Saturday, January 4, 2014

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe--A Thing of Beauty!

I often make my own bread. I love the taste and I love knowing what goes into it (read: nothing I can't pronounce!) and I love the kneading process. When I'm kneading dough I will often talk to God about what concerns me, or I'll just let my mind wander freely. There have been many times when the result of kneading included not only a loaf of bread, but concerns put in perspective or great new ideas.
Yesterday was just such a day. I ground some hard red winter wheat berries...the old fashioned way, using my Country Living grain mill. I also have an electric grinder (a NutriMill), but this was a loaf of bread not to be hurried.

When I use whole wheat my bread is much denser than when I use half wheat flour and half white flour...and certainly a lot more dense than when I use all white flour. But yesterday I wanted to see if I could make a fluffy, soft loaf of bread using absolutely NO white flour, even when I was kneading.

I did! The secret? Vital wheat gluten.

Here's how:

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe (1 loaf)

In a large mixing bowl, place 1 cup warm water; add 1/2 tsp. sugar and 3 tsp. yeast; mix so yeast gets wet and then let it sit for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly.

In the meantime, put 1/4 cup milk and 2 T. shortening or butter into a microwavable container and microwave it for about 30 seconds; let it cool a tad while you're waiting for the yeast mixture to bubble.

Now, pour the milk/shortening mixture into the large mixing bowl that contains the yeast mixture. Add 1/8 cup honey, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 tsp. vital wheat gluten, and about 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix together; keep adding flour and mixing (you'll use somewhere around 3 1/2 cups flour total, including what you use while kneading to keep things from sticking) until the dough tends to stay in a ball and leave the sides of the bowl. Then turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes; keep adding flour to your work surface so the dough doesn't stick while you work it.

Grease another large clean bowl and plop your kneaded ball of dough into it, turning the dough so all surfaces are greased. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise until doubled. Punch down the dough, form it into a ball again and put it back in the bowl to rise a second time (make sure the surface of the dough is greased again). After the dough has doubled a second time, punch it down and form it into a loaf. Place it into a greased loaf pan and let rise again. This time, let the dough rise until it's about an inch above the top of the loaf pan at it's tallest point.

Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 35 minutes. When it's done, take it out of the loaf pan and let the bread cool on a rack.

This bread is so good! It's surprisingly soft and chewy, and the taste is perfect for eating plain or with butter spread on it, as toast (try it buttered with cinnamon sugar!), or used for sandwiches. Just a good, all-around loaf.

Try it! I think you'll like it!

As we begin a new year, may you and all your loved ones be blessed. And should tough times come your way, remember to step back and remind yourself that God loves you and yours and He never fails.

Georgia, plain and simple

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