Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The most comforting smell on the planet...

Ah, the smell of bread baking... Is there anything that is more homey and comforting?

My claim of domestic-goddesshood rarely goes challenged. There are many women out there with skills, but few who rival my own when it comes to things domestic. Okay, not really, but you do have to admit that I do have some skills worth bragging about. But I do have a friend named Debbie who is even more talented than myself in many of the aspects of domesticity. She comes by her amazing talent honestly seeing as how her mom, Jeannie, is pretty amazing as well. She put together Debbie's wedding cake, and I can say that it was THE most amazing piece of food art I have ever, ever, ever seen. My mom and I make wedding cakes, true, but we are just hobbyists. We are not really cake perfectionists. Our generally accepted rule of thumb is that if a mistake cannot be seen from the back of a galloping house, it's not enough to worry about. Jeannie's creation was perfect. Huge and perfect. Huge, perfect, and beautiful.

I'm not sure I have all the facts right, but I'm sure the story went something like this:

Jeannie got frustrated with the dense, dark whole wheat bread that resulted from the recipes in the cookbooks, so she slaved and toiled in her kitchen until, after years of trial and error, she came up with something better. Light, fluffy, delicious. I first had a taste at Debbie's house. She has shared the recipe with me several times. Several times, because I keep losing the ones she gives me. Partially because I love all of you, but mostly so I won't lose it again, I'm going to post it here on my blog. Debbie said as long as I give credit where credit is due, I was welcome to make this recipe public. To make it the way Debbie does, you need a wheat grinder and the amazing guts that are found inside a Bosch mixer.

The following has been brought to you by the kitchen wizardry of Jeannie Prete:

"The Yummiest Wheat Bread on the Planet!"

Place the following in the bowl of a mixer:

1 cup Potato Flakes
1 1/2 cup Oatmeal
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup Honey
1 cup sunflower seeds or grains (optional)
4 cups hot water

Mix a little and then add:

3 Tablespoons active dry yeast

Let proof for 5 minutes.

While you wait grind 4 1/2 cups of wheat. (This ends up being somewhere in the vicinity of 7 1/2-8 cups or so of flour)

Add to mixture (it should be a bit bubbly):

3 cups of the flour you just ground
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil.

Turn on the mixer and slowly add the rest of the flour you just ground.

Mix for 10 minutes. Yes, I know its a long time. Just set a timer and go and do something else. This long mixing time is crucial for the loaf to turn out light and fluffy. This is where the Bosch mixer really shines. I used to have a Kitchenaid. I tried to make bread in it, but the dough just tended to stick on the dough hook and get a ride around the bowl. Entertaining, yes. Effective, no.

After 10 minutes of mixing, form the dough into loaves and place in bread pans. This would make 3 big loaves, 4 medium loaves, or 8 small loaves. Approximately. The dough is very sticky, and will seem wetter than the dough made with other recipes. If you'll grease your hands before you work with the dough, you'll have an easier time working wit it.

Butter the tops of the loaves, and let them rise until the dough doubles in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If you take a loaf out of the pan and tap the bottom, it should sound hollow. And it should be a pretty golden brown color. That's how I tell if they've baked long enough.

Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan. The bread will come out of the pan much easier if you let it sit first. Turn out onto a cooling rack and let sit until completely cool. Don't wrap them in plastic until they are completely cool. Otherwise, the steam will collect and make the outside of the bread mushy. Mushy = bad.

There you have it folks. Enjoy.

Here are some pictures I took tonight:

Here is my wheat being ground into flour. I used hard white wheat. White wheat has a bit milder taste than the red wheat. Plus, I have a 45 lb bucket of it in my pantry.

Here is the bin of freshly ground flour. There was a late-night incident involving myself, a piece of cardboard, and a bottle of gorilla glue. Its a fairly entertaining story that I will save for another day. The result is that the Magic Mill that I got from my grandma doesn't produce flour as fine as it should. As a result, I have to grind 5 cups of wheat berries to produce the same volume of flour (for this recipe) that Debbie can produce with 4 1/2. I think she has a WhisperMill, or MagicMill, or somesuch.

Here is a fairly low-quality picture of the bubbles the yeast made in the ingredients that were mixed before any flour was added.

This is what the dough looks like after it has mixed for 10 full minutes.

I was able to make 4 little loaves and 2 medium-sized loaves with one recipe of dough.

They rose beautifully. I haven't made anything with yeast since I moved in, so I was a bit nervous that my yeast had died in my freezer.

Here are my happy little loaves, all golden-brown and delicious. Well, I'm assuming they're delicious. I actually binged on pizza and bread pudding tonight, so I haven't actually tried any yet. I'm looking forward to breakfast tomorrow!

This is the least brick-like whole grain bread that you will ever taste! Thanks again to Debbie and Jeannie!


  1. Oh... I miss having you around Karen, for many reasons.... but one of which being your cooking. I WILL visit AZ sometime this year and when I do you better be ready for me. :o)

  2. YUM!

    My mom makes home-made wheat bread like this. It's the BEST!

  3. Great post Karen! Wow, that was great credit given to my mom :)

    I want to add that the goal is to not have the dough turn out so sticky and here are some hints:
    -don't put both lids on the mixer! You don't want to trap so much moisture in. Just put the ring on because if you don't, the dough trends to escape!
    -add the flour slowly, over more of the mixing time.

    That should help with the sticky, now for taking it out of the pan.
    -spray the pan with Pam and it should fall right out! I take it out right away because it sweats and gets soggy if you leave it and I like really crusty crust! Pam is the BEST cooking spray!

  4. When the above mentioned Debbie was my visiting teacher she used to bring me little loafs of this bread... Mmmmm...