Every since we received our bread machine for a wedding present, we’ve enjoyed making homemade bread. There’s nothing like the smell and taste of it! After doing South Beach phase one, I am so ready to resume some bread making. However, I really want to hone my skills with whole grain breads. Whole grains prove a particular challenge in that they don’t rise or have the light texture quite like a white bread will & often require some added assistance to make a terrific loaf. A good friend, Kristine, has started a “Best Bread Bake-off” on her family blog to record her adventures in bread making & keep track of the winners, so I figure we’d join her in her quest!
One of the first requirements for bread making is using the best of ingredients. A few years back, some good friends in a cooking group introduced me to the wonders of King Arthur Flour and I’ve been a convert ever since. King Arthur Flour is America’s oldest flour company, circa 1790, or when George Washington was elected president! Two of my favorite products are the Unbleached Bread Flour and their White Whole Wheat Flour. Their White Whole Wheat (WWW) is the most amazing product when you want the goodness of whole grains, but don’t want the heavier taste, color & texture of regular Whole Grain Flour. Typically, I substitute 1/2 or more of flour recipes with WWW now. The King Arthur website has the most amazing repository of recipes, cooking tips and a terrific cookbook I’ve checked out at the library numerous times, but really want to purchase, King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking. Their catalog is a joy to pour through and I anxiously await each new edition.
That’s where I first read about vital Wheat Gluten and decided to give it a try. It’s available in many supermarkets and health food markets (I actually found mine at the Super Walmart.) It is a baker’s secret to amazingly light textured breada which can become quite dense with the addition of whole wheat and other grains.
My first experiment with it turned out really well and yielded a big, crusty loaf that was tender and chewy inside. I would definitely recommend using it in your whole grain baking. Here is a favorite recipe to try:
Kristine’s Honey Oat Bread
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. honey
2 T vegetable oil
1 t salt
3 c. white bread flour (I used equal parts bread flour and white whole wheat.)
1/2 c. raw oatmeal
2 t. yeast
Make in the breadmaker on “white” setting and “light” crust. Enjoy!
And finally a quick note about properly measuring flour that I never knew about or followed. From the KA book, I learned that you should not scoop flour directly from the cannister into your measuring cup. This will result in too much flour as you’ve packed it in there. Instead you want to aerate the flour first, by whisking or just stirring it up. Then take a smaller measuring scoop and spoon it into your measuring cup. Then take a knife and level it off gently. Tests showed that improperly measuring flour can result in 25% more flour in your recipe. I definitely think this has made a difference in my baked goods!