed was a staple of most people's diets because it was genuinely nutritious.
But, it did contain a bit of grittier particles. The rich were able to mill the grain finer to create smoother and soft bread.
That milling eventually removed the coarse bran altogether, leaving behind the white starch that created white bread.
This bread was much less nutritious, having almost no nutrition whatsoever. But, the rich often ate more meat and vegetables to compensate.
In the early 1900s, milling technology advanced, so producing white flour became cheap and reliable. The middle and lower classes gravitated towards this white flour to make white bread to mimic what the rich had.
But, this nutritionally deficient bread robbed people of many of the nutrients they needed to be healthy. People got sick from nutritional deficiencies. That's why all white commercial flour these days are required by law to have iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate added into it. It was the minimum amount necessary to avoid a crippled working population.
Whole grain bread faded from most people's lives.
Now, every generation alive grew up eating white bread. It's a cultural habit now. You like white bread because you are used to eating white bread. The idea of what bread should be is white, fluffy, and soft.
And it's a bit sweeter. Made of 99% sugary starches, white bread has a sweetness that most people gravitate to.
What To Expect From Whole Wheat And Multi-Grain Bread
When you switch over to whole wheat and whole grain bread, many people expect the same sweetness, softness, and fluffiness they get out of white bread and whole-grain bread. That's why it causes so much disappointment.
The bran also is much richer, imparting more bitter and astringent flavors to the bread.
Overall, whole wheat and whole grain breads feel heavier, taste richer and thicker, and tend to have a grittier feeling as you chew it. The bran retains much more water and adds more weight and roughness.
And that's okay.
More small bakers are swinging to the long fermentation process of sourdough to overcome this. Sourdough adds more acidity and bite to the bread, bringing a whole new dimension of taste to it.
Sourdough also helps the bread to have a very crispy outer crust and a small, fluffy interior.
The different types of grains that make up whole wheat and multi-grain bread add other flavors. There will be several taste overtones of nuttiness, milkiness, acidity, and other flavorings as the grain content changes.
Many artisanal breads have fruit and vegetables mixed in, increasing the nutrition and different tastes you can get.
Taste Testing & Finding Your Favorites
Trying different loaves of bread is the best way to start learning what you like and how different many of them can be.
Know that the different whole grain and multi-grain breads will taste much different than your standard white bread. You will not find whole wheat or whole grain bread that's just like white bread.
When you start taste testing, don't be shy. If available, visit a local bakery to get fresh, high-quality bread. If not, choose freshly baked bread from your local grocery bakery section.
Whole grain bread goes bad fast because it has more nutritional value and fewer preservatives. You shouldn't expect it to last more than 2 or 3 days. If it lasts longer than that, you have a higher number of preservatives and chemicals.
And finally, keep trying different varieties. The taste will change depending on the baker, grain content, and baking style. You can find different varieties that meet your needs in many different places.
We hope you give whole wheat and multi-grain a better chance, knowing it will be richer and heavier than white bread. Then, you can save the white bread for special occasions.