The Art of Making Whole Wheat Bread

Bread baking is becoming a lost art. My grandmother made bread, but my mother didn’t. I learned how to bake bread at the university where I earned a degree in home economics education. If I hadn’t learned in school, I probably wouldn’t have learned to make bread at all. We live in an era where young adults are not learning the basic skills that were so much a part of our grandmothers’ generation. Even home economics programs in the schools are changing to more lecturing on life skills and less (if any)
hands-on learning. Many of today’s schools are in fact losing vocational funding and are unable to offer courses that teach skills such as bread baking, which I believe are very important.
People often think of bread making as some mysterious and complicated task that requires expensive equipment. In truth, it boils down to six simple steps:

  • Let the dough rise.
    Punch down the dough.
    Form loaves and put into bread pans.
    Let the dough rise again.
    Bake.
    You’ll need just a few kitchen tools to make bread:
    • Measuring cups
    • Measuring spoons
    • Large bowl with lid or plastic wrap
    • Bread pans
    • Sharp knife
    • Hot pads
    • Oven
    • Bread mixer (optional)

Grinding Whole Wheat

To grind whole wheat, you will need a wheat grinder. I suggest you get a good quality electric wheat and grain grinder. If you use your grinder a lot, you will want it to last. I have a hand grinder (which is useful during electrical outages) as well as an electric grinder. Grind only as much grain as you need for the recipe because wheat is more nutritious when freshly ground than when stored pre-ground. If you have extra ground flour, you can freeze it in a plastic bowl or plastic food storage bag. See Resource Guide for sources from which you can purchase wheat grinders.

Breads

Whole wheat, which has been referred to as the “staff of life,” is considered the most basic food in emergency storage programs. Wheat is easy to store and will keep indefinitely when properly stored. Whole wheat flour, because it has not been processed, still contains the bran, germ, and endosperm. All the vitamins and minerals are still intact. Because whole wheat flour is a whole food, it is much better for our bodies than white flour, which is considered an “empty-calorie food” because so many
nutrients, including the bran and wheat germ, have been removed during processing. Bleached white flour is, in fact, the base of most junk food.
In the milling process, whole wheat flour that has been freshly milled can be used to make fresh whole wheat bread. Cracked wheat can be used as breakfast cereal. Wheat can also be sprouted and added to bread.

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