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100% whole wheat bread

July 20, 2011

Learning to make 100% whole wheat sanwhich bread makes me fondly recall homemade  lunches during my elementary school days.  I could count on processed ham or turkey, American cheese, yellow mustard, mayo in between 2 slices of  commercial white bread.  On occasion I got canned deviled  ham spread which seemed like a luxury.  It would be accompanied by a bag of chips, usually chile spiked Fritos.   All of the lower middle class Mexican-American kids took sandwiches to school for lunch. I recalled later that the working class kids took tacos.   It seems  much easier to make a sandwich than to make tacos to go.  My mom would have had to keep a filling  on hand on a daily basis. She would also have to make tortillas more often than she would have liked. I don’t believe factory made tortillas were available at that time.  It would have been too much work for  her. She was raising 4 kids and was also working as a nurse much of the time.  Come to think of it,  with no microwave around  , those room temperature and soggy tacos would not have been very appealing to us.  Imagine a bean taco that has been sitting arouns for 5 hours .  There would be plenty of hot Mexican food at home for dinner. No we were not eating healthy and wholesome sandwiches at school , but we didn’t care , we looked forward to our lunch hour.  I never tired of the lunchmeat sandwiches.  I can just see the deriding I would have gotten  if I had taken a hummus, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, spinach on wheat .    I doubt  packaged hummus or sprouts were available at our grocery store at that time. Anykind of upgraded sandwich was way beyond our horizon.

I’ve  made  “Basic whole wheat bread” from “The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book” several times. It’s a very good direct dough 100% whole wheat bread. The sandwich loaf had a good rise, it was flavorful, and it had a nice lightly moist crumb.  I would make it again, much more likely at work where I have a large Hobart mixer at my disposel. The recipe calls for 600 strokes of kneading, a very strenous workout if you are in a hurry.  I would not put that much stress on Kitchenaid  5 qt mixer.  I think one could alternate using the mixer and using your hands and arms to give each a break. Or if you were in the mood for a long meditative kneading session with the dough it could be relaxing.  I more recently made the “100% whole wheat sandwich bread” from Peter Reinhart’s “Whole Grain Bread.”   This 2 day recipe involved a soaker and  a biga to mix with the final dough.  I followed this recipe as closely as possible as I did with   “The Laurel’s  Kitchen Bread Book” .   The ingrediants are  the same though Reinhart’s gives you the option of using  milk, buttermilk yogurt soy milk, or rice milk for the soaker.  He also gives alternative sweeteners to honey.  I was also eager to use my recently bought 6 qt Kitchenaid mixer to see how it managed the whole wheat dough. No problem. This dough only calls for about 4 minutes of  mixing/kneading by mixer and about 5 minutes of hand kneading.  I’m sure the soaker and biga had all to do with the short workout.  My bread didn’t have the rise that the loaf in his photo had.  The flavor was much more developed and complex than I had imagined though. There were a couple of flavor notes on the bitter side which were found more prominently on the crust . I wasn’t too crazy about that, but after a day, the bitterness and particular notes started to subside .  This bread seems to dramatically evolve   in it’s flavor profile.  On it’s third day , it tastes like it has good keeping qualities.   I would like to try this one again.  It’s the basis and stepping stone  to Reinhart’s other recipes in his book.  I wonder if there is a vocabulary to describe particular flavors of bread like there is with wine.

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