Since Christmas I've been milling my own wheat and it does not behave the same as whole wheat from the store. Not at all.
- I've wanted to cut down on the yeast a bit. That's one reason I was trying sourdough earlier in the year too.
- I've been reading about soaking grains to eliminate or neutralize phytic acids in the grain. Even Alice agrees that I'm just a "scintst a little bit", so I don't claim to understand it all but it sounds like good sense to me. I'm not going to be fanatical about it or anything, but if it's easy enough to do and tastes good, I'd like to try it more often.
So this new recipe turns out a bread that reminds me a bit of bagels. It's steamed in the oven, giving it a really chewy crust and the bread itself is quite dense. But not so terribly dense that no one will eat it. And it does actually rise, which hasn't always been the case with my milled wheat. It isn't 100% whole wheat, but maybe that's okay. It's satisfying that it doesn't take a lot of kneading and I'm actually doing it by hand instead of using the stand mixer.
I'm not going to do conversions for people who don't mill their wheat because I don't know how to do that. I do know that the fresh milled wheat is fluffier (so maybe 8 cups of mine = 6 cups of store whole wheat?). I should start using a scale and weigh my ingredients, but I'm not quite there yet.
Whole wheat bread
6 cups liquid (combination of milk, buttermilk, whey, water - whatever you
have on hand)
1 tsp yeast
8 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp salt
2-3 Tbsp oil (lard, butter, canola, olive, whatever
4-5 cups of white flour
1 egg, beater for a wash
Mix the milk and warm water together. Whisk in 3 cups of flour. Then
whisk in the yeast and molasses. Whisk in 3 more cups of flour, salt and
oil. (It sounds like a lot of salt, but it doesn't taste salty to
me). Whisk in the rest of the whole wheat flour. At some point
you'll want to switch to a wooden spoon.
Mix in white flour 1-2 cups at a time, kneading with your hands directly in
the bowl when it's dry enough. Knead until smooth and forms a
ball. Cover and let sit for 8-12 hours. It rises quite a lot.
Make sure you have room!
Don't punch it down, but remove it from the bowl and make three equal
balls. Pat into a rectangle and roll into loaf shapes. I've been
told that the rolling makes it rise higher and you want to encourage that with
anything whole wheat.
While I was rolling anyway, I spread one loaf with pesto, but you could use
cinnamon and sugar, or cheese and ham or whatever if you
liked. Let rise until doubled. Brush with egg.
Preheat oven to 400 with a pan on a bottom rack. Put the
loaves in and pour water into the bottom pan. Close the door
and let them steam/bake for 10 minutes. Turn it down to 375
and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate pans and bake another 20 minutes.
I have another recipe for Flaxseed Bread that uses a whole cup of chopped/ground flax. We bought some roasted flax and replaced a cup of whole wheat in this recipe with flax and that was awesome. Roasted flax has a nutty flavor that I don't find in regular flax. That was just a recent Costco find and I heartily recommend it.
We still like our fluffy white bread too, so I still make that about half the time. The yeasty smell is awesome and we definitely scarf it down faster. It's good to love your food, but also good to moderate it with some healthier food as our staples.
I still haven't found the perfect bread, but maybe there isn't one. Or there isn't just one.