Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Itchy feet

I started my first seeds last week. Broccoli and Cabbage are cold weather plants so I'll set them out once they're ready. The other was the seeds from an heirloom bell pepper. I "harvested" the only fruit in November (I'd been covering it every night) and ripened it on the windowsill. I'm not sure if there are any viable seeds, so I planted some of those just to see if they germinate.

I pushed a shovel down in the dirt. The boxes are thawed inside the covers (lettuce is re-sprouting) but everything else is still frozen once you get about a foot away from the walls and fences.

You can see me pouting.

I want spring to come! Right now!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Whole wheat bread

We're trying to be healthy, so for the last few months I've been trying to make whole wheat bread.

Last year we harvested a test plot of hard red wheat (this year we're going to try kamut as well as oats) and got about a half gallon of wheat. When ground, two cups of wheat makes about 2 1/3 cups of flour.

Whole wheat bread is a little trickier than white bread, because white bread flour often has additives and extra gluten and such nonsense. So making a good loaf of bread from a white bread recipe is pretty much a no-brainer. Apparently I thought I wasn't being challenged enough.

My first attempt was a disaster, the loaf dry and small, with little visible rising. Adding additional yeast didn't make much difference.

The second attempt (after doing some research on the internet) was half whole wheat (half hard red, half kamut) rather than all whole wheat. I used it to make rolls for Thanksgiving, and while they weren't as puffy as I would have liked they were OK.

Then I tried half and half kamut and wheat, the other half white flour, and found an interesting trick on the internet.

The night before I bake, I mix all the liquid and half the flour (the wheat half) + half the sugar with a 1/2 t of yeast. I mix all that together and leave it in the refrigerator over night. If I'm making whole wheat bread I mix the rest of the flour with additional water and let that sit as well. If I'm just using white flour for the other half, the rest of the ingredients can be mixed in just before the first rise. Basically the wheat needs time to hydrate and the bran needs time to break down so it won't destroy what gluten there is. In the morning I add the recipe equivalent of 1/4 to 1/3 of the required water (so if the recipe calls for 2 cups of water I'll add 1/2 cup additional water, or a little more) and the remaining ingredients.

Everything else follows the recipe.

2 T yeast + 1/2 t yeast (yeast can be mixed in dry)
2 c water + 1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar (can replace with honey)
1/4 c shortening
1 egg
2 t salt
6 1/2 c flour

Mix 1/2 t yeast, 3 1/2 c flour, 2 c water, 1/4 c sugar, let sit overnight
Add remaining yeast, remaining water, remaining sugar, shortening, egg and salt. Mix in remaining flour as usual. Let rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours), then beat down, divide and let rise again. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Made four loaves this morning, and the only difference between wheat and white is the flavor and the color. :)