Saturday, April 29, 2006

homemade wholegrain bread

I am a nerd and a freak, and sometimes I make my own bread. "Sweet Pea" over at Garden of Eatin' asked for a good wholegrain bread recipe. This is one I've used with great success in the past, and it's courtesy of Cooking Light magazine (October 2005). The recipe title is "Whoe Wheat Sunflower Oat Bread." It's somewhat complicated, because you have to make a sponge, but this helps lighten the texture of the bread -- this is the only homemade wholegrain bread I've found tender enough to use for things other than toast! (I have slightly altered the recipe to make it vegan.)

1 cup oat groats
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one package, NOT the rapid-rise stuff)
2 1/2 cups water at 110 to 115 degrees Farenheight (I measure with a digital thermometer)
2 tablespoons honey (you could use sugar or agave nectar, but I'd probably increase the amount to 3 tablespoons if you use sugar, since honey is twice as sweet as sugar)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
5 3/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour, divided (I prefer whole wheat bread flour)
1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels

1. Toast the groats in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes or in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. (I prefer the second option -- I think it's easier.) Cool.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium bowl and let it stand 5 minutes. Add the honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
3. Add 3 cups flour to the yeast mixture, and stir well. Stir in the groats. Cover and let this mixture stand 1 hour at warm room temperature. (My favorite place to do this is in my "cold" gas oven -- the pilot light keeps it slightly warmer than room temperature.) The mixture will poof up and get bubbly -- this is called a "sponge."
4. Stir in remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and sunflower seeds to sponge. Add 2 1/2 cups flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until elastic, about 10 minutes. Add enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers -- it should feel smooth and slightly tacky, but not stick.
5. Place the dough in a large bowl that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly spritz the top of the dough, and cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap, sticking it directly to the surface of the dough. Let the dough rise in a warm place again for an hour, or until it is double in size.
6. Punch the dough down and let it rest 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Press each dough ball out into a 14X7 inch rectangle. Roll up each rectangle snugly, starting with the short end, pressing to eliminate air pockets. Pinch the seams to seal them, and place the dough rolls seam-side down in two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Cover them and let them rise in a warm place until they are double in size, for about 30 minutes.
7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheight. Uncover and bake the loaves for 40 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned and sound hollow when you tap on them with your finger. Cool the bread on a wire rack.


Flo @ Yielded Heart said...

Hi, Catherine. Thanks for sharing this. I always have making my own bread on the back of my mind. I'm saving your bread recipe.

I picked up a really good, still warm, bread at Breadsmith today (with flaxseeds, cranberries). I asked if it has honey but the guy wasn't sure so he started to look in the book. But hey, there were like 20 ppl behind me so I saved the guy (and everyone else) the trouble and just got the bread. The family devoured most of the loaf just on the way home!

Everyday Superhero said...

Thanks Catherine! I would like to try my hand at baking bread. My mom would be so proud. I'll keep you posted.

Eat Peace Please said...

Catherine, wow, you've changed your format/colors, which I think looks really nice. I can't really comment on this post because I haven't used my oven since December. I will keep it in mind though, it sounds great.

About the cat litter: I got it! It was at Target. I also printed out a complete refund on the Feline Pine website, which is super-cool. I did the start-up mix with the old litter, so I'll see how Killian likes it, it's been three days now. Thanks so much I enjoyed pouring it in without holding my breath and a bunch of dust going up my nose and in my throat! I hope this is going to be a winner.

Dori said...

"I am a nerd and a freak, and sometimes I make my own bread."

My name is Dori. I must admit sometimes I make my own bread too. (hangs head in shame, not sure if coming out is good).

Hey, I subscribe to the magazine Light & Tastey too. I love grainy breads! The tomato soup is finally blogged. I was just thinking I am really weird, I had to wait to take a picture of red liquid.... not like it even makes the meal look appealing, it is just red liquid! But a tastey red liquid.

I like the look of your new page. I almost wasn't sure if I was visiting the right spot, but I scrolled down and saw the kitty.

sarchan said...

Neat! (Thanks for commenting on my blog, btw.) Baking bread is awesome. I will definitely have to try this sometime soon!

Catherine Weber said...

Hee, hee!

Sorry the format change threw everyone -- I really like this one so much better, though. The old, big fonts were a bit cumbersome, I thought. Cute, but cumbersome.

Dori, I don't think I'm a nerd and a freak for making my own bread, (nor do I think you are!), but many of my friends think I'm INSANE! Although they don't complain much when they get to eat it. :) We food nerds are a lot of fun, I think!

Leslie, I'm glad the litter's working out!

Everyone, let me know how your bread turns out if you make some!

And Sarchan, thanks for stopping by. I totally called you by the wrong name in my comment on your blog! Sheesh. I sometimes get mixed up when I'm trying to visit and comment on everyone's blogs . . . sorry!!!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

this bread sounds amazing. i love bread -- esp. grainy bread. but i'm scard to attempt making it! :o)
i think your new look is awesome -- your blue & purple links look pretty against the black.

Catherine Weber said...

Vicki, you should try making bread sometime -- start with something easy, like a pizza crust. Your girls would enjoy helping knead the dough, I bet! I really believe everyone should learn to bake bread at some point in their lives, because once you get the hang of it, it's just so easy and fun and tastes better than the best storebought bread and makes your house smell AWESOME. Plus, it's impressive. :) Well, I guess if everyone actually learned how to bake bread, it wouldn't be that impressive. Oh well.
Thanks for the template props! I like it, too -- the old one was cool and funky, but the big, blobby fonts were getting on my nerves. This is a little more straightforward, although a bit boring. Nothing compared to your fields of flowers!

Shawn Powers said...

Any bread I've ever made (mostly in a breadmaker... lazy me...) has been so tough that a person can't possibly eat a sandwich on it. I don't mind tough crust, but I really really like veggie sandwiches, and soft bread is a must.

How do the bread companies get such soft, lovely bread?!?!

Harmonia said...

A gal of many talents!!!

Thanks for the tea comments, btw. Some of those Stash Tea's I have had but ones I would really like to try is the mango one. I'm intrugued by the licorce but am not sure if I would like it...maybe I will get daring one of these days!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

thanks for the suggestion, catherine. you're right, i should begin with some pizza dough. liv loves rolling out cookie dough & according to her the cookie cutters are the best kitchen gadgets we have.

Catherine Weber said...

Shawn: the article from Cooking Light that this recipe came from explains how wholegrain storebought bread is so light -- it's the "sponge" method. Fermenting the yeast with some flour makes it nice and light. Yum.

Vicki: easy pizza recipe!

1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons honey or natural granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (110 to 115 degrees Farenheight)
1 cup whole-wheat bread flour
1 cup durum semolina flour (or more bread flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the yeast, honey or sugar, and warm water. Allow this mixture to rest for 5 minutes. (It will foam quite a bit. This tells you your yeast is awake and ready to rock!)
2. Whisk together the flours and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture with your fingers, and pour the yeast mixture into the hole. Use your fingers to slowly and gently stir the dough together, taking just as much flour as you need to. When you have just enough flour the dough should feel slightly tacky, but not stick to your fingers.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, or until it is nice and smooth. Add more flour, a little at a time, if the dough starts sticking to your fingers.
4. Spray a clean bowl with cooking spray. Plop your dough into the bowl, spray the top of the dough with cooking spray, and cover it with plastic wrap. Let your dough rise in a warm place (like the inside of your cold gas oven – the pilot light keeps it slightly toasty inside!) for about 30 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
5. While you are waiting for your dough to rise, prepare your toppings.
6. Pull your dough out of the cold oven and preheat it to 450 degrees Farenheight. Put your oven rack in the bottommost position
7. Spray a 9X13 pan or 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Lightly dust this pan with semolina flour, cornmeal, or bread flour.
8. Punch your dough down and knead it gently for a couple of minutes. Begin easing your dough out into a flat, round disk, (or rectangle, if you’re using a 9X13 pan.) Keep gently stretching the dough until it fits your pan, building up the edges slightly. (If your dough tears, just smush the hole shut and keep going.) This may take you a couple of minutes.
9. Top your pizza, then let it rest for about 5 minutes.
10. Bake your pizza for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese (if using) begins to brown.
11. Let your pizza rest for 5 minutes before slicing to prevent cheese run-off (and to keep you from burning your mouth, too!)

(This is copied almost word-for-word from my cookbook draft. Are the directions easy enough to follow?)

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

I *heart* you! Thank you, thank you for giving me your pizza dough recipe. Expect some homemade pizza a la Catherine sometime soon. :o) It's from your cookbook draft?! I remember your muffin flavor post...will it be a vegan baking cookbook?

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

ps -- I have whole wheat flour --- it doesn't say "bread flour" is it different?

Catherine Weber said...


The working title of my cookbook is "Party of One: Healthy Food for Single People." It's a three meal plus snacks plus desserts plus breads cookbook for single folks -- easy, healthy recipes that make a small number of servings for those of us who are trying to feed ourselves and not spend a fortune on food. It's conversationally informative, I hope, and vegetarian. Most of the baking is vegan, because eliminating eggs from a recipe is a really easy way to cut out saturated fat and calories. Generally, all of the recipes follow the way I try to eat: lots of fruits and veggies, wholegrain, vegetarian, whole/minimally processed foods, low/no saturated fat, and mostly plant protein. I haven't worked on my cookbook in ages, though -- I feel a little disconnected from it! :(

Regular or all-purpose whole wheat flour is different from whole wheat bread flour, which is also different from ww pastry flour. WW bread flour has a higher protein (gluten) content, which makes for chewier, yummier breads that rise better. WW pastry flour has a low protein content, which makes for tender baked goods such as muffins, scones, and cookies.

You could use regular whole wheat flour in the bread recipe, because that's what the original recipe calls for. If you see yourself becoming a bread maker, I'd invest in some WW bread flour, but if this is just an experiment, the AP WW flour should work fine! Good luck!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Thanks, again! Brilliant idea: "Party of One: Healthy Food for Single People." I have several friends who would be super interested in your cookbook. Maybe your new found time in the morning would help you reconnect?!