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November 9, 2012 05:54:13
Posted By Steve the Bread Guy
Last night I made a whole wheat bread out of some whole grains of emmer wheat my wife had given me for my birthday. This is an ancient strain of wheat, one that used 9,000 years ago in the Middle East. The grains are the seeds of the wheat plant, the stuff tha
t goes to a flour mill for crushing into flour. I suspect many people just use them as seeds to give their bread a little crunch. I wanted to do something different - make some flour at home.
Home milling used to be a lot of very hard work. We know that for thousands of years the task usually fell to women, who ground hard wheat seeds in between two stones, crushing them into a coarse flour. In the Middle Ages, European lords owned most of the mechanical mills, where horses or oxen served as the muscle, turning large milling stones to create flour. Peasants were often not allowed to mill their flour at home, they had to take it to the Lord's Mill. Here it could be ground into flour once, or, for a finer flour ( which cost more), twice. The latter technique was often used when creating the whiter flour rich people liked, and the poor seldom tasted.
Well, thanks to coffee grinders, we can all be our own millers now. Last night I used a twenty dollar coffee grinder that I reserve for making flour ( I never put coffee beans into it). I used about a cup and half of the emmer seeds, grinding them in 1/3 of a cup batches. It helps if you shake the grinder periodically so that what's on the bottom is brought to the top, allowing less ground seeds to get closer to the blades.
Coffee grinders are not ideal milling machines - the flour is still pretty coarse. I have tried to make pure whole wheat, home-milled bread in the past, using nothing but the ground flour, salt, yeast and water. The result was a very heavy, dense bread which I didn't like much. The flour was so heavy that the yeast had a hard time making it rise. So last night I used about 2.5 cups of white flour along with the home-milled flour. I also added about half a cup of the raw grains. The result was two very nice loaves, which rose quite well. I gave them about two hours for each rise, to compensate for the heaviness of the flour.
I have attached a picture below of one of the loaves. The bread is nice and crunchy, with a good, hearty flavour. Definitely worth doing again. In the future, I will be releasing a video of some red rice bread that I made by home-milling the rice into flour. Watch for that one in the next month or so.
In case you are wondering about the basic recipe I used, here it is:
2 tsp instant dry yeast
2 cups warm water - mix and leave for ten minutes until a scum develops on top.
2 tsp salt
2.5 cups white flour
approx 1.75 cups home-milled emmer grains
.5 cups of whole wheat emmer grains
Mix together gradually until you need to use your hands to knead and form a dough ball.(If you need more guidance on how to do this, watch my whole wheat video, which will show you the technique, but not the same ingredients).
Let rise for two hours.
Punch down, then shape into loaves. I made two, one round, one baguette.
Let rise for two hours.
Heat oven to 425, with a pan of water so the oven gets steamy.
Slash the tops of the bread with a wet serrated knife. Do the cuts very quickly, so knife does't get caught in the dough
Place breads in the oven for 30 minutes.
whole wheat bread,
November 5, 2012 05:00:30
Posted By Steve the Bread Guy
As winter starts to remind us that it is on its way, our breads are going to notice, too. Most of the recipes you find in cookbooks assume that you have a nice hot kitchen when you make bread. Professional bakers work in very warm environments thanks to their many ovens, and that affects how their yeast reacts. Yeast is a fungus that likes warm temperatures, roughly akin to a hot summer day. But many of us have homes that are not heated that way in the winter, and this will affect how long it takes yeast to react and for bread to rise.
One simple answer is to just give the yeast more time. In most bread recipes, including my own, we suggest that you let the bread double in size for each of its two rises. In warm conditions, I find that this usually takes about an hour (with the exception of sourdough breads, which take longer). But when my house is cool (68F, or 18 or 19C), that doubling takes longer, sometimes as much as an hour and a half.
If you don’t have time for that, there is an alternative. Turn you oven into a warming chamber for the rising dough. Preheat the oven to 200F, but turn it off before it gets there. Open the door to let some of the heat escape. Stick your hand in a few minutes later. If it isn’t too hot for your hand, it will be okay for the dough’s yeast, too. It should feel like a hot summer day, but not a scorcher. Place the rising dough in their for an hour. Insure that you cover the dough with a damp towel, since the heat will dry out the top surface of the dough otherwise. Check on its size 45 minutes later, to see if it has been rising faster than expected. I find that this works quite well. Some ovens even have breadproofing settings for exactly this purpose.
Good luck with you winter baking!
Steve the Bread Guy.