Once you’ve tasted banana bread made with the rich taste of fresh whole wheat flour you won’t want to go back to the comparatively bland taste of loaves made with white four.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread – ready for lunch
As a quick bread this loaf is easy to pull together. Unlike many other banana breads I’ve tried that are sweetened enough to be deserts this rich load has less added sugar and relies more on the sweetness in the bananas combining with the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour to form a hearty snack or lunch loaf just begging to be combined with a few slices of aged cheddar.
Combined with cheese a couple of slices of this are a hit for lunches – adding healthy variety.
I think one of the most common afflictions that touch our society is not obesity – though that is certainly a concern, but rather “over-complication-itis”. OK, so maybe the medical community won’t be adding this affliction to their standard list of diagnoses but that doesn’t mean it isn’t prevalent, nor that it isn’t serious. So, how would you diagnose someone suffering from “over-complication-itis” – well it’s simple… or rather it is an individual who lacks the ability to see simplicity. More precisely, an individual who lacks the ability to examine and break down processes that lead to final products into their simple components.
Brunch – fresh whole wheat bagels with smoked salmon accompanied by asparagus
These bagels provide a case study. Bagels are awesome, but I bet if you asked most folks who buy them – even those who purchase them from shops that make them right in front of the customer if they could make them – they’d balk at the suggestion. The complexity exists only in their minds.
If you’ve been following these posts we’ve shown our favorite tried and true bread recipe, we then showed how to take the same recipe and use the dough to make some awesome buns – by forming the dough and baking it in the oven, bagels just add one step to the buns – boiling the formed dough before baking. That’s it. Really, no need for a wood fired oven, no need for a food science degree or even to convert to Judaism. Those things might help but if you make them personal prerequisites you might as well check yourself into an institution with “over-complication-itis” because you won’t be checking out all of the opportunities that exits out here in the real world.
For those of you that haven’t dialed 911, click on the headline for the simple recipe instructions.
Oh, and the solution for obesity – eat reasonable amounts of good food – like these fresh whole wheat bagels and engage in physical activity.
Growing up my parents had a pretty leave-it-to-beaver division of roles. My father brought home the bacon and my mother cooked it. They were both pretty happy with that division, and it’s only been since his retirement that my father has started baking. But, like most rules there were exceptions – two in this case. When camping my father did all of the cooking, and when pancakes were on the weekend menu – well those were his too. He got pretty good at making pancakes.
Maple syrup from our own trees to complement whole wheat pancakes
Those pancakes were always made with plain old white flour and smothered in syrup – often pancake syrup rather than real maple syrup. Now, I’m not exactly up for the division of roles that suited both of my parents but, I still love pancakes and so do my kids. That said, in my home pancakes are made with freshly milled whole grain flour – usually whole wheat, and the syrup is real maple syrup.
I love how the richness of the whole wheat combines with sweet maple flavor. It’s interesting too, how four good sized pancakes with a drizzle of syrup forms a meal that satisfies for hours whereas it took a pile of white flour pancakes in a sea of syrup to fill me up at the table.
Shifting from producing loaves of bread with a tried and true recipe to hamburger buns (or dinner rolls for that matter) is as simple as can be. Fundamentally we are only reshaping the dough and then baking it in the oven rather than allowing the bread machine pan to define the shape and the machine to do the baking for us.
The taste of summer – a burger with all the fixings piled high on a toasted whole wheat bun
Whole wheat buns are a great combination with burgers – instead of squishing into thin disk of wheat paste they hold their shape without being too dense and add a heartiness to a burger that just isn’t there with store bought fare. Baking your own not only provides unrivaled freshness but also allows you to determine the size of the buns… Baby buns for the wee folks, mama buns or even the papa buns that hold the largest burgers.
The process is so easy that you can’t go wrong and after you’ve had these you won’t want to return to store bought fare so get some fresh whole wheat flour and get baking.
Here we are using the standard Baler-Twine bread recipe, but setting the machine on the dough cycle instead of the bread cycle. If your machine’s dough cycle stops after the first rise reset it to the dough cycle and let the machine kneed the dough again before shutting it off and removing the dough.
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.