While I have been trying my hand at making plain white bread and oatmeal bread this week, I remembered a bakery in Concord, MA. where you can buy the best bread I’ve ever tasted: cracked wheat bread. The loaves are huge and the crumb is tender to the bite and crispy chewy when toasted. I love that bread!
So, I looked around for cracked wheat at the local market and there was none to be had. Amazon listed it for a hefty price and I found it on VitaCost website in the same brand at a fraction of the cost. It arrived yesterday and this morning, I’m starting a recipe for two loaves of cracked wheat bread.
The first step is to soak the cracked wheat in boiling water for an hour. Next comes proofing the yeast in water. The remaining wet ingredients include warm buttermilk (which I had in the fridge from making a yummy buttermilk bacon salad dressing,) honey and molasses. The dry ingredients include a 1 to 3 ratio of whole wheat flour and regular white flour.
As an aside, I’ve been borrowing bread baking books from the library down the street – including “Bouchon baking” by Thomas Keller, “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice,” “Flour, water, yeast, salt” and also reading bread recipes online. What I have taken away for myself is that a) I’m not going to become a perfectionist bread-maker; b) I’d like to make bread that’s delicious every so often; c) I don’t want to buy a mixer with a bread hook.
Even though I was ready to spring for a cute, red Mixmaster stand mixer with a dough hook for less than $100, it occurred to me this morning that I might be able to mix the dough similarly in my trusty Cuisinart! So, I did just that. I followed the recipe and pulsed it in my Cuisinart, especially running it for a couple of minutes once everything was incorporated. I could tell that the machine was okay but beginning to labor a little bit during the final mixing so I shut it off. Then, I scraped the dough out of it and kneaded it by hand, adding a sprinkle of white flour to make it less sticky and easier to handle. Oiled a bowl and set the ball of dough in it and covered it with plastic wrap. Then, I set it in a warmed oven (turned on and then off, leaving the oven light on) to rise for a couple of hours.
BTW, if you try the recipe that is highlighted above, I noticed that there was no mention of when to add the proofed yeast back in. I combined it with the warm buttermilk, molasses, honey, butter mixture before adding the rest of the white flour. I’m also curious to see if the molasses is overpowering because it’s pretty strong in the dough.
The kneaded and formed loaves rose again and were baked at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. I was relieved to see that this recipe’s photo showed a slightly deflated top similar to what my loaves have been looking like.
Footnote: Here’s a photo of the first slice from this loaf of bread. Apparently, my use of a Cuisinart to mix the dough worked out well – the crumb is exceptionally light and the bread has a uniform grain. It also tastes good too!