Whole Wheat Baking Tips

Do you know – I or someone in my family has baked bread for over 20 years. I can’t even remember when we ate exclusively store-bought bread. At the time we explored the idea of baking our own bread, I was one of those moms who intended to feed my family the best I could afford (which was pretty tight for us).

For our family to eat whole wheat bread, it became obvious that we would need to bake our own. Even now checking the bread prices the best whole wheat comparable in the stores I could find locally was $2.75 a loaf on sale. Costco has a double pack for $5, or $2.50 per. But the usual price is $3.50+ per loaf. Our cost per loaf is $1.05 for freshly ground, freshly baked organic whole wheat bread.

Now, it wasn’t easy to come up with the money for the mixer way back then. But I managed the dollars so that once we had saved the $500, I bought a Bosch Universal and a Whisper Mill – a lot of money at the time but I figured out that the cost of bread versus the cost of making our own, the machine would pay for itself in less than a year.

Now these many years later we have gone through 3 Bosch Universals and 3 mills (due to baking for friends and the farmer’s market – see my book A Goldmine In Your Kitchen) but I guarantee you the initial cost and moderate amount of time it takes to bake it yourself is so worth it.

For those of you who say you wouldn’t have the time to bake, we can grind, mix, knead and be done in 1 hour and 30 minutes per 6 loaves (actual hands-on involvement is 5 minutes to grind wheat, 5 minutes to mix/knead and 5 minutes to shape). The Bosch kneads the dough in 4 minutes as compared to the 25-30 minutes of hand kneading necessary to develop the gluten.

We also were able to make bread and baked goods to sell at the local farmer’s market for three summers. Folks love freshly baked bread. And I always recommend making your own. It’s just one of those joys that stick in your mind. Oh, the smell of hot yeasty whole wheat bread with butter…

Like I said our bread works out to be just over a dollar a loaf. Now, I know that you can get store-bought wheat bread (facsimile) on sale or at a local bread store for about that. But I admit that a tiny bit of a snob about the idea of fresh ground whole wheat. When we do pick up bread in the event that my baker didn’t get the job done that day, we all sort of wrinkle up our noses and beg the baker to get on the job fast!

And you have not tasted “heaven” till you have eaten a fresh hot out of the oven Pecan Sticky bun!! To die for!!

I am certain that one reason that folks don’t like whole grain bread is that they haven’t tasted the real thing. I mean, fresh ground wheat has a sweet taste since the oils in the wheat haven’t gone rancid and bitter tasting.

Anyway, the kids are getting together a video showing us making bread and lots of the goodies. I’ll post it as soon as it’s done.

My next project is Artisan style breads… smell that baguette!

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