Fiber in Bread

I recently got a bread machine, and I'm looking for ways to add more fiber to my bread recipes. I'm wondering what ingredients have a lot of fiber…and how much of them I should add to get at least 4 grams of fiber in each slice of bread. —J.A., New Freedom, Pennsylvania

One way to increase the fiber content in a bread recipe is to substitute higher-fiber flour for some of the white flour. White bread flour has about 1.5 grams of fiber per half cup. The same amount of whole wheat flour, oat flour or medium rye flour has 7.5 grams. Other high-fiber flour options include those made from soy or barley… or specialty flours such as spelt (an ancient cereal grain native to southern Europe), amaranth (a highly nutritious green annual once considered a weed in the U.S.) and quinoa (a staple of the ancient Inca Indians, now hailed as the "super grain" of the future). These flours, available in health food stores or larger groceries, usually include recipes or suggestions on the packaging for their use. The higher-fiber flours do not form gluten, however, as bread flour or all-purpose flour do. The result is a denser loaf that does not rise as high. But a product called "vital gluten", found near specialty flours on grocery shelves, will fix that. Two tablespoons added to a 3-cup flour loaf will enhance the rise and texture of the bread. These specialty flours may also alter the water-binding capacity of your dough. Check your dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed.

Another option is to add wheat bran to your recipe. Wheat bran is 100% wheat; 1/4 cup will add 7 grams of fiber to your loaf. Wheat bran should be included with the flour as you are adding the ingredients in the order suggested by the bread machine manufacturer. Seeds that add flavor and give texture to bread are another way to boost fiber. Two tablespoons of sesame, poppy, caraway or sunflower seeds will each add 1-2 grams of fiber. For even more, try flaxseed—2 tablespoons adds 6 grams of fiber. Make these additions when your bread machine gives the audible alert, signaling the beginning of the final knead cycle, so that the seeds are gently mixed into the dough. These are just a few of the many ways to boost the fiber in your bread.