Monday, January 17, 2011

Who Will Help Me Grind the Wheat?

Well, I guess I'm a woman now.  (My sister-in-law once wrote that to her brother on a mission.  It makes me laugh.  A lot.)  Following my dinner roll triumph were several cooking disasters.  It was most upsetting.  I attempted to bake with whole wheat flour.  I had assumed all along that yeast was my nemesis.  It turns out whole wheat is the real bad guy.  I threw away a whole lotta inedible bread-like products last week.  It was very discouraging.

Then this past week my friend was giving away the world's oldest wheat grinder and I snatched it up.  Even though it was crazy messy and the machine gave off a horrible smell, I was so proud of myself for actually grinding my own wheat like a real woman.

At last month's cooking club, my friend Emily did a demonstration on how to make this wheat bread.  It was beyond helpful and demystified the whole process for me.  I decided to give her recipe a try.  I really liked that this recipe only makes two loaves.  (Less to throw away when you mess it all up.)  Yesterday I made my first edible wheat bread. 

My goal for the year is to revisit some of my past failures and see if I can turn them into successes.  So often I'll try something once and decide I'm simply not cut out for it.  I'm finding that's a load of crap.  So far, I've been able to at least find an appreciation for those things I've tried again. 

All Harrison wants to eat is my amazing wheat bread (yes, it's mine now) but that requires grinding more wheat.  This morning I prepared the wheat grinder and turned it on.  It made a groaning sound, so I turned it off.  Sparks came flying from the switch.  I tried ten more times to get it to work and had the same result.  Since we don't live close enough to Colonial Williamsburg for me to take it to someone who would know how to fix it, we'll have to lay it to rest.  I guess it just had one job left in it.

For my thoughts on MLK Day, click HERE.

14 Wisecracks:

KQ said...

That is quite the wheat grinder!

My wheat grinder has been packed away in storage this last year while we've been moving around. I learned that if you buy white whole wheat flour made from white wheat (rather than red wheat), it's a lighter softer taste, good for baking. I've made pancakes with both kinds of flour, and the white wheat flour is much lighter than the hockey puck/brick pancakes from the wheat flour made from red wheat.

Patti said...

Bravo! That is a beautiful loaf! One of my favorite parts of "Eight Cousins" is where Rose tries to master the art of making bread. Her uncle's buttery kiss on her forehead when she triumphs still makes me cry just thinking about it. That's how I felt when I read the words "all Harrison wants to eat is my amazing wheat bread". Another triumph my dear! Now about that wheat grinder. Amazing relic! I've offered to grind people's wheat for them. Put out a call. I'm sure there is someone in your ward who would be just as willing.

allyn said...

we were out of bread a few weeks ago, so i thought i would use my new wheat grinder that i got for Christmas, and make some amazing bread. i did it and made lunches with the yummy bread. adam told me after school in a triumphant voice, that he ate all of his sandwich. i was like, "don't you usually eat your whole sandwich?" then he screamed that he hates that other bread. so, basically he has been wasting a whole lot of bread during this school year and now i have to keep up the bread making in order for him not to waste bread.
congrats on another triumph! let's hear it for stick-to-it-ness!!
p.s. i got friended by your father-in-law this weekend. i felt quite honored.

melissa said...

Thanks for the love, bread bakers! Jeff and I were debating whether or not it makes a difference to use fresh ground wheat or store-bought wheat flour. Thanks for the tip, Kikka. I keep hearing that fresh ground makes a difference. Is this truth?

A friend request from Pops is, indeed, a great honor. :)

KQ said...

I can't answer that question, because I've only ever used red wheat in my grinder. I used Allyn's wheat bread recipe for a couple years with the fresh ground red wheat and loved it. Then with all the moving, I slacked off and just bought bread at the store. I just discovered white whole wheat flour in the store this year. If I had to guess though, I would say the stuff you grind yourself is better. I don't know why I'm guessing that, but I am. :) Maybe I'll do some research and find out for you.

Ted said...

My experience with store bought flour is mainly that it can be difficult to get the gluten to work up. But if you add gluten to your mix it can usually counter balance it.

Also in wet environments, sometimes that store bought flour can have a slightly "0ff" flavor.

That's all I have noticed.

allyn said...

very observant of you, ted. such a scientific response. i would like to know what else you have discovered and if it is enough to do a science fair project with.

i have also used gluten and it does make a nice, pliable loaf that doesn't dry out as fast.

melissa said...

Thanks, Ted. I have gluten. (You know, for all that bread I make?) I'll give it a try.

Andrea Lee U.R. said...

And when Harrison tells you he wants to eat more bread, you just smile back and say "I was the one to grind the wheat, I made the dough, I baked the bread, and now I will eat it all by myself." ha ha!
(I always thought the little red hen was a little over the top for not letting anyone eat it after they had been so lazy......I mean come on!! ;))

Way to go on your bread!! I am craving some wheat toast with jam now. mmmmm!!

Nicole said...

I'm reading "At Home" by Bill Bryson right now (well not RIGHT now) and I totally thought of you when I read the following:

"Wheat is useless as a food until made into something much more complex and ambitious like bread, and that takes a great deal of effort." {A few sentences on the bread making process.} "And finally the resulting lump must be baked with precision and care. The scope for failure in the last step alone is so great that in every society in which bread has featured, baking has been turned over to professionals from the earliest stages."

That makes you a professional. :)

melissa said...

Awwww. Thanks, Nicole. That makes me happy all over.

Umm. . . when do you have time to read?

Chelsea Monet said...

Melissa, your bread looks so good I can smell it through my computer. Yum.
I just started grinding my wheat this month too. I never thought I'd get excited about it, but how can I not when even MY kids, who've hated bread their entire lives will eat MY BREAD. In fact Sophie asked me if I could send my bread with the deacons so they could use it for the sacrament.
I could have cried I was so happy.
By the way, we are reading "Where the Red Fern Grows." Have you read that one yet to your kids? It is a great read a loud.

Kimberly said...

Good job on the wheat bread.

Gluten is key, like everyone says.

Also, I really like freshly ground wheat. If you don't go to a store with high turnover, you run the risk of rancid wheat (it goes bad really fast since all the bran and oils and stuff from the wheat is mixed in).

I use white wheat for baking cookies/muffins/pancakes, etc but I really like the flavor of the red wheat in bread.

Also, I like to freeze my wheat berries before grinding to keep the machine and the flour from getting so hot.

Those are my thoughts on wheat. If you can find a friend with a grinder who will let you grind some, grind a bunch and then freeze it if you think you won't use it all quickly.

I have and love a whisper mill (now called wondermill). It's not inexpensive but maybe for your birthday/christmas presents you can beg for flour mill funds.

Too many words in this - sorry about that.

melissa said...

I made another batch of bread with store bought white wheat flour and added gluten and dough enhancer. The results were the same, if not better. Definitely better than the storebought red wheat flour I've used in the past.

I'm afraid my price range for a wheat grinder is from free to $5. As long as there's wheat flour at the store, I'll be fine.
Thanks for the great tips, all!