What Makes a Great Whole Wheat Bread?

Whole wheat bread is a healthier and more flavorful alternative to white bread. Its sweet, toasted notes add a little extra intrigue to sandwiches and breakfast favorites like French toast, while its fiber aids digestion and reduces cholesterol. Our chefs define high-quality wide-pan whole wheat bread as being brown to golden brown in color. It should have a toasty, fresh-from-the-oven appearance. The moderately complex aroma can include earthiness,graininess and natural sweetness from the wheat. Also possible, though not required, would be a slight richness from the germ. A hint of lactic tang from the fermentation process is expected in the aroma, but this sourness should be at a discernible level and no higher. In addition, there should be no aroma off notes from packaging, processing or unwholesome ingredients. Whole wheat bread is in taste balance when moderate sweetness is the dominant basic taste. Saltiness should follow the sweetness at a barely discernible level, and sourness and bitterness are expected at very low levels. The complex whole wheat flavor character should include toasted grains, yeast and a lactic tang. Honey notes may be evident depending on the variety, but there should be no flavor off notesor staleness. When eaten, the bread should offer a discernible resistance and an appropriatechew. The bread should cohere, or stick together, without adhering to the upper palate or teeth. There should be a good moisture level, and the bread should break down and dissolve easily.

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Tasting terms

  • sweet

    One of the basic tastes; often considered pleasing while exhibiting characteristics of sugar. Example: Honey, ripe fruits and syrup all have a pronounced sweet component.

  • appearance

    The visual quality of a food. Used to organize attributes such as color and consistency of size, it is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate food. The other dimensions are aroma, texture, flavor and taste. Example: The appearance of green olives includes attributes such as color (pale to dark) and consistency of size (inconsistent to consistent).

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • richness

    Associated with creamy and dense mouthfeel; often evident in products containing significant amounts of butter or cream. Example: Alfredo sauce, coffee and super premium ice cream can be described as rich.

  • off notes

    Inappropriate flavors, such as rancid or oxidized oils, freezer burn, plastic, metallic or other flavors acquired from a food’s packaging and storage. Example: Canned pineapple that picks up a metallic flavor from its can or stale flavors from freezer burn in a frozen entrée are types of off notes.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • character

    The combined aromas and flavors of a particular food or ingredient. The character of a food is considered simple when it is one-dimensional, but it is complex when it has many discernible ingredients. Example: Mole sauce has several ingredients that blend to give the sauce a complex character. Granulated sugar has a very simple character.

  • chew

    The texture of a food as it is being chewed, as opposed to the texture of the first bite. Example: High-quality beef jerky should be tender but have a long chew.