November Breads: It’s All About the Flour

This is another monthly update about our adventures in baking all our own bread products.

Usually the focus of my bread making is the finished product, and my monthly updates reflect that. I mean, you bake bread to eat it, right? But this month, the breads I made were really all about the flour. Perhaps I should explain a bit.

My wife and I have been toying with the idea of milling our own flour for some time now. Our main reason for wanting to grind our own flours is for taste and nutrition. And after a lot of research into various brands and types of grain mills, we finally settled on the Nutrimill.  It helped that we got a first hand testimonial from the Cannon family at Stonewall Farms. They have been using their Nutrimill for some time now and are happy with the results. That and the lifetime warranty clinched the deal for us.

Nutrimill grain mill (click on any image to enlarge)

And I can say that after using ours for a month, we are happy with the results too! So far I have used it to make flour from wheat, buckwheat and popcorn. Did I just say popcorn? Yes! Grinding popcorn makes a great corn meal that has more fiber (74%), less starch, and more protein (34%) than corn meal made from yellow dent corn (USDA nutritional data found here). Not all grinders can handle popcorn, but for the Nutrimill it is a breeze.

Since we were anxious to try the ground popcorn, the first bread I made using freshly ground grains was some cornbread, using a modified King Arthur recipe that called for 2 cups of corn meal and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. I got the popcorn and wheat from a local health food store that has bulk grains (Elbert’s), and ground it right before I baked the cornbread. I baked it in my trusty square cast iron pan, and the cornbread turned out great, with a wonderful taste and texture.

Cornbread made with ground popcorn

Next up was a Rustic Buckwheat bread, using a recipe I saw on the Fusion Grain Cooking show on BYUtv. This recipe from Chef Brad sounded interesting to me, using fresh ground buckwheat flour, sourdough starter and cocoa nibs. I modified the recipe a bit, using 2 cups buckwheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat sourdough starter and 3 cups unbleached flour to boost it up to over 50% whole grains. And it has a whole cup of yummy cocoa nibs in it! If you’re not familiar with cocoa nibs, they are cacao beans that have been shelled and cracked into pieces (I used raw organic nibs from Navitas Naturals). They aren’t sweet, but have a crunchy texture and an intense cocoa flavor. I also added a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the bread to compensate for the lack of gluten in the buckwheat flour.

Rustic Buckwheat Bread

I formed half the dough into a free form loaf, and the rest into rolls. We pretty much devoured the loaf in a couple of days, and I froze the rolls for later use. The buckwheat flour gives the bread a nutty flavor as well as adding fiber, minerals and flavonoids. The rolls make a great snack, thawed and warmed slightly then drizzled with a little honey. And with any luck next year it will be our own honey. I’ll be making this bread again for sure.

Rustic Buckwheat rolls

Another bread I made this month was our Whole Grain bread, that featured freshly ground white whole wheat and some cooked black quinoa. I got a 25lb bag of Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold hard white spring wheat that should last us for a while. The flour from this wheat is light in color and long on nutrition (similar to the white whole wheat flour found in stores).

25lb sack of hard white wheat

Later in the month I made another batch of Whole Grain bread, this time grinding some local high protein red wheat I got from Rivercity Co-op. I ground this wheat more coarsely, and you could see the brown flecks of bran in the flour.

coarsely ground whole wheat flour

For this bread I added some leftover Black Forbidden rice. The rice made for an interesting looking dough! If you look closely you can also see the raw millet I used for this bread and the pieces of bran..

black rice and millet in dough

I baked this loaf in a loaf pan. We used this bread to make turkey sandwiches with our leftover Thanksgiving turkey, and we also had it with our turkey vegetable soup.

Whole Grain bread with black rice

I don’t know what breads will be on our plates for December, but I am sure they will include some freshly ground grains. I also have an oatmeal cookie recipe I want to try, using some whole grain oat flour. I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest update – I know we’ve loved eating the breads!

 

 

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