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I am planning on asking my parents to get me a wheat cookbook for Christmas, unless I just get it sooner, but I was wondering what other ingredients I need to stock up on to make bread from freshly ground wheat berries. I plan to get a mill sometime soon as well.
 

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Opinionated old Vet.
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You will need a Cook book first there a way tooooo many recipes for different types of bread.

You will need Flour, salt, sugar, shortening of some sort (butter, oil etc.) and water or milk most of oil yeast or some sort of leaven to make the bread rise. Thats for a basic recipe.

Bread is wonderfull to make and enjoy. I've made plenty of bread in my time. Use a bread machine to make the bread in small batches when you start, they will make a loaf about 1.5 Lbs. that if you screw up you will not waste a lot of ingredients.
 

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You will also need some Vital Wheat Gluten. The Gluten will aid in stretching the bread so you don't end up with a dense loaf. A good dough conditioner comes in handy also but you can get by without it.
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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Bread can be as simple or complicated as you want. From the simplest of flat breads, to long rising sour dough affairs. The basic ingredients are wheat, salt, yeast (or sourdough) and oil of some type. The more advanced recipes will call for eggs, milk, etc. I rarely make any bread that calls for them, but when I do, I use powdered and it works fine.

There are also breads that are leavened with baking powder. You can store the ingredients for baking powder (cream of tarter, baking soda and corn starch) seperate and mix them only when needed. This will store for many years longer than premixed baking powder would store.

If you get a recipe book, try to find one that has some instructions for making your own sourdough culture. You can keep this alive indefinately.

I'll second the recommendation for gluten and dough conditioner. This makes it a lot easier to get a really good loaf. It's really handy while you're learning too. With practice and skill, you'll be able to make better bread later on. I still cheat and use both most of the time! :D:
 

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That's "Ma'am" to you
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Bread is one of the easiest things in the world to make. Very simple ingredients easily switched around. Flour, liquid, sweet stuff, oil/fat, leavening agent. I don't use anything else but I like a nice solid loaf. I like using oatmeal to replace some of the flour and honey instead of sugar (adjust the liquid a little down) I've even used orange juice for the liquid.
 

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just don't murder the yeast with the hot water.. if its too hot the bread will be harder than a brick. You want it warm, I really like making homemade bread from scratch..bread maker breads are not real bread. However, its the only kind i allow my spouse to make :)
 

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I was going to ask about this as well. All the recipies I found called for yeast, but yeast does not store well long term. If you skip the yeast, I assume you just get a thick, flat loaf? Does it change the taste at all?

Can someone post a really simple recipe please?
 

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Accuracy is Final
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I was going to ask about this as well. All the recipies I found called for yeast, but yeast does not store well long term. If you skip the yeast, I assume you just get a thick, flat loaf? Does it change the taste at all?

Can someone post a really simple recipe please?
Makes 3 loaves of basic wheat bread

6 to 61/2 cups wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar or 1/4 cup of honey
2 pkgs. of yeast or ( I use 2 tsps. of yeast bought in bulk)
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups water 80-90 degrees

In large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, salt and
water. beat 2 minutes at medium speed ofelectric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.
Add 1/2 cup flour; beat 2
minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.

With spoon, stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on
lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

To bake immediately: Place kneaded dough in greased bowl, turning to
grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in
size, about 30 to 60 minutes. Rapid-Rise Yeast users will have a shorter
rising time.

After dough has risen, separate dough into three equal size portions. Take
one portion and form it into a loaf for bread, cover with a towel and let
rise again. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Do not preheat, bake from cold oven.
 

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The best wheat cookbook I have ever seen is one that was published in the 70's. It is called The Magic of Wheat Cookery and I bought 6 copies on ebay several years ago. It has recipes for every category of food including a meatless meal section using wheat instead of meat.
My basic wheat bread recipe is used for doughnuts, bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, hoagie rolls and more. The ingredients are water, oil, honey, vitamin C (or a tiny bit of lemon juice), yeast, salt, and whole wheat berries ground into flour. That's all.
Hope this helps.
 

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just don't murder the yeast with the hot water.. if its too hot the bread will be harder than a brick. You want it warm, I really like making homemade bread from scratch..bread maker breads are not real bread. However, its the only kind i allow my spouse to make :)
The best way to test if the water is too hot or not hot enough to activate the yeast, is to run the water over the inside of your wrist. The right temperature will not burn, but you will feel the warmth of it. Also, yeast stored in a vacuum sealed package will last years, once you open it, you need to store in either the fridge or other cool place. Or just use it up quickly. I buy a 3lb package at Costco for about $4 and depending on how often I bake, it lasts about 3 months.
 

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I was going to ask about this as well. All the recipies I found called for yeast, but yeast does not store well long term. If you skip the yeast, I assume you just get a thick, flat loaf? Does it change the taste at all?

Can someone post a really simple recipe please?
Frozen yeast can last a long, long time. You can also make a sourdough starter: Yeast, either store-bought or captured from the air, allowed to grow in a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 cup flour. Keep it in the refrigerator or somewhere cool, use part of it when making bread and replace what you take out with more flour and water; cared for correctly, such a starter can keep growing and living for years.



Army Hardtack Recipe
Ingredients:

4 cups flour (perferably whole wheat)
4 teaspoons salt
Water (about 2 cups)
Pre-heat oven to 375° F
Makes about 10 pieces

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add just enough water (less than two cups) so that the mixture will stick together, producing a dough that won’t stick to hands, rolling pin or pan. Mix the dough by hand. Roll the dough out, shaping it roughly into a rectangle. Cut into the dough into squares about 3 x 3 inches and ½ inch thick.

After cutting the squares, press a pattern of four rows of four holes into each square, using a nail or other such object. Do not punch through the dough. The appearance you want is similar to that of a modern saltine cracker. Turn each square over and do the same thing to the other side.

Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn each piece over and bake for another 30 minutes. The crackers should be slightly brown on both sides.

The fresh crackers are easily broken but as they dry, they harden and assume the consistentency of fired brick.

(If you want to completely dry them out fast, reduce the oven to 200 degrees and bake them, stirring occasionally, for 8 more hours.)
 

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Mom Walton
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I make enough dough to make 4 loaves, I divide it and make two regular loves. I use the rest of the dough to make other things.

sandwich/hamburger buns: One loaf worth I roll to about 1 inch thick and cut with a can that has been opened on both ends. These I let rise until almost double then bake for sandwich/hamburger buns. They are great for packing lunches because they hold together better. Sometimes I chop dried onions and knead into them before rolling out the dough.

Cinnamon buns: One loaf worth is often rolled out about 1/2 inch thick. Then I spread melted butter on it and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. I roll it from one side to the other into a log. I cut it with dental floss by sliding the floss about 3/4 of an inch from the end and then crossing the ends of the floss over and pulling. It will cut the dough into nice round slices that I lay on a lightly grease cookie sheet. Rise until almost double the bake at 350 until golden brown. You can drizzle with powdered sugar frosting. Occasionally, I like to add chopped pecans in with the sugar and cinnamon too before rolling.

The idea is... since you are in the kitchen and getting flour all over the place you might as well go crazy with it. :) It is easy to use the same dough to make all kinds of good things. You add sesame seeds, or sprouted wheat into your loaves, or roll raisins and cinnamon sugar for raisin bread.

We like what we call salami bread. You roll out a loaf of dough and layer on some brown hamburger or shredded jerky, shredded cheese, black olives, sauteed onion.. what ever sounds good to you. Then roll it up into an Italian loaf shape. Let it rise on a cookie sheet and then bake. Most of us like to dip it in mustard when eating it.

Bread dough is good deep fried too. You can wrap it around a chunk of cheese or some veggies and make "pockets." If the dough is sweetened with extra honey you can make doughnuts.

I have made all of these with fresh ground whole wheat. Get a good whole wheat recipe book and all those buckets of wheat will look a lot better to you.

With separate recipes you can make things like bagels or crackers. English muffins are fun. They are cooked in a skillet on the stove top, not in the oven.
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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I was going to ask about this as well. All the recipies I found called for yeast, but yeast does not store well long term. If you skip the yeast, I assume you just get a thick, flat loaf? Does it change the taste at all?

Can someone post a really simple recipe please?
If you get the vacuum packed bricks of commercial yeast, they have a lot longer storage life, and can be frozen almost indefinately. I keep a bunch frozen so I'll have a year or two worth when I need them. But you can also keep a yeast culture going sort of like how you would keep a sourdough culture going. This is probably how they did it in the old days.

Also, even when yeast is way past expiration, there are still some cells alive. If there are even a few live yeast cells left, you can proof this and turn it into a live culture again. You just can't use the dead yeast straight from the packet in your bread.

You can make unleavened bread, but it needs to be thin or you can't really chew it. You can always make a sourdough culture and keep it alive for leavening bread though.
 

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Mom Walton
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You do not need vital wheat gluten. I used it my first year, and found out later it is unnecessary.

Use a wheat naturally high in gluten, like red winter or golden 86.

If you want a lighter loaf, add around 1/2 to 2/3 of your flour to your liquids and yeast in the bowl. The measurement does not need to be exact. (This slurry is called a "sponge.") Let it rise until double.

Then add your remaining flour keeping back about 1/4 cup per loaf. It will "punch down" as you mix it in. You may not need the last bit of flour. Add what you need of the last of the flour to make the dough manageable, (not too sticky to knead, but sticky enough that you still have to occasionally flour your hands. If you are using a machine, the dough will just have begun to not stick to the bowel.) Knead it well. Pinch off a cherry to walnut size bit of dough, roll it into a ball and then pinching it between your finger is each hand and slowly pull it apart. You should be able to feel the dough stretch. If it doesn't feel elasticity and you can't stretch it 2 inches, then you need to knead it more.

Once it is good and springy, (it should still be barley sticky, so sprinkle flour on your counter and hands. The worse thing you can do is to add too much flour and have a dry loaf,) Oil the top of your dough and flip it over in your bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap or a towel to keep it warm and to keep it from drying out. Let it double the second time.

It is time to divide into loaf amounts and shape your loaves. Punch down first. Then divide it and shape for what you are making. You are going to let your loves rise until around double before baking. Cover them with a clean towel. Set them out of the way of any cool breezes. I set mine near my preheating oven. Because the dough already rose once as a sponge and again before you shaped it, it will rise quicker this last time.

Test it buy poking your finger tip into the edge of your risen loaf of dough. Not too deep, just the tip of your finger to almost your first knuckle. If the dough springs back to fill the indent, it should rise more. If it fills back about half the way, it is ready to bake. If it doesn't spring back at all, you have waited too long, so handle the loaves carefully as you put them in the oven, or they will fall. (If the dough is really gooshy you have waited way too long. Not all is lost. You will have take it out of the pans, punch it down and shape then again.)

The science behind the sponge stage:

Whole wheat flour is different than white flour. It takes a while to absorb all the moisture it is going to absorb. This is why making a sponge first and letting it rise until double helps you have a moister and lighter loaf. If you don't make the sponge you will end up adding too much flour to get to the point of where the dough is not too sticky to knead. Then while your loaves are rising, the wheat will still be absorbing the moisture and your loaves will be dry. They will also be heavier because you have added more flour than necessary to get the same sized loaf.

Why you knead the dough:

The fibers of the dough are microscopically shaped like long grains of rice. As you knead the dough, the fibers get aligned and are matted together in such a way that they form tight springy pockets that trap the gas that the yeast makes as it multiplies. This gives you lots of the little bubbles in your bread, making it light, fluffy, and just the right tender but not crumbly texture. If you don't knead your dough to springy stage, your bread will be heavy and crumbly.


Letting the dough rise:
By the time you have baked your bread it has rose once as a sponge, once as a mass, and once as loaves in the pan. It will rise a little more in the oven. This improves the weight, texture, and flavor. Overall, it doesn't take that much longer to rise, because the yeast multiplied in the sponge stage, giving you a quicker rise in the mass and loaves risings. Letting it rise to just the right amount as loaves get your tapped bubbles to the right size for a light loaf, but not so big that you end up with big holes that cause you bread to fall apart when sliced.

Between each rising you have also "punched it down." This is so all your bubbles are the same size and you get a nice even texture. Take the small amount of effort and time to "punch it down" well.

When is it done baking?:

Place your loaves as close to the center of the oven as you can vertically, leaving enough space between them horizontally so they don't touch as they rise that little last bit. A light fluffy one pound loaf only takes 20 to 25 minutes to bake. (If you are use to baking a poor quality loaf, that is much sorter than you are use to baking it.) You can if it is done by lightly thumping/tapping on the top with your finger. It should have a hollow quality in sound. If the bread pan was lightly greased, the loaf should come out when the pan is tipped over and tapped on the bottom. If it doesn't come out bake it another 5 minutes.

Let it cool on a rack or the your stove burners so the bottom doesn't sweat. If you like a soft buttery crust you can rub it with butter before it cools completely. For a shiny crust, brush the top with room temperature egg white during the last few minutes of baking.

When you are first switching to wheat bread, you can get your family use to it by using white flour for half the flour. This makes a lighter loaf and gives you time to learn the skills. Then slowly trend towards less and less white flour and more wheat flour.
 

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Shuriken snowflake
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I wonder something though. I actually learned to bake in school and we did it like this. When ingredients are mixed, work the dough in the bowl with a big wooden spoon, easiest is to sit on a chair and put the bowl in your lap. Beat it towards you (With the convex side of the spoon towards you) without too much flour, until it's getting long strings formed by gluten (Most gluten in wheat, less in rye and even less in barley, so it might be a good idea to add some wheat to breads with other grains). Let the dough sit under a towel or newspaper until it is twice the size.

If it is a bread that needs kneading, tip it out on a floured board or clean table, don't add too much flour, just enough to keep it from sticking. You actually usually don't need to beat your bread to death kneading it. If it is a bread with a lot of gluten and you are in a geographic area good for baking (altitude is a bummer), you can skip the kneading.

Form your breads. Buns, flat loaves, mini flat loaves and baguettes are easier for the beginner and also if you have a lousy oven because they will bake through easily while a loaf might be trickier. Cover again and let rise. Remember doors and windows closed, draft is not good for this. Then into the oven.

What is different when I've seen some people baking is some knead the dough before first rise. How is this better? Since I keep my dough not especially dry at this stage because it is easier to get good gluten that way, it is impossible to knead.

So... sorry about the long text, my question to those who bake is, when in the process do you knead?
 
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