~recipe updated, first published way back in 2006~
~more recently updated recipes~
Back in 2006, First Whole Grain Bread with Beets: World Bread Day is today and I had such high hopes for a beet-stained, crimson-colored bread that would have us all ooo-ing and aah-ing over gorgeous whole-grain goodness. Instead, the loaf turned out a disappointing pink-ish crust with small stains of pink inside. On the plus side, it was dense (which I happen to like) and moist and delicious and yes, packed with whole-grain goodness, not a bad result, mind you! It was a nibble-me bread: a thin slice with butter paired with a salad made for a light but filling supper.
Back in 2006, Then Whole Grain Bread With No Beets: So I made a second loaf without the beets. It's even better! I would definitely make it again. Without the weight of the beets, the loaf rose tall and light. It's going to be great for sandwiches and toast.
Fast Forward Ten Years: After a health setback and six weeks in a rehab center, my 90-year old father came to live with us. His first week here in St. Louis, I made this bread for the first time in an unforgivable ten years. (I know, I know. Where do the years go?) It was a fine, fine bread. Little did I know that this – adapted for convenience and taste – would spawn a bread-baking ritual. That new recipe to come!
RECIPE for WHOLE GRAIN BREAD
Time to table: 4 hours
Makes one large or two smaller loaves
Head up! If you're using a bread machine, add the ingredients in the order listed, it's especially important to separate the salt and the yeast. To mix the bread by hand, you'll use the same ingredients but mix them in a different order in two bowls.
3/4 cup warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cup bread flour
3 tablespoons whole-grain stone-ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oatmeal
3 tablespoons ground or whole flaxseed
2 tablespoons wheat bran
1 or 2 envelopes (2-1/4 teaspoons or 4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon oil (for the bowl, if mixing by hand)
Yellow cornmeal (for dusting the loaf, optional)
Butter (for brushing the top crust, optional)
BREAD MACHINE Bake on the "white bread" setting with a "light" crust. Remove from bread machine and brush top with butter. Let cool. Because of the beets, store in refrigerator.
MIX & KNEAD BY HAND In a large bowl, stir together milk, water, yeast and sugar, let rest at room temperature while gathering the remaining ingredients, it should begin to bubble and froth, the sure sign that the yeast is alive and activating. In a second bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, oatmeal, flaxseed, bran and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the milk mixture with a wooden spoon. Turn dough onto a floured counter and knead for about five minutes. Gather dough together into a ball and place in a clean bowl with a tablespoon of oil; turn the dough so that all sides are oiled. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place until the dough almost doubles, about two hours. With a fist, deflate the dough and shape into a round loaf. (Alternatively, spray a standard loaf pan and shape an oblong loaf.) Dust the loaf with yellow cornmeal, then arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or alternatively, in the loaf pan). Score the dough with a serrated knife. Cover lightly with a clean kitchen towel and let rise about one hour. Heat oven to 350F/180C and bake bread until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Immediately turn loaf onto a cooling rack and brush top with butter.
ALANNA'S TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
HOW MUCH YEAST? The inspiring recipe calls for two envelopes (4-1/2 teaspoons) yeast and I used that amount in 2006. In 2016, however, I used just one envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) and love the slightly dense, European-style texture. That's my recommendation.
IS THIS BREAD WHOLE-GRAIN? Well, yes. But no. It does contain about 25% whole-grain flour so the marketeers, yes, would call it "whole grain". But then again, it's not 100% whole grain bread, that's what I think we're all looking for when we see "whole grain" in a recipe title or on a bread wrapper. Back in 2006, I called this bread "Whole Grain Bread" because the recipe source, Martha Stewart, did.
BEETS? Twice, I made this bread with 3 cups of grated roasted/cooked beets mixed in. The first time I stirred beets into the dough, the result was a moist but unevenly colored bread. The second time, it was a hot pink hot mess. Are beets a good idea? NO. Give it up, Beet Queen. (That'd be me, Alanna.)
WORLD BREAD DAY World Bread Day was a blogging thing starting in 2006, when a German (maybe Swiss?) blogger named Zorra inspired food bloggers to unite across the world to mix yeast and flour and feed their families. World Bread Day had a good ten-year run but the food blogging community is so immense now, there's no hosting events like this any longer. But there's hope! Zorra hints there may be more to come.
And Then There's Wonder Bread
At Christmas last year, let's count, that would be TEN months ago, my Dad ran to the store for bread and milk. I was dismayed when he came home with this loaf of Wonder "sour dough" bread. The kids ate a few slices for breakfast, then it disappeared into the depths of the bread drawer where it languished. Some months later, I opened the drawer for the first time in months – I was aghast, expecting to find a loaf green and crawly with science-experiment mold.
But no. It was perfect. Smelled fine. Perfectly shaped. No sign of spoilage. (I almost made a cheese sandwich.) And so it is, a few months later still, in October. Clearly, there were no ingredients with nutrients in this loaf.
Wonder Bread, sour dough or not, is truly-truly dead and lifeless cardboard.
10/20 update: My Dad told me today that when he was a child, he and my grandmother took the train from Iowa to Chicago for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. That seven-year old boy was mightily impressed by the Wonder Bakery producing small perfect loaves of bread! Methinks his daughter forgives him for bringing home Wonder Bread!
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MORE FAVORITE SAVORY BREAD RECIPES~ Pumpkin Corn Bread ~
~ Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins ~
~ Savory Muffins with Sweet Potato & Feta ~
~ more bread (with vegetables) recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Finnish Whole-Wheat Flatbread ~
~ Savory Cornbread Muffins ~
~ Light & Fluffy Homemade Whole-Grain Bread & Buns ~
~ more homemade bread recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
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