This post is dedicated to my dear friend, to inspire (and tease) her as she starts her own whole wheat bread adventure. ;)
Smells so gooood
Bread making is something I learned back when I was eleven, interestingly enough it was my Dad who first showed me the basics. I remember one Sunday afternoon we took over the kitchen and made a few loaves, using up all the flour in the house and making a mess in the process. I’ve been making bread on and off ever since.
My stand-by recipe makes four loaves, which fits nicely in the oven and my wonderful Bosh mixer. Unfortunately four loaves doesn’t last long in this large of a family. So for a while I would spend an afternoon every other week or so making twelve loaves to restock our freezer supply. Then three years ago I had an opportunity to set up a table at a local festival to sell crafts, including my bread. After some thought and working out a system, I got up early the day before and had 52 loaves by 5 o’clock that night. Whew! Now that is more like it. I sold about half of the loaves and the rest my family was happy to eat for me. Which meant I didn’t have to make more for quite some time. Yay!
A few weeks ago I decided to give this mega baking another try. It had been a long time since I had made any bread and there was now extra room in the freezers. Didn’t even get started ’till almost 9am, but thanks to some fine tuning to the assembly line, the last loaf was out of the oven at 4pm on the dot and I was wore out but feeling very productive.
Yummy looking, isn’t it?
My assembly line method is pretty simple; I line up one bowl each for the number of batches being made, in this case twelve (one went straight in the mixer) and measure out the olive oil, wheat gluten, dough enhancer, honey and salt. This way when it’s time to start the next batch all I have to do is add a bowlful in with the water, flour, eggs and yeast. I prefer not to add the water and eggs in ahead of time since I like the water fairly warm and don’t want the eggs to sit out all day. The yeast of course is added only when the batch is under way to maximize it’s rising power. After the bread has kneaded for a while, it’s turned out into a large bowl to rise, freeing the mixer for the next batch.
Almost done rising, which is good since it would be spilling over soon….
Here you can see this batch is almost ready to be shaped into loaves. On the left behind the bowl is our trusty wheat grinder which can grind up to 12 cups of wheat berries which is just over a batch’s worth of flour. When I first started using fresh ground flour, it took me almost a year to get a nice tall fluffy loaf consistently instead of heavy squaty things. But boy was it totally worth it! The difference in flavor and texture of fresh ground bread versus white flour is pretty extreme.
Ready to shape into loaves
Once the dough has reached the right height, it gets turned out onto a large cutting board to be divided and shaped. I have eight bread pans so, if I can keep the timing right, there is always a batch in the mixer, one in the bowl rising, one rising in pans and another in the oven. Unfortunately I got caught up in everything (and had messy hands most of the time) so there is no pictures of the rising loaves. But I did get a picture of this one loaf that got a bit too tall and close to the element in the oven, making a burn mark that strangely resembles a backwards Gandalf rune from Lord of the Rings. Yep, I’m nerdy.
The Gandalf Loaf
Here they all are at the end of the day, bagged and ready to be frozen.
51 loaves of bread – we had to eat one while it was still hot, of course!
So there you have it, bread baking on a larger scale. In the process I went though almost an entire 50 lbs sack of wheat berries, one and a half things of Sam’s honey, and surprisingly a lot of salt. Suppose it adds up, I was scrambling to have enough for the last batch. But now we have bread to last a good long time, though now I’m hearing complaints there is no room for anything else in the freezer…….
Someone just loves it when I get out the camera……..