Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread from fresh-ground wheat berries

Over two years ago I sat in on Sue Becker's workshop at a homeschool convention and nodded along with most of what she had to say. The net result was we've switched from baking our own bread from store-bought flour to grinding wheat berries to make our own bread. It is an on-going process -- we still buy the occasional loaf of sliced bread and bag of unbleached flour but DS complains if he doesn't have whole grain bread for toast with his breakfast and (with apologies to Ritz) everything tastes better when it sits on a whole grain slice.

I've been using the Becker's recipe for whole grain bread and making it in the Zojirushi which is an absolutely wonderful bread machine. But the last couple of times I've made bread, I've used a modified version of Sue Gregg's recipe from her "Whole Grain Baking" cookbook. I altered it because I like to bake the bread in a long pullman loaf pan and to get the texture like we prefer it, I add milk or yogurt for some or all of the water indicated and sometimes add an egg or two.

1 1/2 cup yogurt
2/3 cup water
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
4 cups fresh-ground whole wheat flour
1 tbs yeast (I use saf-instant yeast)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter, softened or oil (butter improves the texture but I sometimes use oil)
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2-2 cups additional whole wheat flour

Combine yogurt, water, vinegar and 4 cups flour in bowl. Batter may be stiff. Cover with plastic wrap tight against the dough and let stand 12-24 hours at room temperature.

When ready to continue, put dough in bowl for Kitchenaid mixer. Add remaining ingredients (can add 1 or 2 lightly beaten eggs along with other ingredients at this point) but only adding 1/2 cup additional flour to begin with. Use dough hook to blend ingredients on low speed. Scraping bowl as necessary and adding additional flour as needed. Dough will be stickier than when prepared with white flour. After additional ingredients are incorporated into the dough, knead with mixer for about 10 minutes. (This step may be mixed and kneaded by hand, if desired. Kneading will take about 20 minutes by hand.)

Oil bowl and place dough in bowl, turning to grease top of dough. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double. This takes 2 hours or more in my cool kitchen.

Punch dough down, turn in bowl and cover again. Let rise a second time till double. Will take about half as long as first rise. In my kitchen this is about an hour.

Punch dough down, knead briefly and let it rest for 15 minutes. Shape for pan(s) and place in oiled pan(s). Allow to rise a 3rd and final time (30 minutes or so at my house) prior to baking in preheated 375F. oven for 30-45 minutes depending on pan size(s) used.

I use a 28" pullman pan (I think that's the size -- slightly longer than the store-bought "king" size loaves). If I were to bake it in a regular loaf pan it would make at least 2, possibly 3, loaves.

Don't worry if it takes longer or shorter amounts of time to rise at your house. As long as your yeast is active and it isn't killed off by heat, etc. the dough will rise. If the woodstove's not going and it's a cool day outside, I've had the dough take as long as 3-1/2 hours to rise the first time. The Zoji bread machine has a heater so it's only when making bread by hand that I have to worry about a s-l-o-w rise but it does happen. So be prepared to wait sometimes or help the process along by providing a warm spot for the bowl.

This is our new favorite. I can't wait to try it for melba toast.


Christy said...

I want to start grinding my own flour. What do you use to grind it? I'm still trying to decide on a mill.

Walnut Spinney said...

There are so many choices!

I use a Nutrimill now -- bought it from the Bread Beckers over 2 years ago. Before that I used my Vitamix when I wanted fresh-ground wheat and it did a decent job but wouldn't grind as much or as fast or with the degree of range (very fine to very coarse) that my current mill has.

It was a hard decision because if I could have what I wanted without having to pay the price in time and money, I would have gotten a high-end hand-powered one. You know, stone ground and all that. But the truth is, for us, right now, it needed to be electric for me to use it regularly. And that's what I wanted it for: regular, almost daily, use.

FWIW I'm not sure I would have bought one if I'd had Sue Gregg's blender method at hand. It really makes a nicely textured loaf. Try it, you may be able to put off buying a mill for awhile!

Christy said...

Thank you for the input! I'll look up the blender method, it sounds like it just might be the thing.

knittingsheeple said...

Have you made a good fat-free whole wheat bread? I'm trying to make one and it needs to be as close to fat free as possible to work with DH's diet.

Carolyn said...

The only fat-free whole grain bread I make is a variation of Jim Lahey's no-knead bread -- I make it with fresh ground wheat, Lahey's recipe calls for all-purpose flour. It's a country or peasant bread rather than a sandwich bread, tho. Search for my May 27, 2008 post which includes the recipe or cut-and-paste the address below to jump there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. I was just wondering if this could be made in the Zojo bread machine? Thanks.

CarolynI said...

I haven't tried it but think it could be done by programming one of the custom settings to accommodate the recipe.

As it happens I have wheat, yogurt, water and vinegar mixed and setting out ready to stir up a batch of bread sometime tomorrow. I'll try using the Zojo for the rest of the process and will post the custom settings I settle on later this week.

Thanks for the nudge. :-)

Carolyn said...

Just made this recipe in the Zojo bread machine by using the homemade custom setting. Turned out well.

Here are the settings I used:
Preheat: Off
Knead: 21 minutes
Rise1: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Rise2: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Rise3: 30 minutes
Bake: 45 minutes

When the summer heat arrives I can probably drop the initial rise back to 2 hours but the kitchen temp was 62F. today and after I set the rise for 2 hours I ended up extending it another 30 minutes in order for the dough to truly double in size. YMMV

To make this completely in the Zojo, I put the yogurt, water, flour and vinegar in the machine last night and let it mix (knead) for about 3 minutes then shut it off. Restarted the custom setting from the beginning this morning when I added the remaining ingredients.

I did need to add an additional 1/4 cup of fresh ground wheat flour to the dough to get the right consistency. This is in line with what happens when I make it by hand -- the whole wheat dough almost always seems wetter than bread dough made with store-bought all-purpose or bread flour and often requires a few extra tablespoons especially if I use oil instead of butter and include an egg in the mix. (Both of which I did today.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this recipe. My DH thinks I am a bread baking genius ;)

Walnut Spinney said...

Glad to know you like it! My DH has now mastered the recipe, too, and taken over the regular weekly bread making in the ABM. I still do any rolls or specialty loaves but he makes sure the bread box isn't empty.

And I really like the toast this makes. Actually has flavor beyond just a crispy texture, kwim?