Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bread Machine Loaf With Soaked Grains

I'm sharing today an update on our new way of eating.  We haven't made any major changes, but one of the things I am trying out for the family is a different way of preparing our bread.  I nearly always make our bread, and use several different recipes.  Some are made by hand from scratch using fresh yeast.  Others are not yeasted, and can be baked and ready to eat in less than an hour from start to finish.  But most often, I use my trusty, very ancient bread making machine.  It is so handy to have a bread machine - it takes all the work out of making a lovely home-made loaf, but they taste just as delicious.  And now, I've found a way to make them taste even more scrummy - and better for us!

The idea behind pre-soaking the grains you use for baking is that by so doing, some of the proteins in the grain and broken down, and in addition, extra nutrients are released during the soaking, which makes them easier for us to absorb when we eat the final product.  There are many methods of pre-soaking.  I decided to start simple, and see how we got on.  The picture above is of the result!

This was baked in my bread machine using the basic loaf programme.  It made a delicious wholegrain loaf that has a really crisp, crunchy crust, and a good, quite dense, but not heavy crumb - nicer than the usual crumb that I get from machine-baked bread, which can be a little cakey in texture.  We all loved it!

All I did was this ...

Several hours before you want to bake the bread, prepare the mixture by placing into the bread machine baking pan the following ...

1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (this adds the acidic element that is necessary for pre-soaking)
1 teaspoon sugar (I don't like to add sugar to bread if I am making it by hand from scratch, but in the bread machine, I get a better rise if I use sugar.  I don't know why this is.  I prefer to use brown sugar for wholegrain loaves).
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons dried milk powder (this again is necessary to improve the texture of bread machine loaves)
3 cups wholegrain flour
1 1/8 teaspoons dried yeast

Simply place all the ingredients except the yeast into the pan, then, instead of leaving them to sit in the order that you added them, mix them together well using a wooden spoon (don't use a metal spoon or you could damage the lining of the baking pan).  It is necessary to do this in the pan, rather than in a separate bowl first, because if you do it in any other receptacle before transferring it to the baking pan, there will be some of the recipe left still sticking to the sides of the bowl, which will alter the quantity needed in the pan for the loaf to bake properly.

Now put the pan into the breadmaker, and add the yeast.  Don't stir this in (it will start to prove if you do.  It will prove a little anyway, just sitting on top of the damp mixture, but don't worry too much about that.  It can prove slowly all day without causing any problems - as in the picture above!).

Set the bread machine timer to start baking about 8 hours after you put the mixture into the machine.  If you don't have a timer switch on your breadmaker, it doesn't matter.  Just leave the pan with the mixture in it sitting in the machine as described, and then just switch it on when you are ready to bake.  The only important thing is that you allow the mixture to sit for a good few hours before baking it.

I haven't yet tried leaving it any longer than this, but I don't think I need to!  Already we can tell the difference between bread prepared in this way, compared with the way it is usually made.  It has a much pleasanter taste and texture.  And really, it involves no extra work, just a little planning ahead.  Why not have a go and see for yourself - we were so surprised that something so simple could make so much difference!

(Homeschooling Hints will return next week ...)