Tag Archives: breadmaking

I’m Loafing Today – As in, Making Bread!

I’ve been “loafing” today –  as in, making bread.

This is an update for regular readers who enjoyed my last post on making bread for the first time. I’ve advanced a little bit since then. I’m up to about a dozen loaves now.

I’m by no means expert at it, but I’ve been having fun and experimenting with making bread from scratch. One of my experiments was grinding my own wheat and baking it. It was a – shall we say – mixed success. Most cooks, I suppose, only show their successes. But I figure, well, if you don’t make mistakes, how are you going to learn? So, I decided to share this experiment anyway.

It didn’t rise as much as I would have wanted and it was rather heavy. But here’s a photo log:

Hard red wheat berries bought from bulk supplies at Rainbow Natural Grocery . (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Hard red wheat berries bought from bulk supplies at Rainbow Natural Grocery . (Photo by Jim Ewing)

First, I bought some hard red wheat – the kind that’s grown locally and is sold in bulk at Rainbow Natural Foods.

I ground the wheat berries in my Vitamixer. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

I ground the wheat berries in my Vitamixer. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Then, I ground it with my Vitamixer.

The ground wheat looked good in the mixing bowl. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

The ground wheat looked good in the mixing bowl. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

It looked pretty good in the mixing bowl.

The ground wheat kneaded to a nice consistency. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

The ground wheat kneaded to a nice consistency. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

It also looked good and felt good to my hands in kneading it.

It didn't rise very well, though. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

It didn’t rise very well, though. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

It never really rose to fill the pan, however. I waited and waited. Finally, I popped it in the oven, hopping it might expand a little more, but that didn’t happen either. By contrast, the other two loafs I was making, rose quite well and came out with a nice size and consistency.

Those I gave away. This one, I kept.

Even bread "mistakes" can taste good! (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Even bread “mistakes” can taste good! (Photo by Jim Ewing)

This “mistake,” since it was small and heavy, I ate! And know what? It was great! I whipped up some cream and slathered it in honey from my bees, and it was heavenly. 🙂

As I learned in hindsight, I didn’t grind it fine enough. Next time, I’ll know better.

Here are some loaves – two with organic white flour, one with organic whole wheat flour, both store bought! – I’m waiting to rise to pop into the oven:

I've been a regular little  production line, creating loaves today. These are rising and will be set in the oven in a couple of hours. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

I’ve been a regular little production line, creating loaves today. These are rising and will be set in the oven in a couple of hours. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

They’ll be Christmas presents.

I expect that I will return to my grinding my own wheat experiments, and probably using other flours, but since these were meant to be given as gifts, I figured I’d better stick to the tried and true.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit blueskywaters.com.

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First Loaf of Bread – A ‘First’ for Me!

I’m so excited, and surprised, I couldn’t wait to share this: I just baked my first loaf of bread, ever!

My first loaf of bread baked from scratch, ever! (Photo by Jim Ewing)

My first loaf of bread baked from scratch! (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Now, maybe for longtime cooks – maybe even everybody, for all I know – it’s no big deal to bake a loaf of bread. But for me, it’s a big deal. I just made it from scratch.

I actually have ordered a bread maker, but it hasn’t arrived yet. And I got to thinking: Hmmm, maybe I could try making one loaf from scratch. If it’s too difficult and I can’t do it, then I’ll have the bread making machine.

So, I bought some flour and some yeast. I followed the directions: well, sort of. My first attempt ended up being a big, gooey mess. I threw it out and tried again. And, voila!

Actually, this is part of a process that started last summer when I read Michael Pollen’s book, Cooked. In it, he goes to great lengths to explain how “iffy” is modern bread bought at the grocery. He also details his odyssey toward making his own bread.

First, I thought, gosh, I didn’t know there was that much to making bread!

Second, I started exploring new breads – their taste, texture, and various types. (At Kripalu, I think my friends thought I was crazy: they make three or four different breads for each meal, and I was snarfing down slices from all of them!)

Third, I thought, hmmm, I could do this!

My initial thought was that I would buy a bread making machine and then, if it wasn’t too hard to learn how to do, then I would try baking from scratch. But, somehow, that got turned around.

As I’m writing this, my next loaf is on the kitchen table, rising, before being put into the oven.

For these loaves, I used store bought yeast and ground organic whole wheat flour. At some point, I want to cultivate my own (sourdough) yeast, and grind my own flour. I also plan to make my own butter. And, of course, I already have my own honey (thanks to my sweet bees!).

Some thoughts….

I have to admit, kneading bread is quite a sensual experience. The dough seems to come alive in your hands. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

I have to admit, kneading bread is quite a sensual experience. The dough seems to come alive in your hands. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Making bread is quite a sensual experience. If that sounds strange, well, I don’t know what to say, except that when you are rolling the dough on the board and in your hands, it feels quite alive! I started thinking of the dough as a person; a living being that required tender care, caresses. It felt alive in my hands. When I put it in the oven, I apologized to it; hoping that I had done everything right, and it would mature into the substantial, healthy, nutritious bread that it could be in the right hands, with the right cook. I felt a sense of responsibility, and some worry.

So, when it came out of the oven and, after it had sufficiently cooled, I was able to slice it and look at its texture, and taste it, and saw that it was good — just perfect! — I was elated!

Yum! Fresh Bread! That I baked from scratch! (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Yum! Fresh Bread! That I baked from scratch! (Photo by Jim Ewing)

So, now, I’m enjoyed fresh made bread, from scratch! Loaf number three is in the oven, filling the house with the delightful scent of fresh-baked bread!

Yum!

New adventures await!

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit blueskywaters.com.

Urban Homesteading: Grow Your Own Sandwich

July 12, 2012

Urban Homesteading: Grow Your Own Sandwich

You don’t have to have a large  garden spread to grow your own organic food. In
fact, you can grow  plenty of food to supplement your diet in a small space.
While  growing enough grain for bread might be a challenge in, say, a small
apartment or tiny yard, you can grow nutritious grain sprouts anywhere  to add
to your sandwiches.
Start  with one to four tablespoons of food-grade organic seeds. Put them in a
wide mouth jar, and cover the jar opening with nylon mesh or tulle  cloth from a
fabric store and affix it with a rubber band. Add water,  swirl it around and
drain. Repeat the water, swirl and drain cycle twice  a day for three to six
days, and you will have sprouts ready to eat.
A  word of warning for growing sprouts: Use only food-grade organic seeds,  as
some seeds are poisonous. Also, non-organic seeds could be  contaminated with
food-poisoning bacteria. Several online companies  offer food-grade organic
seeds specifically for sprouting, including  Johnny’s Selected Seeds
(johnnyseeds.com) and Peaceful Valley (groworganic.com).
Good  sprouts to grow are lentils, garbonzo beans, mung beans, red clover,
sunflowers, radish, rye, winter wheat, alfalfa, arugula, broccoli,  buckwheat,
canola (non-GMO) and adzuki beans.
For  those who are more ambitious — and have more room or access to a  community garden plot — you can grow your own sandwich. With 100 square  feet (a 10-foot by 10-foot plot), you can grow enough amaranth, barley  or rye to bake bread twice a month for a year.
You will have to buy (or rent) a grain mill, or find someone who grind grains in
small quantities. Peaceful Valley (groworganic.com), offers a hand-cranking
grain mill for $149. A bread maker would be nice, too.

Bread From Your Garden?
If you’re interested in growing  grain in your garden, a good book on the
subject is “Homegrown Whole  Grains” by Sara Pitzer (Storey Publishing, 2009,
$14.95).
As  Pitzer notes, in a 10-foot-square plot, backyard farmers can grow  enough
wheat to harvest 50 pounds in a single afternoon—and that can be  baked into 50
loaves of fresh bread.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.