Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cracked Wheat Bread
From Ann Carter
This is the nearest thing to the popular commercial honey-wheatberry bread.  It is light, pale, pretty, delicious - far better in every way than it's store-bought counterpart.

To use Cracked Wheat - The night before, mix the wheat, molasses, and cool water.  The water should cover the grain when you start;  add more if necessary.  Let stand in a cool place until morning.

To use Bulgur Wheat - Just before you dissolve the yeast and begin to mix the dough, boil 3/4 c water.  Mix the bulgur, molasses, and water in a heavy saucepan.  Bring them to a boil, stirring, and cover, removing from heat.  Set aside.

 1/3 c coarse cracked wheat OR 3/4 c bulgur wheat
2 tbsp molasses
water to cover, 3/4 cup
2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 c warm water
1/2 c honey
3/4 c boiling water
1 1/4 c cold buttermilk
5 1/2 c finely ground high-gluten whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter

Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 c warm water.  Dissolve the honey in the hot water and add the buttermilk.  Stir the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the buttermilk mixture and the yeast, combining them to make a dough.  Knead partway, for about 10 minutes only, then let rise in a warm place about an hour and half.  Test to see whether it is ready to deflate:  wet your finger and poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep.  If the hole does not fill in at all or if the dough sighs, go on to the next step.  Otherwise, allow a little more time.
Drain any excess water from the wheat.  Spread the butter on the kneading surface and turn the dough out onto it, flattening the dough to a large oblong.  Spread the grain out on the dough and fold them together.  Knead the grain and the butte into the dough, and keep working them together until the dough is silky and lustrous, stretchy and even - except for the brown grains, of course.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Let the dough rise again as before;  this time it will take about half as long.
As soon as the dough tests ready, turn it out onto the tabletop and press to deflate.  Cut in half and round each part.  Cover and allow to relax very well - this may take 15 minutes unless your dough is quite soft.  Use flour on the board when you shape the loaves, and be very gentle to keep the gluten film from tearing. This dough makes very fine hearth loaves, splendid buns or rolls, and big spectacular pan loaves.
The shaped dough should rise quite high before you put it in to the preheated oven.  It does best in a place that is warm and not too humid.  Have the oven ready a a little early, and if the tops of the loaves begin to rip from the stress of the wheat, get them into the oven.  usually they won't rip if you have kneaded well, but whether they do or not, their crusts will be pretty if you slash them.  If there is a rip, slash so as to make it look intentional.
Put the loaves into a preheated oven as soon as yo finish slashing them.  Start the oven at 400; after 10 minutes turn the heat down to 325 and bake for almost an hour.  when the loaves come out of the oven, brush the tops with butter.

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