Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Whole Wheat French Bread

When I first started making my own bread, I used my breadmaker.  I had several recipes in my collection and the breadmaker recipe for French bread from Towards Sustainability was (and still is) my favorite.  French bread appeared in all sorts of places in my meal plan.  It could be found as simply French bread with spaghetti or as slices of French toast or even as garlic parmesan croutons.  All were yummy.  Sadly, one day my breadmaker pan started leaking.  I had used it to the point that one of the welds on the bottom broke and started leaking any liquid that I put in the pan.  Let's take a moment of silence...

Just kidding (kind of)!  I didn't have the funds to replace the breadmaker so I started making bread by hand.  I found that it wasn't very difficult and given the amount of bread I make, I have arms of steel (kind of). LOL

Anyway, enough of my blabbering, I was concerned that when I switched to whole wheat bread, that I would have trouble making all of the yeast breads that add so much to my meal plan.  I picked up a loaf of whole wheat bread at the local Mennonite store and read the ingredients:  Prairie Gold whole white wheat flour, honey, canola oil, water, salt, yeast, wheat gluten.  I had everything on hand except the gluten.  I decided that I would pick some up and give it a try to see what effect it had on my breads.

Recipe for French Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat gluten
2 tsp salt
3 tsp olive oil

In a small bowl mix warm water, yeast and sugar.  Stir a bit to dissolve.  Let sit 10 minutes or so to let the yeast do its thing.  Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, gluten, salt and olive oil.  Add the yeast mixture and stir to combine as much as you can.  When stirring gets tedious, turn the whole thing out on a clean counter.  Use your hands to push it all together, working all of the loose flour into the dough.  As it comes together, knead for several minutes, maybe 8-10.  Form the dough into a large ball and place it back in the mixing bowl.  Cover and place somewhere warm for an hour.  When the first rise is finished, punch down and I usually divide the dough in half to make 2 baguette type loaves, although making one big loaf is fine too.  Make a few diagonal slits across the top, cover and return to the warm place to rise a second time.  I usually do another hour.  At the end of the second rise, brush top and sides of loaves with milk and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

My review:  It smells awesome.  Every daycare parent that came to pick up their kids, noted how wonderful my house smelled.  I think the bread turned out ok.  The crust is a little tough.  It always was with the bread flour as well, but I think it's more noticeable with the wheat flour.  I probably baked it a bit too long.  I also used 4 cups of flour and then added the gluten, because I'm a little ditzy and forgot that I should take out some flour to make the gluten and flour together equal 4 cups.  The bread will still be really good for French toast and if there is any left, I'll make some croutons, but I think it's a little dry to just eat toasted with butter.  With the small changes, I'm sure that would soften it up a bit and make it a better whole grain French bread.

My middle child thinks it's awesome and was trying to chew some off the end of the loaf.  She's 8.  You wouldn't think I would have to explain how inappropriate that is, but I did!

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