July 05, 2006

Bread Baking 101 - Kinds of Wheat

In beginning my education about milling grain and baking bread I have learned about the differences in the kinds of wheat available. If you are baking bread from flour you buy in a store then they have pretty much done the work for you. They put blend the different kinds to make pastry flour, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and cake flour. For those who mill their own there are a few things you need to know.

Two basic kinds of wheat

1. Soft Wheat - this is the flour that is milled for any of your sweet quick breads, cookies, pastries, etc... You do not use yeast with this kind of flour by itself. Soft Wheat is typically a "southern" grain. It has been used in southern kitchens for hundreds of years. This would explain why so many more quick breads were baked in the south such as your typical biscuits, pancakes and cornbreads. They would all use more of the soft wheat to get a good texture.

2. Hard Wheat - This is the kind of flour used in yeast breads. There are two basic varieties of this kind of wheat, too. There is Hard White Wheat and Hard Red Wheat. I use mostly the Hard White for everyday baking. The Hard Red is for a more dark bread and many people really like the darker but for my children's sake I do not make the darker bread often because they are just getting used to the other. This is more of "northern" grain and was used solely for yeast breads. I still make "sweet breads" using this but they are all yeast breads such as cinnamon rolls and braids. These are ALWAYS a family favorite!

If you are just beginning, I would suggest that you do not deviate from using these two kinds as you experiment with your bread baking. Get these under your belt before you begin adding new varieties of grain to your baking.

A list of some other possibilities for your use could include but are not limited to:

Kamut

7Grain

Rice

Rye

Millet

Barley

Dried corn for cornmeal

Dried beans for Ezekial Bread

These are in my kitchen and I use them for a multigrain bread from time to time.

My friend Marcia, who teaches our bread workshops, says that you should have three basic recipes that you perfect and everything else pretty much works off of these three.

The first one is a basic wheat bread recipe - This is the recipe we use for our everyday bread for sandwiches and with soups and salads for a meal.

The second one is a good basic multigrain bread - this is more Dan's favorite kind of bread because it uses a variety of grains, nuts and seeds and he LOVES this stuff!

The third is a good light roll recipe - This is the recipe that I use for all my pizza dough, dinner rolls, hamburger and hotdog buns, and sweet and savory braids. This is lighter and I use potato flakes and egg for a more soft and fluffy texture (more on all of this later). This one is MY favorite!

I also use a 7Grain variety to make waffles, pancakes and muffins. I use soft white in these things, too.

The next few post will be recipes to get you started but give me some time to type them into the computer for you guys. Thanks for being patient with me. LOL

In the meantime you can read more on bread baking at Urban Pioneer. She is doing some bread posts, too and they are very informative.

Blessings!!

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