Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A little leaven...

O.K. Athens people, this Saturday, January 15th, at 12 noon, my friend Ruth is giving a bread making demonstration at Maddox Feed and Seed. Need gluten free? Allergic to wheat? Want to use different types of grains in your bread? Ruth will have your answer.

I bake bread for the family almost every week. This isn't just any bread, it's a meal! Each slice has somewhere around 7 gms. of fiber. What's more is that the wheat is milled immediately before baking, which leaves no time for losing nutrients during storage. There are no additives or bleaching in this bread; everything a wheat berry has to offer is right inside. My maternal grandmother, Ethel McKenzie, used to recite this little saying (tongue-in-cheek), "The whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead," while she was making my Sunday cheese and mayonnaise sandwich...on Publix white bread (to be followed by a scoop of Webb's City French vanilla ice cream). Apparently she was right...thanks Mawmaw.

Buying your wheat berries is the hardest part of the process. Fortunately, Janice at Maddox Feed and Seed is now carrying 45lb buckets of wheat. Otherwise you can usually locate a local food co-op to purchase from. Message Daniel Dover on Facebook and he can tell you about his co-op. Our family of 6 (those still at home eating regularly) uses about 4 buckets per year. I use the wheat in all of my baking, and you don't need to add any white flour to make it rise. This whole wheat is very light in color and can almost pass for white in most cookies etc. My chocolate cookies, pancakes, and pie crust have a nice body and at least a little more nutrition.

Here's a sneak peak at one process that Ruth will be sharing. This is how I bake bread for our family. Ruth made a few adjustments to my recipe recently and the results were amazing!

Ingredients for 8 loaves:

4 1/2 c. hot water
3 c. cold milk
7 eggs
1 c. oil (put this in the measuring glass first and your honey will slide right out with it)
1 c. honey
4 1/2 tbsp. yeast
2 1/2 tbsp. salt
18-22 c. flour. I use 1 c. of hard red wheat for every 3 c. of hard white. (you add flour until the dough just starts to pull away and clean the sides of the bowl).

Note - I'm a total wuss and I don't bake on rainy days. I've had too many fallen loaves on those types of days.

Step One - Mill the berries in the counter top mill. This sounds a little like a small band saw in your kitchen. If you overfill the hopper you will find yourself in a cloud of flour and have yourself an hour's dusting project in the kitchen, ehem...it's rough.

Step Two - Place your ingredients in the Bosch Universal Mixer (or a pathetic substitute...I'm jus' sayin"). The Bosch is a beast. My friend Sally is still using hers after 35 years and 10 kids! Mine is now getting close to 10 years old. Other than damaged mixing paddles I've never had a repair (touch wood). Mix for 12 minutes.

Step Three - Place the heaving blob of dough on the oiled counter top or in a very big bowl to rise for 20 minutes. While you are waiting you can wash the dough which is still clinging to the bowl and bread paddle. This is my least favorite job.

Step Four - Oil your hands and divide the dough in 1 1/2 - 2 lb. dough balls and place into oiled baking pans. I prefer glass or stoneware baking pans...but I only have two :(

Step Five - Allow to rise until just a bit taller than the pan. Do not go to the barn and begin talking with the animals, and then notice that the gate needs a small repair, and then decide to do some garden work, while the bread is rising - unless you have an alarm on your person. Yup, did this too and came home to find the bread crawling over the edge of the counter and heading toward the floor. I guess it was going to leave the house and come find me. Once you add the yeast its alive.

Step Six - Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Again, don't go to the barn. You will come home to find the house filled with smoke, fire alarm blasting, and the inside dogs wide-eyed and frantic. O.K., so I'm a bit distractible (and that is spelled correctly - I checked...-able is o.k. too).

Step Seven (so close to Heaven) - Remove from pans immediately and let cool before eating or storing. If you have tall indoor dogs do not leave the bread on the counter and go to the barn. You get the concept. It's best to stay with the bread until it is put away.

I'd say the whole process takes about an hour and a half. Much of that time can be spent doing other things (not at the barn). You can easily do this while getting a bit done around the house. For most families the eight loaves that this recipe yields might carry over for two weeks...it keeps well in the fridge and freezes right nice too.

Two toasted slices with some sliced turkey, green leaf lettuce, mayo/dijon mustard on one side, and jellied cranberry sauce on the other, and Whoa Nelly!

This bread in your favorite french toast recipe will make you just giddy.

When you can bake bread (and especially if you can preserves) you always have a gift to give. All you need are gift bags and you are never without.

I'll be working with the mammas and the babies this Saturday, so write and tell me what you think about Ruth's demo. You're gonna love the folks at Maddox too, it's not your average cooking demo venue - you can wear your cowboy boots and jeans.

Ya'll have fun!


  1. Keri,

    Have you compared the Bosch to the Whisper Mill? My wife has been looking for one of these and I'd like it to last if I'm going to pay $200+

  2. Did I tell you that our next door neighbor makes good wholesome bread like this for us? Fresh ground wheat berries and everything. $5 a loaf. Totally worth it. We only go through a loaf every week or so. Just the two of us...


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