Adventures in Bread Baking

I’ve officially gone down the rabbit hole. A few weeks ago, I decided to buy a Mockmill grain mill and start playing with grinding my own flour. Why? Why not? Too much time on my hands maybe? I kept hearing about how wonderful the flavor of home milled flour is. Not to mention cornmeal and polenta! So I took the plunge.

Then I had to find wheat berries. And dent corn. Not an easy task. I haven’t ventured into the city yet, but a trip to every local grocery store yielded only Hard Winter Red berries. Not what I had in mind for my experiments. Where were the ancient grains? The Kamut®, Emmer, and Einkorn? I found most of what I needed on a wonderful website, Breadtopia. Good prices too, although you do have to pay for shipping. But that website was also responsible for my rabbit hole. So much fantastic information! So many great instructional videos! So many recipes and techniques to try! And a forum full of experts willing to answer my novice baker questions.

I decided to start with this recipe. Well, not so much a recipe, but a technique. I used a blend of 50% hard white winter wheat berries, 25% Kamut® berries, and 25% Emmer berries. Per Eric’s suggestions, I spiked the mix with 1/8 teaspoon of SAF Instant Yeast, and I sifted my milled flour through my fine mesh sifter, which I think is about a 30 mesh. Might try to buy a 50 mesh for getting an even finer sift. I baked the loaf in an oblong bread baker.

I ended up adding a bit too much flour, so my hydration was a bit off, but the resulting bread had a nice oven spring, and was really tasty, if a bit dense. Not bad at all for a first attempt, I thought! I wanted to give it another try though, so I mixed up another batch and decided to try baking in my dutch oven, since I was also making a loaf of Kamut® bread that I wanted to bake in my cloche. However, I sort of messed that one up, and while it tasted great and had a nice crumb, it was a bit flat.

As I mentioned, I tried a Kamut® bread as well, using this recipe. I used the 40% Kamut® / 60% all-purpose flour blend. Got a fantastic rise, and tasted great. I am really enjoying the flavors of the different wheat berries, and the Kamut® is right up there. I’m interested in trying a higher percentage of Kamut® in this recipe, or maybe Kamut® and hard winter white, sifted. So many combinations to try! Tomorrow I’m trying a 100% Emmer bread.

Here’s the recipe for the Whole Grain bread. I’ll be following up with recipes for other experiments!

Whole Grain Sourdough Bread

Prep Time1 hr
Proofing Time9 hrs
Total Time10 hrs
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bread, Emmer, Grain Mill, Home Milling, Kamut, Khorsan, Sourdough, Sourdough Starter, Wheat Berries
Servings: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ – 2 cups Water
  • ¼ – ½ cup Sourdough Starter
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • 450-530 grams Flour for this bread I used 50% Hard White Winter Berries, 25% Emmer Wheat Berries, and 25% Kamut® Wheat Berries

Instructions

  • Start this bread in the morning (about 1 hour mixing and kneading), then do the final proof and bake in evening when you get home from work.
  • Start by adding 1 ½ – 2 cups water to a bowl (2 cups for a larger loaf). Add ¼ cup of starter if it's a warm day, or more if it's cool. Mix together.
  • Stir in some of the flour and mix together. Add 1 ½ tsp salt. Continue adding more of the flour to stiffen up.
  • When it gets fairly stiff, but still stirs with a whisk, cover for 10 minutes. Then add rest of flour. Continue to mix with your hands once it gets too stiff for whisk. The dough will be pretty sticky. Wet your hands a little bit to help with the sticking. Do a series of stretch and folds: stretch and fold the dough from the outside of the bowl into the middle for 10-15 seconds, then cover and rest for 10 minutes. Repeat a couple of times.
  • Cover with plastic, then come back to it later in the evening.
  • Place cloche in oven and heat to 500°F. (refer to your cloche's directions to make sure it will withstand high heat)
  • Prepare a lined proofing basket. Sprinkle some bran on bottom, then flour on edges and bottom to prevent sticking, as the dough will be a little wet.
  • Flour a work surface and lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto the work surface. Shape into an oblong ball, somewhat gently so it doesn't degas too much. Fold in thirds, then roll away from you. Place seam side up in basket, then sprinkle a little flour around edges. Cover with plastic and let proof for an hour to an hour and a quarter.
  • When the dough is done proofing, carefully roll out of the proofing basket into the cloche. Using a bread lame or razor blade, make a cut along the top of the bread.
  • Bake for 15 minutes with the cover on, then remove the cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches between 200°F and 210°F. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

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