It’s been a busy week on the Ridge. Just when we were being lulled into a false sense of spring, Mother Nature reminded us that it was still early. Fortunately, I had enough sense to not get carried away planting things. I have a few greens planted and some seeds started in the house; but I haven’t done much else in the way of gardening. I am pretty excited for this year’s growing season. Since we have been practicing locavoria, I have a greater appreciation for the things I planted last year. I’m looking forward to trying a few new veggies this year and experimenting with a few techniques to extend the gardening season.
In the meantime, I’ve been in the kitchen experimenting with “local” flour. For years I’ve tried various 100% whole wheat bread recipes and ended up with various dry, tasteless, brown bricks. The best I could come up with was a mixture of whole wheat and white flour but the results still were not consistent. I finally gave up bread making and started buying a whole grain bread from the grocery store…until we became locavores.
In our quest for local grains, I called God’s Little Garden in Cranberry and asked where their flour comes from. Calvin confirmed that it was from Frankferd Farms, which I mentioned in an earlier article – a local source. So I made a trip to Cranberry to purchase flour. When I arrived I found that they only had one kind of whole wheat flour and it was whole wheat pastry flour; so I bought a five pound bag. At the time, I was not sure what the difference was between whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, so I did a little research.
Whole wheat flour is made from hard, red, wheat and is ground to a coarse texture. It has a stronger flavor and is heavier than other flours. In contrast whole wheat pastry flour is made from soft, winter wheat and is ground to a finer consistency. It has a milder flavor, less protein and less gluten than regular whole wheat flour. I soon grew to love Pastry flour and was able to use it in all of my baking with good results.
One day while leafing through some old copies of Countryside Journal, I came across a very simple 100% whole wheat bread recipe. After making this bread several times with great success, I am excited to share this recipe with those who are interested in making a simple 100% whole wheat bread.
100% Whole Wheat Bread Makes one loaf
Dissolve 1 ½ tsp. of yeast in ½ cup of warm water for 5 minutes and set aside (I buy my yeast at the Corner Cupboard in Franklin in a one pound bag for about $4.00)
Combine 3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 T. of honey. Add 1 cup of cold liquid (this can be water, whey or buttermilk) plus the yeast and water mixture. I use my stand mixer with the dough hooks. Mix for 12-15 minutes. (you can mix by hand, but it takes 25 or so minutes.) Half way through the mixing, add 1 T. of butter and continue mixing.
Allow to rise uncovered for 1-1 ½ hours. Punch down and allow to rise again 45-60 minutes. Form into a loaf, place in a greased pan and allow to rise a third time 45-60 minutes. The dough will be quite stiff.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees-reduce to 350 when you put the loaf in the oven. Bake 35 minutes.
This is honestly the best tasting 100% whole wheat bread I have ever eaten. It stays soft, cuts easily without crumbling and makes great sandwiches and toast. I encourage you to give it a try. I’ll be mixing up a batch in the morning. If you lose the recipe, I’ll post it on our web page at www.bigoakridge.org. Happy baking!
Until next week,