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Franz Bakery makes a bread that contains 35 calories a slice (the fact that it is keto is irrelevant to me, but may still be a part of the answer): https://franzbakery.com/HTML/productView#category=breads.premium&id=breads.premium.keto

They also have hamburger and hotdog buns in the same line that have only 50 calories each.

Looking at their ingredients, forgetting mold inhibitors and unnecessary preservatives since the goal is to make this at home, it doesn't seem much different from classic bread ingredients:

BREAD BASE (MODIFIED WHEAT STARCH, WHEAT GLUTEN, INULIN OR CHICORY VEGETABLE FIBER, OAT FIBER, WHEAT PROTEIN ISOLATE), WATER, SOYBEAN OIL, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: YEAST, SALT, SORBIC ACID (MOLD INHIBITOR), FULLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, DISTILLED VINEGAR, ASCORBIC ACID, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (MOLD INHIBITOR), ENZYMES.

I can tell there is a ton of fiber, since they're attempting to make keto friendly bread with 1g net carbs (12g carbs - 11g Dietary Fiber), but I'm wondering what they're doing that is making the bread so calorie friendly.

In most recipes for basic bread, a slice is usually between 100 to 200 calories per slice. I cannot (after plenty of Google search refinements) find a recipe that manages to come close.

How are they reducing the calories by at least half, and how can I do this at home instead of paying $6.50 a loaf/pack?

1
  • The calories in a slice of bread are highly dependent on the amount of air bubbles in the dough. Breads made from dense dough like bagels are highly caloric. A slice of french bread on the other hand, which is full of wholes has barely any calories.
    – aris
    Sep 20 at 18:39
14

A comparable keto bread recipe is Diedre's Ultimate Keto Bread 2.0. It uses a combination of golden flaxseed meal, oat fiber, and vital wheat gluten as the flour ingredients. I've made that recipe probably over 100 times while making different tweaks to improve on it. I've arrived at a couple different variations, and there are some tweaks that I'd recommend if you'd like to lower the calorie count.

86 g golden flaxseed meal         26.38%     86.0 g (flour)
86 g oat fiber                    26.38%     86.0 g (flour)
154 g vital wheat gluten          47.24%    154.0 g (flour)
                                 100.00%    326.0 g (total)
------------------------------------------------------------
7 g Kosher salt                    2.15%      7.0 g
16 g instant dry yeast             4.91%     16.0 g
8 g honey                          2.45%      8.0 g
280 g water                       85.89%    280.0 g

Sorry, the recipe is in grams and I don't have volumetric equivalents. The ratio of flour ingredients to each other is important, and the only reliable way to measure them is to weigh them. These are bakers percents. The top 3 ingredients are considered the flour ingredients that have a total weight of 326 grams. The percentages listed for the flour ingredients represent the proportion that the particular flour ingredient makes up in the total flour; their percentages will add up to 100%. The percents listed for the last four ingredients are based on how the weight of the particular ingredient compares to the total weight of the flour. For example, 7 g of salt divided by 326 g of flour equals .0215 or 2.15% of the weight of the flour. Bakers percentages are extremely helpful in trying to understand how non-standard recipes work. For instance, you'll always need the vital wheat gluten percent to be around 45% to 55% for it to be able to properly make bread.

Basically, I'd definitely recommend removing the xanthan gum from her recipe, as it inhibits gluten development and results in a tighter crumb. The butter in her recipe adds taste, but can be left out if calories are a concern. The 2 eggs she uses aren't strictly necessary but they may help strengthen and open up the crumb somewhat, while also helping as a drying agent (flaxseed meal and vital wheat gluten are very hygroscopic). In lieu of eggs I'll sometimes add 5% or so of resistant wheat starch or resistant corn starch though it may not be necessary. The honey serves as a source of food for the yeast, since none of the other ingredients are fermentable. Most of the honey will be consumed by the yeast so it doesn't add much to the overall carb count.

While she uses a stand mixer in her video I do want to add that it is possible to knead this by hand, though there is a bit of skill needed. Thanks to the vital wheat gluten, the dough comes together quite quickly, though it starts off somewhat slimy and sticky (from the mucilage in the flaxseed meal). Use a dough scraper to repeatedly fold it over on itself and knead into the counter. Eventually it may start to dry up and you can start kneading it by hand. It may take 10 - 15 minutes worth of kneading to develop and distribute the gluten evenly into a network that will trap the gasses of fermentation. You should be able to smear and stretch the doughball with the dough knife/scraper against the countertop and it shouldn't tear while doing so.

Unlike traditional bread, which uses a bulk fermentation and then another rise in the pan, you're better off doing a single fermentation in the bread pan (since there's not a whole lot of food). If the loaf ends up dense, it likely wasn't kneaded sufficiently.

How this recipe works: vital wheat gluten mixed with water makes a virtually solid rubbery mass. Oat fiber is a pure insoluble fiber that interferes with the gluten networks such that it prevents cross-linking and allows for air holes to develop during fermentation and baking. Flaxseed meal contains soluble fiber in the form of a mucilage network that can be woven in between the gluten network to help open up the crumb somewhat.

As far as calorie count: the recipe given is about the lowest I've been able to make it without taste suffering. Oat fiber is pure insoluble fiber meaning it has no calories, but it also tastes like cardboard (with the slightest hint of Cheerios). You can try raising it to a higher level to stretch the ingredients but taste tends to suffer. Flaxseed meal is very calorie dense: 28 g has 150 calories (from the fat). However, it's the only ingredient I've found that helps inhibit gluten development in a beneficial way (to open up the crumb).

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  • 1
    Why do your percentages not add up to 100%?
    – Daron
    Sep 21 at 12:17
  • 1
    @Daron Since we are talking about bread, these are probably baker's percentages.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 21 at 12:47
  • @rumtscho That would be my guess too. Only this is a flourless bread!
    – Daron
    Sep 21 at 12:51
  • 1
    @Daron the first three ingredients seem to be a functional replacement for standard flour in standard bread, and their percentages seem to add up to around 100.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 21 at 12:53
  • 1
    Sorry, edited to add more info about the percentages.
    – NSGod
    Sep 21 at 15:01
7

As for what they are doing, you already put your finger on it - it is the fiber. Instead of making the bread out of flour, they are basically making it out of water, and adding sufficient fiber that they get a workable texture instead of a slurry.

For doing it at home, the most workable way is to search for similar recipes. Mixing some fiber with water is not difficult, but baking it and getting the result to look, feel and taste like real bread is a complex feat of food technology. There is certainly not one trick that you can apply and get the desired result, but as in any complex process, everything you do will have to fit everything else. Even if you intend to develop a new recipe on your own, it is highly recommended that you first try out baking several recipes of this type (and getting really good at them) before you attempt to evolve them further. So look around the Internet, or get a suitable cookbook, choose your recipes, and start baking.

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  • Awesome, thank you for your contribution to the question! One issue I'm still having, that I briefly mentioned in the question and you may be able to update your answer with, is that I cannot after plenty of google search refinements find a recipe that manages to come close.. Could you provide one example of a recipe that fits the result you're describing? Perhaps then I can use the keywords as a base for searching for the right recipes. Thank you!
    – DeeJayh
    Sep 20 at 17:42
  • I don't have such recipes, sorry. There are tons of hits when searching for "keto bread recipe" or "low calorie bread recipe". If all you get is recipes for 50 calories per slice, and you want to develop one for 35 calories, you will still save yourselves tons of work by learning to bake several of the 50 calorie recipes before you push the envelope even more.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 20 at 17:46
  • 1
    @DeeJayh this is what I got in the top search results: thebigmansworld.com/low-calorie-bread. I admit it says 50 cal per "serving" and I didn't see how many grams they intend per serving. The slices look kinda "normal size", but of course we cannot know if the photographs are of the real thing. On a second look, they don't have inulin or any other filler beside the wheat germ, but the site suggests further keto recipes, maybe you'll find something there.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 20 at 17:54
  • 1
    Diet food manufacturers almost always cheat on the serving size. You really need to work on the figures per unit weight. The slices quoted at that link are 30g. A fairly thinly sliced normal loaf I can easily buy is 40g and many loaves 50g per slice. You might eat the same number of slices even if they're smaller, but that's not a good way to compare foods. On the other hand if you're baking your own, you'll probably cut it thicker slicing by hand, but what you need to do is cut it thinner
    – Chris H
    Sep 21 at 9:17
  • 1
    @ChrisH the sizes do have some basis in reality, they are derived from studying how much people truly eat, and are tightly regulated. But even in that way, they have a ton of drawbacks. See for example fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/…, explaining how the FDA realized people drink the whole can of soda, so mandated it should be labeled as "one serving" instead of something like 1.5 servings. But I am pretty sure that this also has the opposite effect, people thinking "of course I will drink the whole can, the label says it's one serving".
    – rumtscho
    Sep 21 at 9:40

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