Posts Tagged wholewheat flour

Seriously seedy

One challenge of adding different things to different breads is the number of partially opened packets of Stuff that clutter up the kitchen. I bought poppyseeds for my hugely successful challah a year ago and I haven’t used them since, and even putting flax seeds into my morning oatmeal isn’t making much of a dent in the large pack I bought for $2.50 a while ago. So my latest bread experiment was designed to use some of those seeds up, plus sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and a few hemp hearts (which may, or may not, count as a seed).

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I used honey for the sweetener, olive oil for the fat, added some of the liquid that pools to the top in a pot of unflavored Greek yogurt to my warm water and kneaded it all together to get ready for the bake. Flour was a mix of stone-ground organic white, stone-ground organic wholewheat, stone ground organic spelt and rye, because it’s what I had in the pantry.

Then crisis. Counting back to when I had to leave (friend and I had opera tickets for last night), I realised that I didn’t have time for my two loaves to rise, prove and bake. I know yeast dough will rise overnight in the fridge — I’ve done it several times — but a 20-hour fridge-based rise? Short of abandoning the opera (not an option) I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

Let’s just say that the dough rose nicely overnight, but the second rise, the one in the tins, took far, far longer than I thought it would, which meant spending most of the morning waiting to see if I’d get bread, or a doughy brick. But the yeast woke up in the end and I threw the loaves in the oven for the 45-plus minutes they took to cook. If truth be told I probably overdid the cooking by a minute or five — this bread is seriously crusty. But it’s good. So good that I ate the crust (with a smearing of home-made marmalade) and went straight back downstairs to hack off another slice to eat all by itself.

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Seriously seedy mixed grain bread (measurements were a little vague. It was one of those days)

A generous 6 cups of flour (I used about 2-1/2 white, 1-1/2 wholemeal, 1 rye and one wholewheat spelt)
Almost 3 cups of warm liquid (mostly water, plus almost half a cup of yogurt whey)
2 tsp dried yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 generous cup of mixed seeds (poppy, sesame, sunflower, hemp and flax. I dry-roasted the sesame seeds first in a cast iron pan until they turned a few notches darker)

Mix the water, honey and yeast with half the flour and leave for a few minutes until it starts bubbling a little.

Add the rest of the flour and the salt and mix/knead until it’s springy. I’m guessing it was 10-15 minutes. Knead in the oil, and then the seeds.

Allow to rise (in a warm kitchen, or in my case in the fridge for a very, very long overnight).

Knock the dough down and put in greased loaf pans.

Allow to rise again.

Bake, at 425F for the first 15 minutes, and then at 375F for 30 minutes or so until the bread is sounds hollow when you take it out of the oven and tap the base. I like to put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes without the tins, just to firm up the crust a little. (Just don’t do as I did, and forget to take them out.)

Have the patience to wait for it to cool down before you cut and eat.

Of course, having started this bread to use up seeds, I bought both sesame and sunflower seeds to add to the variety, which is something else to use up. Anyone got sesame seed recipes? Things to cook with sunflower seeds?

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It wasn’t a disaster

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I suppose in a year and a bit of bread making, and a lot of playing fast-and-loose with recipes, it was inevitable that not everything is going to work out quite the way you think it should. There was the (delicious) wheatberry bread where I broke a filling cracking down on a kernel, and the bread that never rose, and ended up as tasty, solid, twice baked-bagel chips. But most of them have been pretty wonderful, bringing the challenge of how not to eat a whole loaf of bread at a single sitting.

The basic non-recipe comprises 6-7 cups of flour (usually a mix of white, brown and something vaguely exotic), 3 (ish) cups of water, a tablespoon each of salt and fat, two teaspoons of dried yeast, a quarter cup of honey (or other sweetener) and a cup or two of Other Stuff, which could be nuts, or grains, or oat flakes, plus maybe a spoonful of cumin or coriander to make things a little bit more interesting. My recent favorite used spelt flour for a third of the flour and walnuts for the extra. It was very lovely.

But today’s adventure had me wondering if I should actually start measuring things  again, and reminded me that using up “the rest of that flour” might not be a particularly smart way of following a recipe. The idea was to do a 2:2:2 ratio of stoneground whole wheat bread flour, stoneground white bread flour and spelt flour, and maybe up the flour just a little because I wanted my two loaves to be a little bit larger than they were last time. For extras I chose some leftover pumpkin seeds, a couple of spoons of lightly ground flax seeds and half a cup of  hemp hearts, which the internet tells me are a protein-rich superfood. I added about a teaspoon of cumin too, just because I like the taste.

Then I discovered a baggie of a couple of cups of red fife flour in the freezer, so I decided to use that instead of the spelt even though it was freezer cold. And I was so close to finishing the wholewheat flour, that I just kept pouring that in after my two cups were full. Total flour? Seven cups, perhaps. Maybe a bit more. I didn’t measure it, and I didn’t weigh it, and I just threw in something over 3 cups of water and hoped for the best.

Hmm.

This dough was sloppier than anything  I’ve ever worked with — it practically walked off the countertop while I was reaching over for the coconut oil. It stuck to my hands, my clothes and anything that came anywhere near it. And the extra (white) flour I added in an attempt to make it slightly less sticky was fresh from the freezer too, so it chilled the dough some more and probably slowed the kneading/rising process. After twenty nervous minutes and a lot of extra ice cold flour I had a dough that I could almost handle, so I kept going until it felt good and elastic before putting it to one side to let the yeast do its stuff.

It rose, threatening to spill over the bowl.

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I squished it down and transfered it to tins and let it rise again, and baked it for about 55 minutes, first at 425F and then down to 350F.

And to my deepest surprise, it’s a really, really nice bread, with a good crust, a healthy chew and a lovely taste. And of course, having no idea what I actually did,  there’s no way I am going to be able to make it exactly the same again.

Lessons:

  • Those cookbook writers know what they are talking about when they say it’s better for a dough to be too wet than too dry
  • A stand mixer would be really nice for a dough this wet
  • You do need to knead bread to develop the gluten, and even sloppy doughs might (might) turn into something you can use
  • Experimentation is often very scary. But it sometimes works
  • You may never be able to recreate a newly invented recipe, which is actually rather sad

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Bread for the cheese

Sometimes the oddest stuff turns to surprising success, and my latest bread experiment turned into the best bread yet, although the dough was initially so runny that it threatened to flow off the countertop and onto the floor.

It started with a random purchase of soft wheat berries at a food store that was actually open on Labor Day, and ended, after an internet search and a few moments of panic, with a dark, moist and chewy bread.

My recipe came from East of Eden Cooking and looking over things I wondered briefly if a missing dash could have caused the sloppy mess. The recipe calls oddly for 11/3 cups of water (3-2/3 cups?). Could that have been 1-1/3 cups? Or was it the fact that I knead by hand and the recipe wants a machine? Or because I skipped the whole grain wheat cereal, and added a cup of smelt flakes instead? (I also substituted coconut oil, my fat of the moment, for butter, so that also added moisture.) Or did I just not read the recipe properly? It does tell you to add flour one spoon at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Anyways I kept pouring in flour until my mess was firm enough to handle (probably an extra cup by the end of the story), baked my three loaves for about twice as long as the recipe says and love the results. Definitely one to make again.

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Here, with grateful thanks to Deborah at East of Eden, is what I did.

Wheatberry bread

2 cups soft wheatberries
3-2/3 cups warm water
4 tsp dried yeast
2/3 cups coconut oil
2/3 cup honey
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flaked smelt

Soak the wheatberries overnight and then cook them for about 45 minutes until tender. You will need 4 cups of cooked berries — I had enough left over for a small lunchtime salad. Chop the berries roughly in a food processor.

Mix the yeast with the water and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so. Mix in the oil, honey and 2 cups of the flour, along with the cocoa, nutmeg and salt. Add the rest of the flour and then the wheatberries  and knead until it comes together into one smooth, glossy ball. This took a long time, and I’d guess I added another cup of flour as I kneaded things.

Allow to rise until doubled in size.

Punch down, divide into three bread tins and rise again.

Bake for something over an hour at 350F. (Recipe says 35-40 minutes, and I think I could have baked this one another 20 minutes without doing any harm).

Moist, chewy, very very delicious, and the sweetness and the cocoa turn it into the perfect pairing for virtually any type of cheese.

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By bread alone

I’ve been on a big bread-baking binge for the last few weeks, and we’re getting through the loaves as though they would soon go out of fashion. And given the fact that I can’t find a recipe without tweaking it, I’ve even started a notebook to log what I did, so I don’t look up the wrong recipe by mistake.

Events so far included two (rather large) yummy loaves of bread with steel-cut oatmeal (based on a food.com recipe , but with half wholewheat flour), two with some oat flour mixed in with white and brown wheat flour (less successful), and one particularly delicious loaf with chestnut flour, which was also based on an internet recipe. I baked this in a tin rather than free-form, because how else can you turn bread to sandwiches, used half wholemeal flour for the non-chestnut portion instead of all white and substituted pumpkin seeds for the sultanas the recipe suggested. It was very unusual, very chewy, very nice.

But chestnut flour is a bit exotic to be using for an everyday loaf, so today I moved on to flour from red fife wheat, which is the wheat they used to grow in Ontario back in the day, and which meets my vague goal of trying not to buy too much from too far away. (I’ll still do marmalade.) The seller tells me the grain was ground to flour yesterday, it’s that fresh, and I should keep any leftover flour in the freezer because there’s no preservatives at all.

I admit I wimped out of using all red fife flour for this one, because I thought my bread would probably be just too dense, so went for a white-wholewheat-red fife mix, in equal parts. I started with this recipe from a blogger who must live only a few streets away from me, judging by the coffee shops she writes about. But I tweaked things around a little. The result smells glorious.

Red Fife Bread (makes two smallish loaves)
2 cups each of stone-ground strong white flour, stone-ground wholemeal flour and red fife flour
2 ¾ cups warm water
¼ cup honey
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

Mix 3 cups of the flour with the water, honey and yeast, cover (I used a damp tea towel) and then allow it to proove until it’s nice and bubbly. It took about 90 minutes.

Add the other three cups of flour, plus salt and olive oil and knead until it’s smooth, using a little bit of flour as needed — I probably used another quarter of a cup, although the recipe suggests it might be as much as 1-1/2 cups. The dough  was very sticky at the start, b but it got better as I kneaded — very soft and elastic. Work in the seeds (if you are using them), and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size — about an hour.

Knock dough down, and put in two well greased bread tins. Allow it to rise again, until it’s doubled in size.

Bake in preheated oven at 425F for the first 15 minutes, and then at 375 for the final 30 minutes. It should sound hollow when you take it out of the oven.

All the recipes say don’t eat bread until it’s cooled, because it will be so hard to cut. Is waiting even an option?

Of course, I already have four different sorts of organic flour, and all the reading I’m doing from my new and borrowed bread books say to keep organic flour in the fridge or freezer because it won’t last long in a regular cupboard because of the way it’s processed.

Hmm. If I get into breadmaking in an bigger way, we’re going to need a bigger freezer.

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