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Wholemeal Crank

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  1. The problem wih the saltines is that they're so darn good they disappear FAST. Even double or triple batches. The butter is definitely part of the reason. I've only recently started to work on this due to friend's celiac diagnosis, and the 'Tangy Aromatic Crackers' from Alice Medrich in Flavor Flours, are by far the best yet.
  2. There are different kinds of crackers! I mostly make whole grain crackers without laminations, depending on thinness, coarseness of grains/seeds and levels of fats to keep them from breaking teeth. That's where the coarse-ground grains from the hand-mill come into things--they break up some not-so-fat-rich doughs. Peter Reinhart's seedy snapper crackers used the oily seeds for tenderizing, but they depend on absolutely fresh seeds and being eaten quickly to keep the crackers tasting fresh. The eating quickly bit is mostly not a problem because they're delicious, but the absolutely fresh seeds is not always easy to arrange. I did finally figure out how to make laminated soda crackers (saltines) , but I've not prepared a photo primer on that yet. Here are the finished crackers.... Homemade Saltines by debunix, on Flickr Too much to do, too little time. I'm working on photo primers on a couple of cookies right now.
  3. More on how home milling is not just about bread..... A Cracker Primer This is how I make crackers. I was making two different batches of crackers this day, one batch of Corny Crackers, and one batch of Four-Seed Snapper crackers from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. I love crackers, and like homemade ones, but was frustrated with the effort to yield ratio required, and the lack of crispness if I didn't get the dough perfectly thin, or the high proportion of scorched crackers if I did roll them perfectly thin. I've since figured out some tricks that make it a lot easier and more efficient to make a bunch of them at once. After you've prepared the dough of your choice, let it rest and chill if required, and preheated the oven to about 400 degrees or as called for in your recipe, pat handfuls of dough into a rough rectangle and place on a baking sheet liner (teflon, silicone, heck, parchment would probably work too). If needed, set the liner on a damp towel to keep it in place on your work surface as you roll out the dough. Dust below and the top of the dough lightly to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll out the dough to desired thinness (usually 1/16" to 1/8", 2-3mm), rolling always from the center out to the edge, to avoid the edge rolling sticking and rolling up onto the pin. Next, dock the dough: with a fork, or better yet, a rolling docker, prick the dough evenly. This is to keep the dough from ballooning up like pitas as it bakes and making uneven crackers. Now cut the crackers, with a knife (gently so it won't damage your baking sheet liner) or a rolling pizza cutter or other cutter. I use a pasta cutter here. Now the crackers are ready to transfer to the baking sheet. This is a slick trick: no spatulas and careful arrangements needed. Just slip directly onto the baking sheet, liner and all. Now slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven. I keep baking tiles in the oven pretty much all the time, and bake two sheets worth of stuff at once. I set the timer for halfway through the baking time, and switch the sheets top and bottom and flip them front to back for even baking. I do not try to get them fully crisp at this time--the first baking is to brown them. They're going back in the oven like biscotti do to get crisp. This way I will be able to get all of them crisp without burning many or any, or doing a dance with the oven to remove them as they're done while letting others bake on. Once they're done, I set them aside, still on their baking sheet, unless I need to reuse the sheet and liner. If I were not double-baking them, I would remove them to cooling racks at this step. Then after all the dough is baked once, I turn off the oven and open the door until the temp is about 250 degrees F or so. Then I return the crackers to the oven, loosely piled on baking sheets, and set the temp to 150°F (for overnight crisping) or 200°F (for at least two hours). This is hot enough to dry and crisp them but not hot enough to burn them. Remove them carefully--even 150°F is plenty hot to burn bare fingers--and let them cool on a rack. Then enjoy your double-baked, crisp, easy crackers.
  4. Bread from Wheat to Eat This was not the best batch of bread ever, but still illustrates my bread technique pretty well. I've played around with different techniques for mixing, kneading, rising, proofing, and baking, and this is what I do most of the time. I start with whole wheat berries, which I buy 25 or 50 lbs at a time, so I have a collection of buckets for storing the several varieties I usually keep on hand (hard white, soft white, and durum are the usual suspects, plus whole field corn). The wheat gets weighed out before milling, here 500 grams is about the limit of what my food processor motor can handle: I set up the mill in the sink like this to help contain the dust and lining the sink with the towel also cuts down on the noise a bit. I call the mill my baby jet plane, because the milling heads on this impact mill spin at 28,000 rpm and it is LOUD. I never mill without earplugs. Milling now, adding wheat to keep the hopper full as it blasts away. Note the dust spot on the side of the sink. Next, after unplugging the mill, everything stuck on the lid gets brushed into the bowl. The metal teeth there are the milling heads. The little cups also get removed because a few teaspoons of flour gather in there and need to be brushed out. Then the whole thing gets emptied into whatever is needed for the next step--here, into a mixing bowl, but it could also go straight into the food processor. Now in the food processor, I add about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of instant yeast directly on top of the flour. I'm using the regular metal blade, not the 'dough blade' that came with it. I have some sourdough starter that I'm going to add for a bit of extra flavor, but because it hasn't been refreshed in a while and is not strong enough to raise the bread, this 'psuedo-sourdough' will also use a full complement of yeast. The starter lives in a neat little three-part ceramic crock that seals tightly enough to keep it from drying out, but loose enough to let fermentation gases out so it doesn't explode all over the fridge. I used about 1 cup of starter that is about 1:1 water:flour, and mix it with the rest of the liquid used for the bread before adding it to the flour mixture. Here, I'm just using another 1 cup of water, no honey or oils. starter 1 cup of starter 1 cup of starter plus 1 cup of water, and a bit Pour it all straight in, and turn on the processor. A dough forms pretty quickly--within much less than a minute: Now I let it sit for the 'autolyse' to hydrate the flour--10-20 minutes--before the kneading. The dough is a bit stiff and dry, however, and I can tell that it needs more water--because it is rough and doesn't sag when the motor is stopped. The 2 cups of liquid I added contained some flour, so my 'about 2 cups' wasn't enough. After the 'autolyse', I've turned it back on to knead, and added another 1/3 cup of water as it worked. After about a minute, the liquid is absorbed and the dough is 'cleaning the bowl' This is now a very soft, rather sticky dough, might have overdone the water a bit: A tea strainer makes a great dredger to dust the work surface (a silpat sheet) with flour, thinly and evenly And now the dough is dumped onto the work surface, and kneaded a few strokes to round it, before it gets plopped back to a bowl for rising. The rounded dough here is a bit saggy: The dough and bowl are put into a plastic produce bag, and if you handle it right, it's easy to capture abundant air in the bag so it is puffed up well above the rim of the bowl. This gives the bread room to rise without touching and sticking to the plastic, and keeps it nice and moist. The clip is tight enough to keep enough air in the bag but not so tight as to cause the gases released from the fermenting dough to pop the bag After 45 minutes at room temperature, the bag is already misted on the inside with moisture; and a few hours later there are a few little trails where water drops have formed and run through the condensation The dough has gone a little over the top here, starting to sag back already before I got to it. That's what happens when you're having too much fun in the garden to stop and tend it; fortunately, the bread will forgive the neglect. Still, you want to catch it when it is still domed. Turned out again onto the silpat, re-rounded with a few turns, and back to the bowl: And into the refrigerator for rising overnight: The next day, the dough is removed from the fridge, and returned to the work surface for dividing and shaping: I divided this into six pieces for large rolls or small loaves--enough for one morning's toast or to eat with a bowl of soup. Single serving loaves work best for me. The shaped loaves are set on a silpat-lined baking sheet, sprinkled with coarse semolina flour, and are put back in the bag for rising--in this case, I just open up the bag to a single layer of plastic, which just covers one baking sheet, loosely, and doesn't stick to the dough because it's already pretty damp on one side: Now they proof for about 45 minutes. The dough has to come to room temperature, and then rise, so this takes a while. Here they're about doubled in bulk, and relaxed to a flatter shape. Meanwhile, I've been preheating the baking bricks in the oven. Last stop before the oven is slashing the loaves. I'm still not very good at making the right kind of deep, angled cuts, which permit the dough to expand without having to tear the already formed crust. I used my bread knife because I couldn't find the lame. Now into the oven, onto the preheated bricks. If I were really determined, I could carefully place the formed loaves directly onto the bricks, with a fresh layer of semolina in between, but here I take the lazy way out and just put the pans on the bricks. I probably lose a bit of potential oven spring that way. This time I tried a new trick for keeping the oven steamy, which helps keep the crust soft until the dough is fully expanded. I put a small cast-iron teapot full of boiling water directly on the bottom of the oven, beneath this lower tray of bricks. In theory, it was supposed to keep bubbling and steaming away.... afterwards, though, there was still quite a bit of water in it, which I'm trying to show here, so I'm not sure how much steam it really made: I check for doneness not by knocking their bottoms, but checking the temp. For simple country rolls like this, I want 205-210 degrees internal temperature And here are the finished loaves Transfer to a cooling rack, out of reach of bread-thieving cats or other dangerous creatures, and you're done.
  5. I am so thrilled to see this topic here. There are very few places to really dive deep into discussions about home-milled grains. I resorted to posting some tips on my very plain website (text/photos only, no ads, animations, but I might still have a google analytics on older pages that goes nowhere but to a page whose password I've lost), but I would be surprised if more than a dozen people besides me have ever looked at it. This is about why I mill in the first place (short version: it's Dad's fault): Baking with whole grains And this is how I adapt recipes written for refined flour for home milled flour: Adapting refined-flour recipes to whole grains And here is my whole process from wheat grains to a loaf of bread: Bread from Wheat to Eat What makes it all worth it for me are really these things 1) I get the whole grain and the whole grain nutrition and all the fiber I need to keep things moving! 2) I again the most exquisite control over the flavor and texture of my baked goods by combining different grains and custom milling the flower for every single recipe immediately before I prepare it. It is definitely about a lot more than just wheat bread! –For most cookies, I start with 100% soft wheat if I want a texture like a toll house chocolate chip cookie, but if I want a shatteringly crisp short bread or biscotti, I use up to 30% brown rice, usually short grain or sweet rice. -If I want softer for a cake, I might use a significant proportion of oat with the soft wheat, up to 30-50%, or if I want softer with a different flavor, corn. -If I want pasta, I use durum (durum gluten is very strong but not as elastic as hard wheat gluten). Or if I want a extra firm texture for some crackers, with an earlier than usual flavor, durum is great. -I have moved away from a long period of almost exclusive use of white hard wheat because I think there might be a little more nutrition in the compounds that make the whole red in more traditional hard wheat, on the general principal that many of the key phytonutrients happen to be colorful, and because I started using some locally-grown heritage wheat from Roan Mills (I particularly like the Glenn, Red Fife (hard) and Sonora (soft) wheats), but unless I can special order and pick it up at the mill, they only sell them in combinations they control--not my thing at all. -I have been studying Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours to see how she combines non-wheat grains with different flavors in various recipes, more assiduously now that my best friend has been diagnosed as celiac. And I am playing more with non-wheat grains (even beans) for flavor and texture even when I am combining them with wheat, in part because I figure more variety in my diet should be healthier overall. 3) I virtually always use whole or lightly crushed/cut up spices milled in with the wheat for the freshest, brightest, strongest flavor. Most spices can be milled in with the grain because you are not using them a high enough concentration for their oiliness or hardness to be a problem, with few exceptions (dried ginger, dried galangal!). I used kitchen shears to cut up cinnamon quills and to cut whole vanilla beans into short lengths (no need to bother cutting it open and scraping out the seeds, just drop quarter inch pieces mixed in with the grain when milling). This offers an additional benefit because I can buy my spices and slightly larger quantities, whole, and they keep for years without significant loss of quality, not something you would want to try with ground spices. MILLS I first used a Kitchenetics Kitchen Mill, the same model my Dad bought, and I still use it regularly 35 years later. It's an impact mill, and mills the flour extremely fine. It has a setting dial for coarse to fine, but the coarse is very fine and the fine is silky. It's loud. I call it my baby jet plane, because it is loud. Not that long ago, I did a comparison with a decibel meter between the kitchenetics kitchen mill (110db) and the mockmill (100db). A Nutrimill Plus clocked in at 90db, definitely the quietest of the 3 I had available for my informal sound test. I always wear earplugs when milling! Its advantages versus the others are speed, finest flour, and it seems a little less prone to becoming jammed than the mockmill. When milling a lot of grain at a time, it does heat the flour 130 to 140 degrees F. They describe the motor as permanently lubricated; other than one servicing 5 or 6 years in when I foolishly attempted to powder sugar (DO NOT DO THAT!), it has just been brushed clean after each use. It has certainly withstood the test of time, because I am sure that by now it must have milled more than a ton (US) of grain. Blendtec now makes the same machine with slight differences. It did have a problem with a clamp that prompted me to try out potential replacements, but I still keep it and use it with a strap clamp to help contain the dust in use. I bought a Mockmill 200 to have more options from coarse to fine textured flour, and to see if the stone milling would truly be cooler. I really do enjoy the different textures, quieter function (remember that the dB scale is logarithmic so 110 is way louder than 100), and that it is easy to keep it set up on my encounter without taking up too much space. I gave away the Nutrimill Plus: I found the set up & cleaning just a bit more than either of the other machines, its large size harder to store, and it had more difficulty with both very small and very large grains (e.g., whole corn and teff). Still, especially for someone who lives in an apartment, it might be an excellent choice because neighbors have ears. I have also used a Wonder Junior Deluxe hand mill, which I still use to get some very coarse grind that is almost closer to a longer or steel cut texture for some flatbreads, where that course grain adds flavor and helps control the thickness as I am rolling that though out. It takes too much time and muscle power to get truly fine flower that I want for most of my baking, however, and it does not permit milling in the spices with the same evenly distributed result I get from the kitchenetics or Mock Mills. So it mostly sits in the back of the cabinet until I am ready to make those particular flat breads or crackers. All of these mills do fine with your basic wheats (hard, soft, einkorn, emmer, spelt, durum, kamut, farro); rices; oats; rye; barley. As I noted above, the Nutrimill had difficulty with whole corn, but the others do not. They generally are fine also with mixes that include millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, sorghum and teff; but chia and flax will gum them up if used at more than about 5% concentration because they are too oily. I do like to add flax and Chia to many recipes at low concentration, because of their high omega-3 content obtained without resorting to strip-mining the oceans, and because they are useful binders for gluten-free baked goods without needing to resort to xanthan gum. Plus they add nuttiness that is often quite nice. But, as mentioned above, these cannot be milled except as part of mix with wheat or other grains at very low percentage, because they gum up the mills (>5% in the Kitchenetics, >2-3% in the Mockmill). I get around this by using a coffee grinder/spice mill which is reserved only for seeds and spices, so it does not make everything taste like coffee. I cannot get the flex and Chia as fine as the impact mill, but I can use them at larger proportion if I mill them separately. (my take) SOURDOUGH STARTER & THE PINEAPPLE JUICE SOLUTION Regarding pineapple juice and sourdough starters, I buy the small six-packs of pineapple juice and start new starters often, because I don't bake that much bread, and mine sometimes sadly becomes moldy when I neglect it a bit too much. It can be quicker to make a new one than try to rehabilitate a neglected one when I use Peter' Reinhart's guide in his Whole Wheat Breads book & pineapple juice. That said, I can keep a starter going for ages if I store it as a chunk of fairly dry dough buried in flour in my chinese crock in my fridge. It's when I am building it up for a recipe and don't use all of it and don't take the time to prep that dry little ball of it and it sits as a very wet starter for months that it gets sad. As it happens, I've got a phase 4 starter in the crock and today I'll bake with it for the first time, some crackers and flatbreads. I love these Chinese crocks, because they seal just enough to keep my cats out of it when it's on the counter, and refrigerator odors out when it's in the fridge, but let the gases out. I use the little crock (about 3 cups volume) for getting it started, and storing 'dry'' starter in the fridge; the big crock is for feeding/expanding higher volumes without overflow. When I can figure out how to do it, I'll post Wheat to Eat here with all the images but right now it's time to get off my duff and go prepare the stuffing.
  6. The plan was to prepare this for a potluck party, with no concern for leftovers past about 36 hours. But it's another good point.
  7. Thank you, this is exactly what I was groping towards asking. I think I have figured out a way to test this with much smaller batches as cupcakes, and will report back on how it goes.
  8. That sounds delicious. But I'd rather be lazy and 'bake it in' than to hollow out and keep it neat.
  9. Those look delicious! I am specifically asking about this curd, which I created as part of a different dish (a tart with apples and pomegranate curd), and I loved the pomegranate curd as written , with the richness of the eggs and the butter. What I am wondering about are the limits of a cornstarch/egg curd or custard being used to 'fill' a cake by being baked inside it--will they separate or liquify or come out (when cooled) as a thick sliceable center to a slice of cake? Today I went simple and prepared a pomegranate curd to pour over the pistachio cake. There's lots of room for improvement because I discovered that pomegranate molasses has too strong of a 'cooked' flavor already to substitute for pomegranate juice, although the intensification of the pomegranate flavor was pleasing against the relatively bland cake. I think the way to go for practice is small-batch cupcakes with dollops of filling to see how each filling is affected by being 'baked in'. Walk before I run....
  10. I'm a subscriber so can get behind the paywall, sort of.....they want me to pay even more for access to their back recipes. But I can see the recipe above, and it's about altering a bit of the batter, which is another way to approach the issue: I could take the base cake batter and mix a portion of it with pomegranate molasses and swirl that in, which would get a lot of the same flavor elements, but not the curd texture I'm dreaming about.
  11. I remember making bundt cakes with 'baked-in' filling, and now I wonder: would a basic fruit curd stand up to being baked in the middle of a bundt cake without horrible texture fail? Could something like this basic curd work, chilled enough to allow it to be applied with a pastry bag over the half-filled bundt cake batter, and topped with more batter? Dreaming now of a pistachio cake with pomegranate filling, but thinking about other combinaions as well--what are the key characteristics required in a 'bake-in' filling? 2/3 cup sugar 2 T cornstarch 1 cup pomegranate juice 1/4 cup lemon juice 5 egg yolks, whisked together 1/3 cup butter, cut into chunks Stirred the sugar, cornstarch and juices together until there were no lumps, then brought it to about 160 degrees. Gradually added it to the whisked eggs, returned to heat, brought to near boil so the cornstarch thickened, then strained it into a bowl, whisked in the butter, and poured into serving dishes to chill.
  12. About the same time as I wrote here, I wrote to ModernistBread at Modernistcuisine.com with the same original question, and have not heard a peep from them. I did find this page (Home Canned Cake from HealthyCanning.com) full of useful information, basically coming down on the side of, 'don't do it', because bread is such a great vehicle for botulism. And they mentioned a couple of recipes which were reportedly promoted around or after WWII and formulated to have a safe pH when the recipes were followed precisely, which fits with the article I found traces of but haven't gotten my hands on yet. Another reference is a PDF of a Food Fact Safety Sheet from Utah State University Extension that also unequivocally recommends against canning bread. I'm still curious about preparing bread in the pressure cooker, because I love the pressure cooker, but until I know more, I certainly won't be attempting to keep the result long-term at room temperature.
  13. So air tight, rather than true vacuum? I'd really like to see them address this in the book or on their blog, because they've got the equipment to test it. I've found articles about military standards for canned bread from the 50s that include pH requirements for the finished products, and an reference to an article from Journal of Food Science where this was tested by adding Clostridium to bread being canned or after canning but the limited information in the reference doesn't confirm how it was tested and whether spores survived and grew. I won't have a chance to get to the library to get my hands on the article for some weeks yet, unfortunately.
  14. Before I go too far down the rabbit hole of canned bread.....wondering about the safety of it. I've read the sections in volume 3 about pressure cooking loaves, and the section about canned breads, both baked in canning jars and pressure canned in the jars, but there is only one or two sentences about the safety of doing so, which describes how the anaerobic environment in the jar, if it properly vacuum seals during the process, keeps molds from growing. But: what about botulism? Thinking here about the meticulous care required when working with low-acid foods and canning safety--things cut to the exactly the right dimensions, not substituting things that might be denser/have different heat capacities, to make sure every bit of what is in the jar gets to 240 or 250 degrees to kill the botulism spores. Bread is normally baked to much lower internal temperatures, and often with inclusions like fruit and nuts that would be verboten to just add to a recipe for soup or stew to be canned. Is any yeasted dough effectively acid enough to be protective? What about nuts? I will start as close to one of their recipes as I can stand, of course, milling the flour to match their recommended flours as best I can, but will be very cautious with the inclusions to start.
  15. And....wahoo! I picked the right volumes when I put in my hold for MB at the library--for odd reasons I could only reserve 3 at once via a telephone hold. I stopped by the central library to try to grab the other volumes, but the librarian and I couldn't find them even though they were listed as 'on the shelf'. So.....I only have 3, and volume 3, techniques and equipment, has the section on pressure canning bread. What to make, what to make, what to make....all those wide-mouth little canning jars would love to be filled with cheese rolls, or dried fruit sweet rolls, apple-pepper-cheddar bread, heh heh heh.
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