A diet high is refined carbohydrates is certainly not advisable for optimal health. Refined carbohydrates, can be found sugary snacks and baked goods made with processed white flour. Such foods are lacking in nutrients and cause undesirable swings in blood sugar levels, due to having a high glycemic index (GI). However, not all carbohydrates are created equally and carbohydrates with a lower glycemic index, such as whole grain baked goods, should not be avoided. In fact, its still recommended that 50-60% of our daily calorific intake should come from carbohydrate sources, which is good news for bakers and bread lovers!
Bread is of course very carbohydrate rich and ultimately a very healthy food. Homemade bread, made from high quality whole grains makes for a very healthy staple to include in a family diet. We, as home bakers, also have many opportunities to enrich our daily bread with heart-healthy seeds, nuts and a whole host of other good ingredients.
Here, I have created a low GI bread that is based on whole wheat flour, with other ingredients added with a view to lowering the effective GI of this bread. What I mean here is that I have slightly further reduced the GI of the whole wheat bread by replacing some of the flour content with freshly milled barley flour and gluten protein. The addition of sunflower seeds is interesting because they are not replacing any flour in the bread but they are rich in omega -6 fatty acids, which, during digestion slows the release of the carbohydrate and therefore reduces the effect of the carbohydrates on our blood sugar.
For readers who are interested in real numbers, here you can compare the glycemic index of different breads and see, by just swopping the major ingredients the GI can be significantly reduced. For example;
White wheat bread, typical GI of 71
Whole wheat bread, typical GI of 52
This whole wheat bread with added barley, has an approx GI of 51.
The non-carbohydrate components of the bread, such as the gluten and the sunflower seeds do not contribute to the GI but they do effect the way your body processes the carbohydrates and both the protein and healthy fats will slow the release of energy from the bread into your blood, thus stablising your blood sugar for longer and helping you feel full for longer.
So if you or anyone you care for has been advised to opt for lower glycemic foods, you can be reassured to know this does not mean that you have to give up on bread. Lower GI breads such as this one can be a healthy carbohydrate to enjoy throughout your day.
“Abend-Brot” (evening bread) is a very typical evening family meal in germany. Families gather late in the evening and sit down to a light meal of bread is served with a variety of cold meat, cheese and spreads. “Evening protein breads” are gradually appearing in local German shops and bakeries and appealing to those trying to curb their carbohydrate intake, particularly later in the evening. Now i would be interested to know just what goes into this protein bread but that is clearly beyond the scope of this post. But, for some reason these popular “Evening protein breads” are usually cylindrical in shape. I quite liked that idea and so here for my low GI bread I used a cylindrical cake form that I have had at the back of my cupboard for longer than I can remember. Of course this bread can be made in your regular loaf tin, or as a free form loaf.
Lower GI bread recipe
Makes 1 large sandwich loaf
560g whole wheat flour
100g whole barley flour, either freshly milled or store bought if available.
75g Vital gluten (found in healthfood stores)
370g warm water
7g dried yeast
25g agave syrup
100g sunflower seeds
20g Cocoa (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)
- Combine the flours and the water and leave to fully hydrate for 20minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine, the addition of cocoa is just to give the bread an extra dark brown colour.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes using an electric mixer with a dough hook or by hand. Finsih the kneading process by stretching and folding the dough several times until you have a nice supple elastic dough.
- Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour, or until at least doubled in size.
- Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a slightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Roll the dough up into a log and, if you choose, roll in sesame seeds to coat all sides. Place in a sandwich loaf pan or a proving basket if you would rather bake your loaf as a free form loaf. Leave to re-rise for about 45 minutes or until almost doubled. Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees C.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 250 degrees C ad then reduce the heat and bake for a further 35-40 minutes or until hollw when tapped. Allow to cool.