Our Daily Bread: From Grain To Loaf…Part Two

(Click here for part one)

How To Make A Truly Nutritious Loaf Of Bread

This is not hard, not at all.  Just a few simple ingredients are needed.

1.  Whole Wheat Flour, preferably freshly ground.  The oils in whole wheat flour can be highly volatile, meaning that they spoil easily.  Under very warm conditions the oils can go rancid within 72 hours, while not exactly a good thing from a health standpoint it isn’t devastating, but it can make your bread taste bitter.  That’s why whole wheat store bought bread has a sort of  “off-taste”, you can especially taste it when you compare it side by side with bread made from freshly ground flour.  If you buy your flour already ground, buy it as fresh as you can get and then store it in the fridge.  If you’re interested in buying the whole grain and grinding your own flour, almost any natural food store will allow you to order grain in bulk.  I currently buy “hard red spring wheat” for making yeasted bread products and for making quick breads (those using baking soda or baking powder for leavening) I use “soft winter wheat”.  A 50 pound bag of organic hard red spring wheat costs me about $36…1 cup of wheat makes about 1 cup of flour and there is 2 cups of flour in 1 pound, that’s 100 cups of flour in a 50 pound bag which comes out to 36 cents a cup…and I use about 3 cups of flour for 1 loaf of bread, so that comes out to $1.08 per loaf! 😀

My grain grinder...a "Wondermill Junior"...I like to use the stone burrs for "stoneground" flour...

here I am...grinding flour, it takes me about 20 minutes to grind enough flour for 1 loaf of bread (my 8 year old son, Elijah, took this picture)

2.  Whey.  Whey is the protein-rich liquid portion of milk, as opposed to the milk solids which is what is used in making cheese.  We have goats and I make our own raw milk goat cheese, the whey leftover from cheese making is what I use in making bread, this is how our fore-mothers would have done it.  If you don’t have goats or cows, the easiest way to get whey (hehehe) is by buying yogurt and straining the whey off to make yogurt cheese.  This is what I do in the dead of winter when my goats are pregnant and not in milk.  The yogurt thickens up nicely and all kinds of seasonings can be added to it to make a nice soft cheese to spread on slices of your bread.  This makes for a nice late afternoon snack.   Also, it is SO important that you use a good, high quality yogurt with LIVE and ACTIVE cultures.  Dannon Plain Whole Milk Yogurt works well if you’re on a budget, but if money is no issue then use Stonyfield Plain Whole Milk Yogurt or Brown Cow Plain Whole Milk Yogurt, both are FAR superior in taste, quality, and nutrition and since it’s organic you can be sure that there is no pus from rampant udder infection from the overuse of growth hormone to artificially increase milk production, no antibiotics to treat the infection either…ick.  It is the cultures, probiotics, or “good bacteria” in the yogurt that are responsible for neutralizing the phytic acid in the flour, this is why you must make sure your yogurt is “alive”.

For draining the whey from yogurt I use a little plastic "reusable" coffee filter that I stick inside a liquid measuring cup

after draining off all the whey, you get yogurt "cheese"

3.  Yeast.  Regular ol’ yeast that you buy from the store works just fine.  However, I don’t use nearly as much as most recipes call for and there is a reason for that.  I want the bread to rise slowly so that the “good bacteria” in the whey have enough time to neutralize all the phytic acid in the flour.  I have read some sources that say at least 7 hours is needed and other sources that say 12 hours.  I usually mix my bread together in the evening and then let it rise all night for fresh baked bread with breakfast.  My rule of thumb is 1/4 tsp. yeast per loaf of bread.

In the past, I have made bread in all different kinds of ways from whole wheat to sourdough, completely by hand to using a bread machine, at one point I would even sprout the wheat and then dry it in the dehydrator and then grind the dried sprouted kernals into flour to make “sprouted wheat” bread.  But right now, in my life, I have FIVE KIDS whom I home-school, plus livestock and a large garden and fruit trees and I just don’t have time to be experimenting with my bread, bread is too basic for me at this point, all I need is a good “tried and true” nutritious loaf while investing as little personal time and energy as possible.  I may grind my own flour by hand but my bread machine (which I picked up for a whole 5 dollars from the local second hand shop) does ALL the kneading for me…  although, I still will occasionally knead a loaf by hand just for the fun of it 😀

my bread machine..cost me a whole 5 dollars...

Here is the recipe I use to make 1 loaf of whole wheat bread.  I add powdered kelp and flax meal for added nutrition, they are entirely optional though, as well as the butter and salt, but the butter makes for a softer loaf and everything tastes better with salt.

1 cup of whey

2 1/2 – 3 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp. yeast

1/2 tsp. real sea salt (optional)

2 tbsp. butter (optional)

1 Tbsp. kelp powder (optional)

1 Tbsp. flax meal (optional)

the ingredients inside the breadmaker

After I have the dough go through a kneading on the “whole wheat dough” cycle, I then remove the dough and shape into a loaf and let rise in a warm place for at least 7 hours.  If you are really new to bread making and need to learn to knead by hand there are TONS of really good bread making videos on YouTube that could easily show you.  After the dough has fully risen I then heat the oven as hot as it will go, that’s about 550 degrees for me and then pop the bread in and turn the heat down to 350 and bake for about 30 minutes.  Getting the oven as hot as possible really helps with the rising of the bread at the very beginning of baking.

the finished loaf, topped with some dill seeds harvested from last year's garden

Ok, stay tuned for the next part, as I have the time…it will be about making whole wheat sourdough bread completely by hand! 😀

One thought on “Our Daily Bread: From Grain To Loaf…Part Two

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