Pain au Son

When I started milling my own flour last fall I suddenly had a windfall of wheat bran.  Many of the breads I made would use 100% whole wheat flour, but others might call for 80% or 90% extraction flour.  This means that you turn the total weight of wheat berries into a certain smaller percentage of flour.  When I mill 100 grams of wheat berries I get almost exactly 100 grams of flour to start.  But I can choose to sift out some of the bran, say 10 grams worth, to leave me with 90 grams total of flour, or a 90% extraction rate.

DSCN3015Using slightly less bran can help create a smoother dough and one that rises better.  Over the past few months though I have built up a formidable store of bran in the freezer.  Pain au son is a French bran bread that serves as a delicious and easy way to use up this accumulated wheat bran.  I’ve made it twice in the last few weeks and have found it to be a fantastic sandwich bread that holds its shape well without being overly dense.

The French take their bread very seriously, and the bread must actually be at least 25% bran to be referred to as pain au son.  My fiancée and I are heading to France in June for 2.5 weeks on our honeymoon, and I look forward to trying any bread I can get my hands on.

DSCN3016Don’t expect this bread to get a great (or any) oven spring, so be patient when it is proofing to make sure it can fully rise.  The second time I make this I wasn’t as willing to wait, and ended up with a flatter, denser, loaf.  Still tasty, but not ideal.

DSCN3013I think what I really like about this loaf is that it doesn’t taste like it has almost 2 cups of wheat bran in it.  The honey helps counteract the potentially overwhelming earthy-ness of the bran and it ends up tasting just like any other light wheat loaf.  Enjoy!


Pain au Son – Makes 1 loaf


Ingredient Amount Percentage
AP Flour 320 g (2 ½ C) 63%
Whole Wheat Flour 190 g (1 ½ C) 37%
Wheat Bran 130 g (1 ¾ C) 25%
Water 450 g (2 C) 88%
Honey 60 g (3 T) 12%
Yeast 5 g (1 ½ t) 1%
Salt 10 g (2 t) 2%


Combine flour, water, and wheat bran in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for 2 minutes, until there are no dry bits of flour.  Let rest for 30 minutes.

Following the rest add in the honey, salt, and yeast and knead for 5-7 minutes, until a smooth dough has formed that clears the sides of the bowl.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1.5 to 2 hours.  Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out to 6×8 inches.  Form the loaf by rolling up the length of the dough (working from the short side).  With each full rotation pinch the creases to create a bit of surface tension.  As you roll it will get a bit longer as well, just make sure that when you place it in the pan it touches each edge.  Place in the loaf pan and cover; let rise for 1.5 hours, or until the dough crests the top of the pan.  After 1 hour preheat the oven to 375 F.

Bake in a 375 F oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway through.  Let cool for 2 hours before slicing.

Recipe adapted from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World.

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