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Mail Call: Homemade Wheat Bread

Check out letters from our readers about firewood cutting tips, a wonderful whole wheat bread recipe, switchel recipes, and more.

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Bill Laut

Homemade Wheat Bread

In the May/June 2021 issue, you featured an article by Maggie Bullington titled “Growing Wheat in Our Garden.” As an enthusiastic miller of wheat and grain, the thought occurred to me that fellow Grit readers may be inspired to try baking a loaf of bread from their own homegrown wheat. For those without prior experience, I’d like to share a recipe to help shorten the learning curve, since home-milled flour is a different animal from store-bought refined white flour.

This recipe uses hard red winter wheat. It requires a kitchen scale to measure the wheat berries and water by weight. Measuring by weight is important, because the volume of milled flour will be greater than the volume of berries. Also, I’ve never tried substituting store-bought “whole-wheat” flour, because if the package doesn’t say “100 percent whole wheat,” the germ and bran may have been removed, and the flour probably won’t work in this recipe as written. The ingredients are divided into dry and wet parts, and the recipe yields one loaf.

Dry ingredients

  • 600 grams hard red winter wheat berries
  • Granulated sugar, to taste (up to 15 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons table salt

Wet ingredients

  • 480 grams water
  • 2 teaspoons table sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Mill wheat berries into flour. In a large bowl, combine flour with sugar and salt from the “Dry Ingredients” list, and mix thoroughly. Set flour mixture aside.
  2. Heat water to 105 F. In a small bowl, combine heated water with sugar and yeast from the “Wet Ingredients” list, and stir well to dissolve. Set yeast mixture aside for up to 10 minutes to proof. When proofed, add olive oil, and mix to combine.
  3. Add proofed yeast to flour mixture. Using a sturdy tablespoon, mix until flour is wet and incorporated into the dough. (Don’t use a stand mixer; 100 percent whole-wheat flour is significantly denser and heavier than refined white flour, and can potentially ruin a mixer.) When mixed, cover with a wet towel, and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Uncover dough after 1 hour. (This is when the magic happens. You’ll be able to see how the gluten developed, and that the bran has significantly softened.) Wet a work surface. Scrape dough onto the wetted work surface, and knead for about 1 minute, lightly wetting your hands as needed to keep dough from sticking. Shape dough into a rectangle, and then roll into a cylinder shape. Grease a 9-by-5-inch bread pan, and place dough inside.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F. While oven is heating, set bread pan aside to let dough rise a second time. (The second rise should take about 30 minutes, but keep an eye on the dough so it doesn’t over-proof.)
  6. When dough has risen to the top edge of the pan, place the pan into the heated oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from oven and turn out bread. Allow bread to cool before slicing.

This bread is great with butter or jam. It’s a favorite of mine, because the hearty and nutritious flavor never fails to conjure visions of being in a farm kitchen, baking bread in a woodstove.

Enjoy!
Bill Laut
Muskegon, Michigan


Old Recipe and New Ways to Connect

The very day we received the July/August 2021 issue of Grit, I tried the recipe for switchel (“Switch to Switchel”). I happened to have all the ingredients, and both my husband and I drank it right down!

For years, I’d heard my mom talk about the “ginger ale” they made and drank when the threshing crew was harvesting in North Dakota during the dust bowl years in the ’30s. Although she didn’t know it as “switzel” or “switchel,” what goes around comes around. There’s nothing new under the sun. Thanks for reviving memories and a “new” old recipe to try.

Also, there are still some of us out here who don’t have computers, and don’t text or use Facebook. It would be nice if, in addition to a website, you could include an address or phone number. Some of us still write letters and call people.
Patt Makela
Finlayson, Minnesota

Patt, we’re so glad you enjoyed the switchel recipe, and that it brought back old memories. We also want to thank you for the note about addresses and phone numbers. Going forward, we’re going to include additional contact information whenever possible. Thank you for bringing the issue to our attention! – Grit Editors


A Fan of Firewood

I enjoyed the article about burning firewood very much (“Weathering Woodstove Woes,” November/December 2020). I live in Rhode Island, and I burn firewood in my family room 24/7. I purchase my firewood in both big and small sizes. My wood isn’t fully seasoned, so I have to run a hot fire. I get pallets from a hardware store for free – all hardwood. When you get this note, I’ll be 78 years young. Cutting firewood keeps me young.
Wayne Houston
Narragansett, Rhode Island


Toad Abodes Abound

Readers, in the May/June 2021 Gazette (“Ode to the Frog and Toad”), we asked to see photos of your toad houses. In typical Grit fashion, you came through and shared some delightful snapshots. Thank you for showing us your beautiful toad abodes! – Grit Editors


Looking for:

Canned Pecan Recipe
Years ago, I canned pecans, but I’ve lost the recipe. If someone has a recipe, I would appreciate it so much if they would share it with me. I would use it and pass it down with my treasured recipes to my family. I’m almost 85, but I still enjoy cooking and canning.
Mrs. Frankie Watson
PO Box 375
Ware Shoals, SC 29692

Pen Pals
I’ve lived off-grid a few times. I like to go for long walks, play my guitars, and read. I’ve helped others renovate all parts of their homes. I’m looking for pen pals from everywhere.
Mort Frank
1808 W. Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60613

Updated on Aug 14, 2021  |  Originally Published on Aug 9, 2021

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