Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wheat: The Staff of Life
I was asked to once again oversee the "Wheat Table" at the emergency preparedness fair this year. I'll be honest, I don't make wheat bread very often. I find that if I do, my family gets tired of eating it. But I do think I'm going to make it at least once a month from now on. When I was a newlywed, I thought making bread sounded difficult. But as I have become a better cook, I have gotten more familiar with baking and now I actually find it very easy. Some years ago I determined to learn how to make good wheat bread, so I went online and found a very good cook book. It is "Wheat Cooking Made Easy"
The author's husband came across a great deal on the price of wheat, so bought an enormous quantity of it. (If I remember right, it was something like 10,000 pounds) He got it home and realized he had no place to store it, so built a storage shed for it. When his wife saw the wheat, it really hit home to her how much wheat that was, so she decided she needed to learn how to use it. She began learning, and learned to become a great "wheat cook", so wrote this cook book.
While I was searching online, I also came across products to help in baking with wheat. I bought some "gluten powder", and "dough enhancer" to use when making bread. You don't have to have these, but they really do help the texture of the bread. I also learned that if you had some cracked wheat to the dough, it really adds more interest to the bread.
I'm really not an expert bread maker like Fromagette, but I do occasionally get lucky and make a great loaf of bread. I made some for the fair today, but made a couple of mistakes. First, I forgot to add the gluten powder and dough enhancer. That wasn't too tragic, but it would have helped. I think one mistake I made was letting the bread rise too much. Then when I put it in the oven, it sank a little. I should have punched it down and let it rise again before baking. The next problem is that my oven cooks too hot, and I overcooked it a tad. I was a little too brown on top. Still, people ate it and seemed to enjoy it.
Years ago someone gave me a bread machine. I have to say that I hate it. It makes too thick of a crust on the bread. I prefer to knead by hand, and cook it in the oven. That may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn't bother me. I just want to encourage you to try making bread if you never have before. I think it's healthier than store bought, and much, much cheaper.