Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bread Kits: Part One - Ingredients You'll Need

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It seems we are all looking for ways to bring better nutrition to our families, cook more at home, and generally to be more self-sufficient these days. You can begin to introduce a healthier lifestyle by making your own bread, and with a little planning, it can fit into the schedule of the busiest mom.

One of the first transitions I have made in bringing our family to a healthier lifestyle has been making homemade, whole wheat bread from freshly milled grain.  I’ll admit that I am not always successful in keeping it in the house (because it gets eaten more quickly than store-bought bread), but I have found a way that makes it much easier to accomplish: pre-assembled “Bread Kits” with all the dry ingredients already measured and labeled with instructions, and over the next couple of days I will be sharing here how you can prepare these kits too.

For me, the most time consuming part of making homemade bread from freshly milled grain is grinding the grain! Whole wheat flour oxidizes easily, so it should be used or frozen immediately to maintain its nutrient content and to prevent rancidity. Since I don’t have time to mill flour on a daily or weekly basis, I try to take care of our flour needs for at least a month in one session.  However, if you do not have the equipment or time to mill your own grain, purchase the freshest whole grain wheat flour you can find, and sift it before measuring the quantities listed for the kits. Five pounds of flour will make about 2 kits.

These recipes are written specifically for whole wheat flour. You might not have the same success if you use white or bread flour, but the same concept could be applied to assembling similar kits for other recipes. Please bear in mind, however, that homemade whole wheat bread is similar in texture and taste to white store-bought bread, yet it is exponentially healthier. My family absolutely refuses to eat store-bought whole wheat bread, but I can hardly keep homemade whole wheat bread in the house.  So, if you are unsure about whether your family can (or will) make a transition, give it a try to see what response you get.

There are two ways to prepare these kits, depending on whether or not you desire to soak your flour prior to use or not. Making homemade bread from unsoaked flour is a much faster process, and if you are trying to eat healthier and time is an issue, any whole grain bread you make at home will be nutritionally superior to store-bought bread (plus, there are no preservatives!).

Although making homemade bread will require a little planning ahead and a small commitment of time, I believe you will find the investment of time will be richly rewarding. As a result, I will give you instructions for creating kits for both unsoaked and soaked flour loaves, as well as baking instructions for your first loaves!

I am going to take a break here for you to be able to assemble the ingredients that you will need to make your kits; in addition, this post is getting a little long and I know you don’t have all day to spend reading my blog. [Thank you for being here, by the way!] Here are the ingredients you need (for the ingredients that you may not be familiar with and are not sure where to find these in your local area, please click the links below):
  • Gallon, quart and snack-sized zip-close bags
  • Whole wheat flour, freshly milled if possible, but as fresh as you can reasonably acquire
  • SAF or instant yeast; you will do better purchasing a jar of yeast rather than trying to use the packets
  • Granular sea salt (or regular table salt if you can’t find a good sea salt)
Whole Grain Whole Wheat Flour  Instant Yeast (LeSaffre) 1lb (16oz)  Hain Pure Foods Iodized Sea Salt 26 oz (737 g)  WHEAT BERRIES, SOFT WHITE, 25 lb Bag  KTEC Kitchen Mill - Grain and Flour Mill (K-Tec)  Also available from The Urban Homemaker
Optional ingredients:
  • These ingredients are not required but contribute to a fluffier, softer loaf.
  • Vital Wheat Gluten 
  • Dough Enhancer
Vital Wheat Gluten - 3.5 Pound Can  Kitchen Resource Dough Enhancer Also available from The Urban Homemaker
Ingredients you’ll need later, to bake bread from your kits:
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Warm water

That’s it! We’ll start assembling our bread kits with tomorrow’s post.

There is joy on this journey, on my way home to my Father’s house,
Cindy <><

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