Thursday, May 22, 2008

Help with Whole Grains

My last whole grain bread attempt was a bomb. Make that a brick. Not a total dud: flavor adequate, suffiently edible when toasted to serve as a platform for PB or hummus... but far from my best effort. Hubby thought it was fine, but then he is way, way, way out on the woo-woo end of the food spectrum, and admits that he likes "dense" bread.

Well, dense is okay, I don't mind dense. But if dropping the loaf on your foot would mean hobbling around on crutches for a month I think maybe the recipe (or, more likely) technique, could be improved upon. I do know what the problem was: I used too much of a new 9-grain cereal, and too much water, which resulted in a quantity that was a bit much for the Kitchenaid to handle, so I tried to knead the sticky mess by hand, and ended up adding too much flour just to get the goop into some kind of shape to put into a pan.

Oh well. Smaller loaves will rule from now on. I love home-made bread, don't mind kneading by hand, but hate, hate, hate having to clean up the mess it makes on the counter. Stand mixer with dough hook is the way to go, if you ask me.

In spite of my strong "figure it out for myself by trial and error" streak, I do from time to time wake up and realize I need help. So I googled "whole grain bread tip" and after a few minutes surfing and a few more browsing found exactly what I need:

1) "Whole Grain Baking" from the fine folks at the King Arthur flour company and

2) "Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads" (he's the author of the very fine "The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which would be perfect if only it addressed how to make all those lovely loaves with whole grains: thanks, Peter, for taking care of that!)

A second quick online search of the Hawaii State Library catalog revealed that the first title was sitting right there on the shelf at the Hilo Public Library (one of my very favorite places!), so I hopped in the car and added a stop at the library to my errands.

So far all I've had time to do is browse through it, and I want to bake EVERYTHING. Which will take far longer than the three week loan period -- it's a FAT book -- even if I renew as often as allowed.

So I did the only sensible thing and hopped back to Amazon and ordered a copy of my own. Plus the Reinhart book. Plus "Whole Grains Every Day Every Way" by Lorna Sass. I have a vegan cookbook by Lorna that's full of wonderful recipes (I'm not vegan, but enjoy vegan dishes/meals from time to time), so I'm very interested to see what she does in the grains department.

How Amazon can stay in business offering me free shipping on these books (Whole Grain Baking weighs about five pounds, and the others are probably not much smaller) I don't know. It means a few more days of breathless anticipation, but I've got plenty of stuff on my to-do list to keep me occupied until the books arrive. Until then, I'll be eating what's left of the brick.

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