All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Everyday Bread #45 - Beards Cracked Wheat Bread

James Beard's Cracked Wheat Bread

Today is one of those rare days when my wife gets up before I do.  I was awake very late last night, so that I would be tired enough to sleep during daylight hours today in preparation for working nights over the next two weeks.

Before I fell asleep last night, I baked some bread.

So when I got up this morning, later than usual, I discovered that my wife had carved into one of the loaves I made.  As usual, she had carved it crooked.  I grabbed my camera to get a photo of the crumb.

"I already got a picture," she said.  "Very artful, too."

"How was the bread?" I asked her.  It is unusual for her to eat bread for breakfast.  Usually she will have other things, and not have any bread until lunch.

"It was good!" she enthused.  "I could taste my jam on it…"

She looked at my face.  I was still waking up.  Was I frowning?

"It's not whole wheat, is it?" she asked, already perhaps a bit disappointed, perhaps thinking that I probably would never make this bread ever again.

I shook my head.  "It has some whole wheat,"  I told her, shrugging.  "And some cracked wheat."

Lately I've been using a lot of cracked wheat on the crusts of my breads, and enjoying the nutty flavour of the wheat that way.  It is far tastier than bran, or flour alone, on the crust of an artisan loaf, I find.  The enjoyable taste has made me curious about cracked wheat.

That is why this recipe jumped out at me.

I was browsing through my latest bread book, a copy of the classic 'Beard on Bread' that I found in a Stratford Used Book Shop while on a cheese run (an exploratory trip).  Beard has this Cracked Wheat Bread  in his "Whole Meal Breads" section.

He boils his cracked wheat.  And yet he says that the bread has a 'crunchy' texture.  That made me want to try this recipe.  How does cracked wheat stay crunchy even when it is boiled and absorbs water?

Beard's recipes are not based on weight but on measures.  He keeps them very simple.   This one is to be made into two loaves, baked in pans.

The pictures tell the story.

Mise en place.

The cracked wheat is added to boiling water

3-5 min: It boils down
9-10 min: It absorbs water but remains crunchy.  Like a porridge, but a different texture.
I made a mistake here: Beard says you are to proof the yeast in a large bowl.  
My water barely 100 degrees.
The proofing stage is often omitted in more recent recipes using Dried Instant Yeast.
Beard used a different kind of yeast, I'm pretty sure.  5 min. in, and this yeast is barely awake.
I transfer it to a bowl, which may have interfered with the frothiness that was just barely starting.
I add the ingredients to the cracked wheat.  

This has to be an enriched loaf.  I wish I had measured the weights of things. 
(Reinhard says that a loaf is enriched if it has < 20% fat, but is rich if it has >20% fat)

Stirred together, this takes on an interesting colour and texture.
Now the cracked wheat mixture is added to the proofed yeast.
I made another mistake here: I added the salt to the flour mixture, not the liquid I'm pouring in.
This mistake may have been fortuitous: the yeast had no inhibition, as you will see.

The consistency before any flour is used.
I've pre-mixed the flours together and whisked them.  Now the flour is added 1 cup at a time: first cup

Second cup of flour

Third cup of flour

Fourth cup of flour

Fifth cup of flour.  
Not much left now in the flour bowl.  And it is more difficult to incorporate by spoon.

When it reaches this stage, I turn it out of the bowl onto the rest of the flour and knead it all in.

This is a fairly wet dough, but not overly so.  It is mostly tacky.  I kept some cold water nearby to keep my hands from sticking as I kneaded.

Beard wants a 12 minute kneading, but I only managed about 6 minutes.  

I let the dough rest.

Then I folded it with the cutter and put it in the oiled bowl.

I made another mistake here: I didn't roll the dough in the bowl to get oil the top of the loaf, as the directions tell you to.

I left it an hour and a half, but I could tell something was happening under that tea towel.


Beard wants me to punch this down.  
Just turning it out and cutting it and folding it degassed it somewhat.

I just folded the dough a couple of times, stretching it, then put it in the pan.

Thirty minutes later the dough had plumped up again.
At this stage, I preheated the oven.

Scored lightly longitudinally and baked.

I couldn't get the loaves out of the pan, fresh from the oven.  I waited 5 minutes for the steam to free the loaf (a trick I learned while perusing some other bread blogs, I think this one came from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day people).  Then I was able to shake it out.  But I felt the bottom was a bit mushy, and wouldn't hold the weight of the bread.  So I inverted the loaf and put it back into the cooling oven.  This was a mistake, because the loaves picked up the indentation of the oven grate on the top.  If I had used a baking stone, I would have put it on that, right-side-up, and all would have been well.  But I didn't have a baking stone for this loaf bake, I didn't think I needed it.  Live and learn.

Creased Loaves

A rainy day, perfect for sleeping.  And there is bread on the table.

Notes to Myself:
  • Bake with a stone even if you don't think you will use it.  You could have used it here to firm up the overly moist bottom of these loaves.  Putting them on a rack when they are this fresh and moist will cause them to get creases in them, or sag, or both.
  • If the recipe doesn't have weights, weigh your ingredients.
  • If the wife prefers these kinds of loaves, who are you to deprive her?  Make these for her, and make bread for yourself.
  • Can these be made with a higher quantity of whole wheat?
  • You did right to add the salt to the flour here, I think, and not to the wet mix as Beard suggests.
  • You did right to not punch down the dough here, I think.  Better to fold the dough, as you did.

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