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Discover the satisfaction of making your own bread from scratch and delight in its aroma and flavor. Two Mennonite sisters, whose family operated a stone mill for two generations, offer 180 recipes that use a variety of grains, including wheat, corn, rye and buckwheat.
Table of Contents
Excerpt from Chapter on Wheat
Most of the flout available in supermarkets is ground with hammer or roller mills. It is refined to remove the germ (which becomes rancid quickly" but is the source of important nutrients and natural oils) and the bran (which is coarse but an important source of fiber). This flour is sifted several times to give a very uniform and fine texture. The flour may then be further "whitened" by aging it or by adding bleaching agents such as potassium bromate. Finally the flour is enriched which involves replacing some nutrients that had been removed in the refining process.
"All-purpose" flour the most common and available flour in supermarkets today is the attempt to create a flour that can be used for all needs. Instead of every kitchen having a pastry flour a bread flour and a cake flour each in different containers "All-purpose" flour is intended to cover all the needs and take up only one container! It may be handy but it signals that most of us have lost the knowledge of how flours differ and their various places in baking.
Bread flour is always a hard wheat usually a hard spring wheat. It requires a high protein content - 13-14 percent by weight. This essential protein is gluten. When fully developed by kneading this gluten forms an elastic structure that captures the gas bubbles produced by the yeast resulting in light airy bread. Other flours can be used in bread baking; however without the protein gluten content the bread will not rise well.
Cake flour made of soft wheat is a low protein flour - 8-10 percent by weight. It is refined to be quite smooth almost powdery.
Pastry flour is also a low protein flour made of soft wheat. It is not as refined as cake flour.
While the type of wheat as much to do with the resulting flour it is not the only factor. I find that stone-ground flours vary from one grinding to the next due to the wheat the way it's ground and the moisture. Also the quality of the item baked depends on the weather conditions while I'm working. Warm humid weather helps bread dough rise. But pastry is easier to work on cooler days.
To preserve its quality stone-ground wheat flour should be stored in a cool dry place. It can be refrigerated or kept in a freezer. Since the flour does not freeze into a solid clump whole wheat flour is easy to use directly from the freezer. Just dip out the flour you need. (Warm it to room temperature when you want to use it in yeast batters.)
JASON'S WHOLE WHEAT BREAD At 10 years of age Jason, our nephew, began to bake bread. Since he has lived all his life next door to the old mill, it is not surprising that he chose to start with Whole Wheat Bread. He first went to the mill got fresh ground wheat flour " and then made the bread for his brother's birthday dinner. What a wonderful gift of love and life!
Baking bread is creating a product recognized by virtually every culture as a symbol of home nourishment and loving care.