Monday, August 27, 2007

Whole wheat sandwich bread ABM (foldable bread!)

OOPS, This is NOT about pesticides organic or otherwise. I'll get to that post at a later date. lol
Instead I'm going to address a food storage problem and a solution I found that works for my family.

One of the problems with having food storage is eating what you've stored. There are two factors in play. One is that it does take longer to fix these foods. Longer than take-out or nuke and eat from the store. The other is that the textures aren't always what we're use to.
At the forefront of complaints is whole wheat bread. It tends to fall apart crumb by crumb and it can't be slice it too thinly. So you've got a crumbly, too thick sandwich and yuck, no one wants to eat it.

I've been trying to eat a more healthy diet and have started using the wheat in my food storage supply. After two weeks of homemade bread, with week one being made with white flour, we needed some bread - fast. So I went to the store and bought the same bread I've been buying for the last 12 years. (12 years being the length of time we've lived in Blue Ridge.) We opened it up and tried some. "YUCK" was the pronouncement from my 18 dd and 15 ds. They have decided that they no longer want store bread! (mom does happy dance) One of the things that converted them was that I've found a way of making whole wheat bread that is "foldable". Like regular sandwich bread that will fold and not break or crumble up. I thought that there might be some others that would like this recipe or like to try and wean their family from the store bought white bread monster.

So here is the recipe I used for the white bread and then the recipe for the whole wheat.
I've given some tips on how to make these recipes by hand - for those that don't have/don't use a bread machine, as well as some of my other "short cuts".
Oh, by the way, these each make a 1 1/2lb loaf.

This is a recipe I adapted from a basic Amish white bread recipe.
Basic White Bread (ABM)
1 cup tepid water
2 Tbs oil (I use olive oil)
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar (or honey, molasses or other sweetener)
2 Tbs Vital Gluten
3 Cups flour (regular flour. If you have bread flour, you can skip the vital gluten)
1 1/2 tsp yeast
Place in pan, in order listed. I use regular setting, light crust on my machine. Start machine and let it run for a couple of minutes to blend ingredients. Then check and make sure dough is not too wet/dry. (too wet is when you've got a puddle of dough at the bottom of the spindle. Too dry is when the bread sits on top of the spindle and spins, but doesn't move on the spindle. It should move up and down and change shape while spinning with the spindle. Also, if it's not "tacky" to the touch, it's too dry. Between the two extremes is a lot of leeway, so don't be afraid to adjust the recipe, so just add water by the tsp and flour by the tbs . Also, give it about 2 -3 mins after doing an addition to make sure what you just added is incorporated before you do anything else to it and you'll be ok.

Whole wheat sandwich bread (ABM)
1 1/4 cups water tepid water
2 Tbs olive oil (or any oil)
3 Tbs orange Blossom honey (or your favorite flavor)
2 Tbs lecithin (can omit. Get it at health food store. $8 for a huge bottle of powder helps it to rise better)
1 Tbs Vital wheat gluten (Necessary if you want a "foldable" bread, this is what makes the bread have the consistency of store bread and rise to normal heights)
2 Tbs powdered milk (opt)
1 tsp salt
3 cups whole wheat flour (I grind my own!)
1 1/2 tsp yeast (I keep mine in the freezer, along with any extra wheat)

Put into bread machine in order listed. Use whole wheat setting and I turn my crust color to "light". I start the machine and watch it to make sure I don't need to add a tsp more water or a Tbs more flour. Depending on your climate you may need to adjust the water/flour to make a proper loaf. It should ball up on the spindle, not be a wet mush on the bottom. It should be slightly "tacky" when you touch the loaf (yes, while it's spinning you can touch it and tell) and the dough should be moving around in relationship to the spindle (not just spinning on top of it). There's some room in between these two points, so don't worry if it's not exact. Don't be too quick to add water to whole wheat. It takes about 4 mins of kneading on my machine before I add flour or water. Mostly, I've needed to add flour, so I cut down on the water in the original recipe. It takes about 4-5 mins for the wheat to absorb the water and equalize out. My dough always looks like it's WAYYY too dry, but then needed extra flour. So I cut the water from 1 1/3 cups to 1 1/4 cups stated and it worked out better for my kitchen.

NOTES: you may need to adjust the amount of yeast, up or down according to how YOUR machine works. I find that I have to change my amount down from any given recipe. Most recipes call for about 2 tsp of yeast. This makes MY loaves collapse, so I've lowered the amount for MY machine. If you find that you need to add more yeast in the next batch, do so. You may find your machine requires even less than my machine does, so next time, use less. I adjust the yeast down by 1/4 tsp at a time, until my bread quits collapsing.

Also, I use a knife to do a more exact measurement. I get the yeast on my measuring spoon and then use the flat of the knife resting on the top of the spoon to scrape off any excess. What is left under the knife will be the correct amount. (instead of the time honored load the spoon and "shake" any excess off.) I measure all the dry ingredients this same way, using a knife to level the ingredient off.

Bread machines are picky about measurements. It's due to the fact that you can't just change the timing if the bread rises faster than the machine is set for. If you make this loaf by hand, you can get away with the "scoop and shake" method because you determine when it goes into the oven.

I found out that I don't need water that "feels warm" for my machine. If I use water that "feels warm" it's too warm and my bread rises too fast. Our bodies are 98.6 or there abouts. So the 96 degree water won't feel warm to our hands. We just don't want the water "cold". Again, if you make it by hand, you have greater freedom in the temp. Just don't get it too hot or it will kill the yeastie beasties.

I keep my yeast in the freezer. I bring home the 2 pack of 1lb yeast from Sam's and put it directly in the freezer. The yeast I'm using now (and having to cut back on) is 4 YEARS OUT of date! I keep mine in the original mylar bags. When I open one, I fold down the top of the bag as far as it will go and use a spring type clothes pin to close the bag, then put the bag in a ziplock and plop it back into the freezer.

I also keep my freshly ground whole wheat in the freezer, along with the powdered milk.

Another of my tricks is that once I have the recipe down to where it works consistently on my machine, I will sack up the dry ingredients in ziplocks and store those in the freezer. It usually takes about 4 loaves of bread to adjust a new recipe so that it works consistently. Anyway, when I make one loaf for the pan, I make another 7 for the freezer. That will last us about 4 days at 2 loaves a day. When I make the mixes, I will close the bag and then either shake it well or knead it to mix all the ingredients together. Then I keep the recipe on the cupboard door over where the bread machine sits. Since the wet ingredients are on the top of the list, I just go down the list to where the dry ingredients start. That's when you add the package of "mix" to your machine. The next time I need to make packets, there the recipe is, right on the cupboard door! We also keep a pizza dough recipe on the same cupboard door - we mix that in the machine and then transfer the portions to our cast iron skillets for baking. And for those that are offended at the idea of 3x5 cards taped on their nice cabinet fronts, you can open the cabinet door and place them on the inside of the door. Then they are not visible, but still readily handy. (If I had a nice, matching kitchen, I probably wouldn't put it on the outside of MY doors either. But since my "kitchen" consists of 4 cabinets, and 3 pieces of counter top 16", 24" and 31" long, what the heck. Two pieces of paper on a cabinet door are the least of my problems. lol)

You can make this recipe by hand, your just going to have to knead it for about 10 mins and let it rise for about 30 mins, then knead it again for about 5 mins and let it rise again before shaping it, letting it rise a third time for about 45 mins and then baking it. Or you can cheat and only let it rise once before shaping it. Your call. The more you go through the kneaded and letting it rise cycle, the fine the bread texture will be.

Also, if you're making bread by hand, stir the yeast to the dry ingredients. Just stir the dry ingredients well and then add the liquids. As long as you know the yeast is good, you don't have to "proof" it by putting it in some sugared water and trying to dissolve the yeast into the water. To me, it makes a gooey mess and you have to keep scraping it off the spoon to get the yeast back into the water. I've got better things to do for 5 mins than muck around with that process, so I skip it. But again, I know I've got good yeast. YMMV.

If you want a softer bread crust, exchange the oil/shortening/fats for real mayo - measure for measure. (1/4 cup for 1/4c, etc.) Make sure it's not Miracle Whip, not low fat/no fat, but REAL mayo. The bread crust will stay soft when it cools. You can also sub this in your biscuits and it will keep them soft too. My kids claim they can taste the mayo - which they will not eat for a million bucks, but I can't taste it in there. I used it for years but until they saw me put it in, they never complained. Again, ymmv.

I found a bunch of different ways to shape bread recipes into different style rolls. I decided to move those ideas to a different page. It will make them easier to find later.


Brie said...

I'll have to try the whole wheat bread. I am just now converting to making it myself for our family...don't know why I hadn't done it before!

Terri said...

Thanks for the recipe. Can't wait to try it!

Rick said...

I have found that adding a teaspoon each of ascorbic acid (Fruit Fresh) and pectin (Sure-Jell) to each loaf of bread, greatly improves the texture of the bread, and I have not had any more problems with crumbly homemade (ABM) bread.

Sarah @ Mum In Bloom said...

You are amazing! I'm going to try to make these today. I'll link back my results. Thank you thank you for sharing :)

The Kallaher Family said...

I tried the recipe today, and I had some troubles. I am a beginner with bread machines. Can you help? The loaf did not rise properly. I know my ingredients are fresh, so that's not the problem. The loaf seemed dry, so I added a half teaspoon of water. I ended up with a BRICK. Any ideas?

Darlene said...

@The Kallaher Family

There are several things that could be wrong.

1st choice is that something is wrong with or happened to your yeast. First thing is that your water was too hot for the yeast. Temps over about 112 will kill yeast. You want LUKEWARM water - test it on your wrist, it should be just warm - like a baby's bath/bottle warm.

It could be that your yeast, even if the package says it's still in date, could be bad. That happens sometimes. Try "proofing" it (1 cup LUKEWARM water, 1 tbs sugar and 1 tsp yeast) for 5 minutes and seeing if the yeast foams up. If not, it's bad.

2nd could be that your flour was not measured correctly. Normally in bread-making, you don't have to be real accurate in the measuring department. You can just scoop and level by shaking the cup. However, when making bread in a machine, you HAVE to measure accurately. Reason being, the bread machine can't make the adjustments a baker makes by looking at the dough and then changing the timing to reflect the status of the dough.

To measure accurately, take a spoon and stir the flour around to loosen it up. Then, using the same spoon, GENTLY scoop the flour from the bag/container into your measuring cup. Take a table knife, lay it on it's side and gently run it across the top of the DRY measure cup, swiping off the excess. Don't press down on the flour, just run it flat across the top of the cup.

When you measure your water use a LIQUID measuring cup (yes, there is a difference between the wet and dry measuring cups!). Also, get down on eye level when you've filled the cup and make sure from THAT level of the measurement.

Again, accuracy in measuring is critical when using a bread machine - if you want dependable results.

The other thing is your flour may have been dryer than my dough is here in Georgia. We have a LOT of humidity, and our flour absorbs some of it so it needs less water to "hydrate" the flour. I know when I open flour that's been sealed in #10 cans that comes from out west, it takes more liquid to hydrate it than either what I mill here or what I buy in the local store.

I've also noticed that when I use a different machine, it takes a loaf or two of tweaking to get the same results as the machine I normally use. And when I change positions from where I normally have the bread machine sitting it affects the outcome. And when I do laundry (washer and dryer are in the kitchen along with the bread machine)it will affect the bread machine bread dough.

So check those things and get back to me.

I've used this recipe for years so I know it works, it's getting it working at your house that will be the challenge. We can get you doing this, it may just take a couple of tries to fine tune it.

The Kallaher Family said...

Thanks for all the tips.
I will try again and let you know how it turns out.
Do you ever use whole wheat flour that you don't grind yourself? If so, what brand?

Darlene said...

Yes, on rare occasions, I have used store-bought whole wheat. I've used whatever was available. Realize that purchased whole wheat flour has lost a lot of the nutrients in it. Once the grain's shell is cracked, the vitamin content beings to diminish very quickly. When I grind my whole wheat, I take out what I need and put any leftovers in the freezer in a freezer bag and then put that bag inside a #10 can and put the lid on the can.

Having said that, if whole wheat from the store is all you have available, then it's still better for you than white flour.

I've heard from others that "King Arthur" brand is a good brand and delivers consistent results. I know it's more expensive than the others. I also know that Bob's Red Mill has all kinds of flours and grains. Even as rural as I am, we have those brands available to us. Again, those brands are more expensive than Pillsbury or Gold Medal brands.

When you buy flour, make sure to look at the protein content. The lower the protein, the more likely you will have bread failure. The higher the protein content, the more likely you'll have biscuit failure. The reason is that it's the protein that has the gluten attached to it. Bread needs gluten, biscuits take VERY careful handling not to be come tough and with a higher protein flour, the easier it is to make them tough.

That's why brands like "White Lily" and "Martha White" are known as biscuit flours. They're lower protein. You can make biscuits with whole wheat, it just takes a really gentle hand not to get the gluten working in the dough.

HTH, let me hear back from you. Good Luck!