Some items are inherently useful and end up serving all manner of roles, duct tape is one and for those closer to farm operations baler twine is another.
The whole wheat bread recipe is just that in my household – the go-to staple that forms the basis of so many other yeast risen baked goods. Given how versatile this recipe is, and in homage to the farmers that produce so much of our food I’ve named it my “baler-twine whole wheat bread”.
Sliced “baler twine” whole wheat bread
The reason it’s become so popular in our household is that you give nothing up in comparison to commercial breads. It rises just as nicely as white bread which I am sure is one of the features which has made it so popular with everyone.
The effective leavening I am sure is attributable to a few factors, including the inclusion of eggs and vinegar, the reduction in salt and the increase in sugar – which both encourage yeast production and make up for the reduction in the relative proportion of gluten in the whole extraction flour compared to white flours.
The other factor here is without a doubt the fineness of the flour grind. As discussed previously if you want to produce fine grade baking you can’t start by using coarse flour. So make sure that whether you are using a Homestead grain mill you’ve built for yourself or a mill you’ve purchased you put the extra effort and time into ensuring the flour you are baking with is ground exceptionally fine.
Closeup of “baler twine” whole wheat bread – note the fine structure
While you can certainly use this recipe to make bread by hand I always use a bread machine. The only other item – beyond the fineness of the flour grind to take note of is the need to have the dough achieve a comparatively moist consistency at the beginning of the cycle relative to white breads since the whole grain flour takes longer to absorb the moisture.
Give this recipe a whirl and I think you’ll find that not only will you not feel the need to go back to store bought or homemade white breads but that your family and friends won’t want you to either.
Like so many seasonal or holiday baked goods hot crossed buns can be prepared any time of the year. It’s not like the bakery gremlins are going to jump out from behind the wheat barrel and confiscate “unseasonal” baking. But, all the same, there is something to be said about allowing traditions and the flow of the seasons to prompt us to mix up our culinary repertoire.
Let Easter (or now) serve as the reason to mix up your baking by preparing a batch of hot crossed buns. If you can make buns you can make hot crossed buns – the only difference is the addition of a few spices to our standard whole wheat yeast bread recipe along with a cup of raisins added just before the dough is kneaded for the second time. When the buns have cooled they get a tiny bit of icing. That’s it. Simple, easy, fast and a delicious difference. Make a batch and the bakery gremlins who make these disappear will end up being your family members.
This has been my pretty much my standard do it all whole wheat bread recipe for years. While this bread has all the health benefits of fresh 100% extraction whole wheat flour you don’t need to sell it on that basis – it tastes good.
I don’t think many folks would accuse me of being too caught up with sticking to recipes. In fact when developing and trialing ones to relay here I have to force myself to measure and record. That is due in part to my experience that most baking is fairly forgiving. The most critical element usually is ensuring the moisture level is correct.
If you are new to baking with whole grain flours be aware that they take longer to absorb liquid, and depending upon the moisture level in the grain you may need to adjust the volume of liquid in your recipe. I always look to achieve what would for white flour be considered a bit too wet (but not soupy) a dough when the dough ball is first formed by the machine. This seems to end up being just about the right amount of liquid to make a nice loaf.