Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's a so-so, no-sew day...

and since I've promised myself not to sew, until Friday, and some of you have shown an interest in my wheat endeavors, I thought I'd share a little more. I promise to post a quilty post on Friday. In the mean time...

These are my everyday rolls. The children prefer them to sliced bread and even make little sandwiches from them. I do make loaves of bread, but this is the hot bread that we eat with our meals. I used to only make bread for special occasions- like when I wanted it real bad, or holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. That was before my bread-making liberation. It's like liberated quilting. See? It's still a litttle quilty around here. My friend, Mary, set me free and I have just sort of run with it. You know how, with regular quilting, you have to adhere to a very strict pattern if you want all of your peices to came together properly? And I always thought that bread-making had to be that way too- follow strict rules and recipes or else- a fate worse than death... Yucky bread. But it doesn't have to be that way!! It's improvisational bread-making and oh so much fun! Below is a picture of my wheat mill. People seemed pretty curious about it. The brand is Magic Mill. The wheat goes in the little hopper in the top, you flip the switch, a terrible ruckus emanates from it, and the grain slowly gets ground into flour- which is collected in the aluminum pan underneath. There is a dial there that adjusts for the coarseness of the wheat. It takes about 1 minute to grind 3 quarts of flour. Plenty for a jelly roll pan of rolls. Simple. Some one asked if I would recommend this mill...hmmm... I like it. It works. Having said that, there are annoyances that if I were a richer person, I could pay to do without. The machine is quite dusty- it shoots a fine powdering of flour out the back vent. This is diminished by placing a damp rag over it while operating and really, with 8 kids, what's a little more dust? Kerchoo! And getting to the flour, once milled, you have to remove the top white motor and it is quite heavy and held in place by these little buttons that need to be pressed simultaneously and I'm a girly girly and it can be a struggle, sometimes. Plus, when you set the motor part down on the counter- more flour everywhere. BUT, BUT, BUT... it is a great little machine and I think it would be a wonderful place to start if you are not sure if this would be something you would stick to over the long run. You don't need another handy appliance just collecting dust in the cupboards. Dh, Bill, bought this one for me on Ebay for $70, plus S&H about $100, total. The nicer, fancier mills, run about $350-500. I'd recommend the Whisper Mill and anything by Bosch. I plan on upgrading, eventually, and giving my Mom mine, but I am saving my pennies for a dining room- so I can share more bread!

You'll notice the 1-cup measing cup and the teaspoon by the mill? That's the equation for bread. For each heaping teaspoon of yeast, add one cup of hot water- if my 3 year old will wash his hands in that temperature of water, than I know it isn't too hot. (I'd highly recommend buying your yeast in the jar- that way you can decide how much you want to use instead of trying to figure out what to do with the portion they give you in that little packet.) Really, that's all there is to it. To start off, try this:

  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 spoon of yeast

Now, you add the things that you like in bread- get to know what you like and what makes it what you like. Have you ever seen the variety of bread in the supermarkets? There are no wrong choices here. Maybe this will help.

  • Sweet stuff- like honey and sugars make yeast feel loved.(higher and lighter and of course, sweeter)
  • High-fat things- eggs and milk and oil make bread feel cozy(moist)
  • salt- well, that gives savor
  • fiber- wheat germ and flax and sunflower seeds and oats- makes you have to chew more
  • Time- makes everything better

So here's what I like. Some honey- no don't measure, just think about the amount of bread you'll be making. 1 cup of water might make a 9x9" pan of rolls. So how much honey do you think you would like drizzled over those rolls? That's how much you add to the dough. A handful of oats and about half that of flax and wheat germ. Because I grind my own flour, I don't use any oil- there is already lots of those good oils that the Dr. is always telling you that you need more of in there! And then I start to add my flour maybe a cup, and a heaping spoon of salt. Stir, and add enough flour to make a thin batter- like pancake batter. This is the fun part. Set the pan on the counter and walk away. No timer, no schedule. Come back to it when you want- 30 minutes or when you get home from work. It can set overnight so there's fresh bread in the morning. It'll keep and just get better as it sets. When I am in the mood and my day allows, I return and add an egg and enough flour to make a soft, sticky dough- about 1/2 cup at a time. This should be soft and gushy- how's that for a technical term? I knead the bread until it pushes back some- about 8 minutes. Put it in a bowl with a little oil and oil the top- let rest for an hour or so, pinch off my rolls- easy does it here- it doesn't like to be messed with after you've kneaded it, but it'll only make your rolls kinda tough- they'll still taste good. Put them in a pan and let rise until double in size, maybe 30 minutes. Bake at 375* until browned on top- about 25 minutes or so. We brush ours with butter, so you don't need to butter them at the table. A word about flour...

Well, I don't know why this is, but you can't use whole wheat flour, bought at the store, like you would home ground. It is too strong-tasting (bitter) and it tends to make your bread very heavy. So most recipes that I have seen, recommend 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white. The way I make rolls, would convert easily to this- even all white flour- but lets call those rolls what they are- cake!

And I wanted to mention a bread cookbook that I love. It is, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. That's it on the shelf behind my mill. Yes, it is a tome- 750 pages. But filled with breads from across the country(he's a native Hoosier) and all around the world and even though I don't know him personally, I figure he can't be bad as he loves bread as much as I do! He even has a chapter on making your own adobe oven! But mostly it it just full of recipes, with great instructions, for bread. All kinds. You can do this, it couldn't be simpler and so much better for you... see? I'll restrain myself from a sermon here. Try it! You'll like it!


joyce said...

It is interesting to hear how you make your bread. I always make loaves, six at a time and freeze them. I have a pail of mixed grains and seeds in the freezer and I always dump a bunch of that in, also no measuring. I add leftover mashed potatoes and/or rice if I have them. If I start before 9 we have fresh bread for lunch. I haven't had a complaint yet!

cher said...

nothing beats home made bread-I made it all the time when I was first married-then things changed and I stopped for whatever reason. Nice to read your directions-you have a real knack of making it sound simple, which truly it is.

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

All very interesting Nines. I have made bread on occasion in the past, and I was surprised to hear how 'liquid' your dough is. I always thought it had to be stiffer. What's your take on that?

Carol said...

Oh yummmmmmy! There is nothing better than home made bread. I haven't made any in years. I think now's the time! Thanks for inspiring me.

Fiona said...

Thanks for sharing this - got to confess I only make bread once in a blue moon but I like reading about other people making it!

Darcie said...

My goodness! You are a walking encyclopedia in bread making! A wealth of knowledge I've just read in your post.

So that's what the "sponging" process is! I have never allowed my poor bread to do that. Perhaps I need to try that for! It's stormy outside...what could be better?

Thanks for the info on the Whisper Mill. Thanks for all of the're amazing, Nines!

Oh...and your *buns* look divine! LOL


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the info. I like the "when I get to it" in your directions. That's called LIFE.

Tracey said...

Okay...I'm gonna try this. I have always made our bread BY RECIPE...most of them memorized by now. ;o) However, I've never done it by...just 'whatever'. Should be interesting! Thank goodness our bread for the week is made already.;o)