Milling Flour

Admit it, one of the best things about baking from scratch is the self righteous satisfaction. Oh, I don't ever use mixes. My brownies are from scratch...

This weekend I hit the DIY pinnacle of bread baking. Oh, I don't ever use store-bought flour, I mill my own.

Alright, let me be real for a second. I'm a frozen pie crust using, occasional jar-sauce pasta maker. I'm not going to diminish anyone's attempts at home cooking, but there is something so awesome about snatching back a daily staple like bread from the hands of big food corporations.

Thanks to my Thanksgiving hostess Marcia, I had the opportunity to really stick it to Agri Biz and the gang. About ten years ago Marcia bought 600 pounds of wheat berries. Stored airtight in her basement, she has been grinding flour and turning out fresh loaves ever since. When I asked her why she went to the trouble she said, "It's about going back to basics."


Basically fresh milled flour looks and feels like fine, sun-warmed, sand and smells like a walk in a damp forest. Who knew?

Having a mechanized bread kneader helps, but the old fashioned way is not impossible.
A house that smells of yeast and oven-hot loaves feels calm and safe.

With all the equipment needed, I probably won't get to mill flour again for a very long time, but the Pillsbury Doughboy needs to start looking over his shoulder. People are beginning to question where their food comes from. We can't all commit to 600 pounds of wheat berries, but we can look for ways for our food to pass through fewer hands before it hits or tables.

Lingo Translation
DIY- Do It Yourself
Agro Biz- Large scale food production business like Tyson.


Marcia's Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

3 cups warm water
2 tbs yeast
11/2 tbs salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey (raw is best)
2 eggs
9-10 cups whole wheat flour

Whisk water, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.
Add oil and honey.
Add 3 cups of flour whisking well.
Allow mixture to rest for five minutes. (Small bubbles will confirm active yeast.)
Whisk in eggs.
Blend in 6 cups of the remaining flour using hands or a large spoon.
Turn dough out onto a well floured surface.
Knead dough for 8-10 minutes gradually adding remaining flour.
Dough should be resistant to kneading but slightly tacky to touch. (There may be some remaining flour.)
Place dough ball in a lightly buttered bowl, covering with plastic wrap.
Allow to rise 1-11/2 hours. Dough should triple in size.
Punch down dough and remove from bowl.
Knead for 30-45 seconds creating a uniform consistency.
Cut into 3 equal sized pieces.
Roll out each piece creating an oval shape that is 1/2 inch thick.
Roll up flattened dough creating a loaf shape.
Pinch all seams and tuck edges under for a smooth shape.
Place in buttered bread pans allowing to rise another 40 minutes. Loaves should fill the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Loaves should be golden brown.
Turn out of pans immediately and allow to cool on a rack.


7 comments:

  1. There is no way I'm buying 600 pounds of wheat, but I would love to try that bread. -Jen

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  2. It is getting easier to find wheat berries in the bulk sections of neighborhood stores, making purchases you can carry home with ease (in bags you use again and again of course) possible. Thanks for the recipe suggesting olive oil - we'll try it! Pat

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  3. Make sure you use flour from hard white wheat if you want the softer texture. Red wheat will give a more rustic texture to your bread.

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  4. Thanks for the tips Pat and Marcia. You guys have been championing this way of life for a long time. Thank you.

    Jen, it looks like Pat has the answer to your problem. Now you have to find the equipment.

    PHD, I see you made cookies recently. Maybe bread is next.

    ReplyDelete
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  6. Marcia should be careful about a fungus called ergot. storing cereal can be dangerous...

    ReplyDelete

FOOD IS ONE OF THE MOST VISCERAL ASPECTS OF A CULTURE; IT CAN BE EXPERIENCED WITH NO LANGUAGE SKILLS, NO GUIDE, AND MOST TIMES WITH VERY LITTLE MONEY.