Last year I started grinding my own wheat berries for flour and boy are we loving it! I'm so glad I invested in a grain mill. The freshly milled taste is like nothing else and the health benefits are enormous! If you haven't already, check out this video from Sue Becker that explains all the benefits of consuming freshly ground grains.
Several friends have asked me for my bread recipe lately, so today I took the time to photograph the process so I could write it up.
I think one of the most important things to know about baking fantastic bread is to get the dough ball right. Is it too wet? Too dry? The best way I can tell that my dough ball is just right is when it doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl and it feels like chewed bubblegum. It should feel kind of tacky but not sticky.
Another way to tell is if you can form it into a log that will hold its shape.
So, if your dough is too dry and crumbly to do this, add a little warm water. If it's too wet, knead in some more flour. If you take the time to get your dough ball right, the rest should be a breeze!
Fresh Whole Wheat Bread (2 loaves)
2 1/4 c. warm water
1 1/2 TB yeast
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. honey
1 TB salt
9 1/2 - 10 c. freshly ground whole wheat flour
Begin by grinding your wheat berries. When you're about 10 minutes from finishing, mix the yeast and warm water together and let it sit the rest of the grinding time. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you will be kneading by hand, just put this in your mixing bowl. Remember that if your bowl is cold, you'll need to warm it up under warm water. The water and yeast mixture needs to stay warm.
Once your berries are finished, add the oil, honey, and salt to your mixing bowl. Then add a few cups of flour and begin mixing. Add the rest, a cup at a time, making sure everything is incorporated well by scraping the sides of the bowl from time to time. I usually stop at about 9 cups and really mix/knead it well, then I check the dough ball. If it is tacky like gum but not sticky, it is ready. I usually need 9 1/2 cups of flour to get it perfect.
Continue kneading with a dough hook or by hand for about 5 minutes. Then let the dough ball rest in the bowl for 30 minutes. After that, oil your bread pans and then form the dough into two logs the length of your bread pans minus about an inch. Place the logs in the bread pans with the seam side down and let them rise in a warm place for awhile---usually an hour or two. You can cover them if you'd like but I never do---I use shallow pans and I don't want to mess up the tops!
Lastly, bake them at 325º for about 30 minutes. You'll need to watch them to see when they're at the stage of browning you prefer as every oven is a little different. Make sure they're at least a light golden brown so you can ensure the middle is cooked through. Then slide a knife around to remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a rack. If you leave them to cool in the pans, they'll sweat and your bread will become soggy. I've found this to be true, even for stoneware pans.
I hope you enjoy this delicious fresh whole wheat bread! Let me know if you try it out!