cracked wheat bread

cracked wheat bread, originally uploaded by Seligmans Dog.

I like to bake whole grain breads, but often have problems. When I say whole grain, I don't want all rough milled flour, I want a significant fraction of the grain to be whole grain just hydrated to soften it. The biggest problem? I like my grainy bread to be for sandwhiches and enjoying with cheese; for that I prefer a boule shape. The inherent challenge with this shape and having whole grain in the ingredient list is often a doughy undercooked center. The whole grain retains so much moisture (which is great for shelf life), but it creates two different environments of cooking, the exterior and middle. Kind of like breast and thighs on chicken.

I tried a recipe I really liked recently. Inspired by Bittman's Food Matters (thanks Bethia!). I use more water than Bittman's recipe and let the grain steep for a long time prior to mixing to insure no crunchies in the final bread. I made this Sunday afternoon and it's still as good as the day it came out of the oven. This is a big deal for me. I like Frankie to have her bread from home and don't always have time to bake bread daily.

Cracked Wheat Bread
• In a bowl used for rising add:
Cracked wheat (coarse or fine), 1/2 C
Boiling water, 2.0 C
• Let sit until convenient (an hour or so, I let it sit all day).
• Add:
salt, 1.5 teaspoons
grain flours mix, 1/2 C (I have a tub of spelt, wheat and rye flour mixed)
unbleached white (need some structure), 2 Cups
vegetable oil, 2 tablespoon
dry yeast, 1/2 teaspoon
• Mix until the thing forms a ball and kind of knead with wooden spoon in bowl
• Let rise at least 12 hours.
• Form into a boule and let sit on parchment covered with a dry dishtowel for about 8 hours. The dough's not very sticky, typical of nice grainy doughs. Use a bit of flour to prevent any tackiness if you need while shaping.
• Slide into a 425°F oven; I cooked it on a sheet pan that preheated in the oven and toss a 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the oven.
• Bake 45 minutes at 425°F, remove and let thoroughly cool.


mac said...

Looks good. I bake a whole wheat sandwich loaf with a receipe for 'Cracked Wheat Loaf' from Beranbaum's "Bread Bible." Her receipe also calls for soaking the bulghur, but her recipe doesn't require such a long rise. I have been making this bread almost every week for two years. For somewhat the same reason you mention, I started doing it because I didn't like paying $4.50 for a product that I could make just as well at home. I think my formula has evolved to probably half ww flour half bread flour (I like Sapphire, it says AP but it's strong), I also throw in an ounce of rolled oats. I stopped using cracked wheat bc my little guy complained. The secret to shelf life is fat. The oil is what keeps the sandwich loaf fresh and springy. I use liquid lecithin for my fat. I also cook at a lower temp, using convection, I preheat to 375, then set at 325 for 35 min.
All that said (I really should get my own blog huh?) find the formula that is not too hard do on a weekly basis and do it again and again and again...


Dave said...

Great points.
1. I'm surprised the kid can tell cracked wheat from bulgur, get that kid's palate on Hell's Kitchen or Top Chef.
2. Half and half. I'm going to try again, but in the past when I creep over 30% grain, I get serious density.

3. Sapphire's the best. I constantly test other flour anticipating that dark day they take Montana Sapphire away (that was my psychiatrist's suggestion for anticipating that ridiculous fear).

4. Lecithin, what an interesting choice. You should definitely start a blog and showcase that nifty ingredient.

5. The lower temp just made me hit myself in the head. Makes so much sense. Poilane's miche is a big frigging 4-5 pounder, I wonder how that pig of a loaf is baked?
Thanks for all the tips.

Andrew said...

Very cool discussion. I'm inspired to give it a try using a recipe from the Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Chilebrown said...

I used to make a bread from cracked wheat berries, wheat germ and whole wheat flour and honey.The recipe was from Sunset Books/magazines. I called it sticks and stones bread. It never sliced well for sandwiches. It was tasty and I guess good for you.

Now when I ever make bread, I allways throw a cup of whole wheat flour. Yeah!!!!!