The Simplest Bread Recipe in the World (And Enter to Win a Nutrimill Worth $264!)

The first time I had bread made by my friend Anne, I didn’t believe her when she said it was 100% whole wheat.

no-knead bread 3

I mean, I believed her, because why would she lie? But the bread looked and tasted so much like my grandma’s bread that was most definitely not whole wheat. And the only whole wheat breads I’d had before that were very dense and strong flavored. Anne’s whole wheat bread was light (both in color and in density) and had a most delicious flavor!

She told me that the “secret” to her delicious whole wheat bread was two things:

  1. She used white wheat instead of traditional red wheat flour. The white wheat gave the bread a milder flavor and light golden color. (Up until this conversation, I never even knew that there were different kinds of wheat. So what that I grew up in Kansas?)
  2. She bought wheat as a whole grain and ground it into flour herself. That made the flour much more delicious and healthy.

Well, blow me over. I’d never heard of such things. But I guarantee you right then and there that I wanted to buy some of that grain she was talking about and grind my own flour too.

I started saving up for a grain mill. (Anne recommended a Nutrimill.) When I finally had enough, I bought this beauty:

nutrimill 2

Since then, we’ve gone through thousands of pounds of wheat and made many wonderful whole grain baked goods. I prefer Hard White Wheat for yeast breads and Soft White Wheat for everything else. Everything tastes so much better with freshly ground flour! (Read more information about varieties of wheat and my preferences here.)

I grind more than wheat. My Nutrimill grinds corn, kamut, spelt, hulled buckwheat, oat groats, hully barley, triticalae (though I have no idea what that is!), rye, brown rice, wild rice, popcorn, sorghum, soybeans, split peas, and dried beans. Now that’s one amazing machine!

When I started making my own Whole Wheat Bread consistently, I used this recipe. It’s easy enough, but requires that I block out a few hours for mixing, kneading, rising, kneading, shaping, and baking. No biggie. It’s homemade bread. It’s delicious and worth the effort.

But then last year I discovered Stir-and-Pour Bread. I’m at a time in my life that if there’s a way to make anything simpler (without compromising flavor and health), I absolutely jump on it. The Stir-and-Pour Bread tastes just the same as my old Whole Wheat Bread recipe, but it’s practically effortless to make.

stir and pour sandwich 3

I’ll stick with the Stir-and-Pour Bread, loving the fact that all I have to do is stir the ingredients, let the dough rest, then pour it in a pan to bake. It takes very little time and practically no energy. Talk about SIMPLE!

This Stir-and-Pour Bread is a perfect compliment to the Simple Recipes I’ve shared lately and without a doubt, is wonderful to serve with most of our Simple Meals options!

Go get the Stir-and-Pour Bread Recipe!!

But first…how would you like a chance to win your very own Nutrimill? It’s worth $264 (but is on sale right now for just $219, so take note of that!). This appliance has saved us hundreds of dollars in the years we’ve had it (actually, probably  more like thousands at this point), so it is well worth the investment. Put it on your list. Ask for one for Christmas. And do me a favor. Buy it from Paula’s Bread.

Paula is a dear lady, running a small but thriving online business. I’ve been working with her for years and years. Her price is just as good (if not better) than her bigger competition, and what she offers in customer service can’t be matched. You will love working with Paula!

Let’s all give Paula a round of applause because she’s the one giving away a Nutrimill this week. Told you you’d love her!

So let’s review.

Stir and Pour Bread is amazingly simple and tasty (and did I mention that it’s so easy a 3-year old can make it?). This bread is a perfect supplement to many of our Simple Meals, and you definitely want to join all of us who are enjoying Simple Meals! Finally, Paula is giving away a Nutrimill. You will LOVE baking with freshly ground flour!

Enter to win a Nutrimill in the rafflecopter below! I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, November 9.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mockmill Grain Mill Kitchen-Aid Attachment Giveaway!

Who has a Kitchen Aid?

How nice are they?! I hear nothing but good about Kitchen Aids and guess who doesn’t have one? This girl.

No matter. I’ve gotten along just fine without one all these years and have plenty of other great kitchen appliances that make my life easier. But several months ago, Pleasant Hill Grain contacted me asking if I’d be interested in reviewing their Mockmill Grain Mill Attachment for a Kitchen Aid. I jumped on the idea knowing that many of you have Kitchen Aids and would want to know more about the grain mill attachment.

Enter: My friend Emily. She has a Kitchen Aid.

I gave her my Mockmill Grain Mill attachment in exchange for her experimentation and feedback on the product. How fun to bless a friend with a new toy and to bless you here to with a chance to win one!

Emily was very thorough in her experimentation. She tried both hard and soft wheat. She tested it against my flour that I grind with a Nutrimill. She did blind tests with her husband who didn’t know which flour was which. It was fun to read about her results!

mockmill grain mill

It sounds like overall, Emily liked the Mockmill.

There was a slight difference in the results of grain ground in a Nutrimill and grain ground in a Mockmill. The Mockmill grain was slightly more course – though barely noticeable – especially once stirred into a baked good. She noted that if you’re wanting to switch your family from white flour to whole wheat, you’d probably want to transition them slowly since going straight to whole wheat flour ground in a Mockmill is a pretty drastic change compared to white flour.

Emily read the instructions thoroughly before setting up the Mockmill so that she could use it correctly. She also was careful to clean it correctly – because there are right ways and wrong ways to do this and you never want to get water inside the body. As with anything, there is a learning curve to getting the Mockmill figured out, but it sounds like once you’ve read through the instructions and get used to setting this up and taking it apart, you can do it pretty easily.

Can’t eat wheat? No problem! The Mockmill also grinds non-oily grains, medium-sized beans, corn, and non-oily spices.

And now the fun part!

Pleasant Hill Grain is giving one of you a Mockmill Grain Mill!

If you have a Kitchen Aid and would like to win a free Mockmill Grain Mill, leave a comment here for a chance to win. Want additional chances?

  1. You must leave a comment on this blog post to be entered in the giveaway.
  2. Like Pleasant Hill Grain on Facebook and leave another comment on this post letting us know you did.
  3. Subscribe to our new Homemaker’s Savings Club and leave another comment on this post letting us know you did.

I’ll draw one random winner on Wednesday, March 30. Be sure to check out the Mockmill at Pleasant Hill Grain!

Switching to Whole Wheat Flour – making the transitions easier

This post was originally published in February, 2011.

simplesteps

I want to take some time to address some of the many whole wheat flour questions I receive from those of you making the switch from white to brown. So many of you email me to say “I wish we liked whole wheat flour…we just don’t. What ideas do you have?”  or “When I bake with whole wheat flour, my food often feels and tastes heavy and grainy. My kids won’t eat it.”  or “Laura, you look really good with flour in your hair, what’s your secret for getting it right there on your bangs?”  Just kidding about that last statement. Thankfully.

My suggestion (and hear me out on this, because I think I know all of your arguments) is…okay actually I have two suggestions.

Switch to Whole Wheat Flour

  1. Use a Grain Mill to grind fresh flour.
  2. Use Hard WHITE Wheat.

Here’s the deal:  I have NEVER liked store-bought whole wheat flour. Still don’t like it very much. The idea of switching to whole wheat flour to me was NOT appealing and I DIDN’T want to.

Until I had a piece of my friend’s bread made with freshly ground hard white wheat flour. That was all the evidence I needed.

I really didn’t believe her when she said that the bread was 100% whole wheat. It didn’t taste whole wheat. It didn’t look whole wheat. It didn’t feel whole wheat. Oh, but did it ever smell and taste good.

It was at that moment (after she answered more of my questions and after I talked it over with Matt of course) that I decided that I would save any extra money we had toward getting my own grain mill. The problem was…we had NO extra money to save toward a grain mill.

What I Did:

I started buying Hard White Wheat and letting my friend grind it for me. She was so sweet to do this, and it worked, but it certainly wasn’t convenient. I then began making these soft pretzels to sell at our local farmer’s market to save for my Nutrimill. It took just a few weeks before I had enough money saved. I ordered my Nutrimill right away! That was five years ago, and I’ve gotta say that saving up for and buying my Nutrimill was SUCH a great investment. My whole family thinks so.

Why Freshly Ground Flour Made from Hard White Wheat is Different (and tastes so good):

Well, fresh flour is…fresh. It’s amazing the difference in taste you’ll notice when you eat bread and other goodies made from flour that has been freshly ground. The whole wheat flour from the store is a little on the old side and is likely even to be rancid. It is usually often made from RED wheat.

Which leads me to my second point about why freshly ground flour from hard white wheat is different and tastes so good:  White wheat is lighter in texture and color than red wheat. Whole wheat flour made from Hard White Wheat produces lovely bread, tortillas, pizza crust, muffins…everything you need flour for.

The Question of the Hour:

But Laura, doesn’t white wheat turn into white flour?

Ah, I didn’t get that at first either. But NO, it absolutely doesn’t. Hard White Winter Wheat is simply a different variety of grain.  Hard Spring Red Wheat has the same nutritional value as Hard White Winter Wheat…but white wheat makes (in  my opinion) a nicer and more palatable whole wheat flour.

I think you’ll notice a big difference.

(White flour that you buy at the store, by the way, is flour made by sifting out the bran and germ after the grain has been ground. This was originally done to give it a longer shelf life. Now, unless otherwise noted, the white flour is bleached to make it whiter. Yum.)

What Do I Suggest?

See if you can find someone who has a grain mill and will let you try out freshly ground flour made from hard white wheat. Hey, if you come over to my place, I’ll let you try some of mine! (I may even share my secret of getting flour in my hair.)

If you like it (the freshly ground flour…not the flour in my hair), I recommend doing a little something to save up for a grain mill. I love my Nutrimill!!! Here’s a video of me showing how to use the Nutrimill. I love Paula’s Bread as your go-to source for purchasing a Nutrimill. She offers great prices and offers wonderful customer service.

And…you may want to look into this online Bread Class offered by Lori. She teaches you to use freshly ground flour to make a perfect loaf of bread…and other great baked goods too! It’s a very helpful class!

Lastly…I will recommend that if you just aren’t able to grind fresh flour right now, try to find store bought whole wheat flour made from white wheat, labeled, White Whole Wheat. King Arthur has a nice variety. It’s not quite the same (because it isn’t fresh), but it’s the best store-bought flour I’ve used.

Those of you who’ve been grinding your own flour…share what you love about it! How were you able to make the investment to get a grain mill? Which is your favorite grain mill and wheat to grind?

(You’ll find more posts I’ve written about grinding grain, where I recommend getting grain, which grain I recommend and ALL kinds of grainy questions answered in this section!)

Disclaimer:  No one here is going to force you to grind your own flour, eat white wheat or get flour in your hair. If you like flour make with red wheat, enjoy! If you can’t afford a grain mill, this is not a guilt trip. I’m just answering many readers’ questions. Hopefully you all found it helpful. And hopefully you are much cleaner bakers than I am. Not only is there flour in my hair, it is also on my kitchen floor and counter tops.  I need to go clean my kitchen. 

What is Whole Wheat Pastry Flour? Where Do I Get It? How Do I Use It?

There’s this stuff called “whole wheat pastry flour” I keep talking about in my Low Sugar Treat baked goods. What in the world??

Never fear. I shall explain. You need to know this so that you can make this Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake. And probably for other reasons too.

All About Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

What is Pastry Flour?

First let me explain a little bit about different varieties of wheat so you can understand what makes pastry flour. There are other grains worth mentioning, but to keep things simple (I like simple), let’s just stick to what is most commonly used and what I like best. (Not that it’s all about me and my preferences, but I am the one writing this so…)

Hard Red Wheat

This is most commonly used in store-bought breads. It has a high protein content and a heavier texture and flavor. When you purchase “Whole Wheat Flour” at the store, you are most likely getting flour ground from red wheat. This is all good, however, it is my least favorite flour to bake with and eat. My experience is that breads turn out too heavy and dense when made with red wheat.

Hard White Wheat

I prefer the hard white variety of grain over red wheat a million times over. It is slightly lower in protein, but still offers all the goodness and nutrition of whole grain with a lighter taste and texture. Don’t let the word “white” throw you off here. It’s not white flour – it is a white wheat grain used which makes a delicious whole wheat flour. I use this almost exclusively in my kitchen. Or at least I did…

Soft White Wheat

This is my new love. Soft wheat has a low protein content, making it light and fluffy and absolutely wonderful to work with. It is this soft wheat that becomes Whole Wheat Pastry Flour when ground. Aha! Now we know what pastry flour is.

Take a look at the following picture, although it’s a little bit tough to see the difference in the grains of wheat. On the right are “soft wheat berries” and on the left are “hard wheat berries.”

hard wheat soft wheat

The soft wheat berries are a bit more rounded whereas the hard wheat berries are more flat and pokey. (I excel in the use of adjectives.)

How to Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

This is very important! While soft wheat produces a pastry flour that looks and acts like all-purpose flour in many ways, we cannot use soft wheat in any recipes that include yeast because it does not contain enough gluten. Ground soft wheat (pastry flour) can only be used in non-yeast recipes like muffins, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes, and cookies.

But let me tell you what I’m learning! Grinding soft wheat into whole wheat pastry flour for use in non-yeast goodies is fantastic! Hard wheat can be used in any recipe – yeast or no. But soft wheat (pastry flour) helps cakes and muffins bake up softer and lighter.

Lookie. Here’s my freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour.
Doesn’t it make you want to bake a cake?
(Scroll through these recipes for low sugar cake recipes.)

Pastry Flour 3

Where Can You Get Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?

Well, you can buy some Soft White Wheat Berries and grind your own if you have a grain mill. (I have a Nutrimill.)

Or, you can purchase ready-made whole wheat pastry flour from Amazon or Vitacost (learn how to get $10 off your first Vitacost order here). You can order some through a health food co-op like Azure Standard or another one you are a part of. And while I haven’t looked and don’t have one close-by, I would imagine that stores like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers carries it.

So Let’s Review

Hard wheat makes regular whole wheat flour which can be used in ANY whole wheat flour recipe.

Soft wheat makes whole wheat pastry flour which can only be used in non-yeast recipes like muffins, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes, and cookies.

You can keep it simple and use regular whole wheat flour for all of your baking needs. Or you can use pastry flour for your non-yeast baking for a lighter, fluffier baked good, then use regular whole wheat flour for yeast breads.

For more information about flour, grain, and varieties of wheat, you may want to look through all of my posts on Grains and Grain Mills.

What is your favorite flour to use in baking? Do you use a variety or stick to one kind?

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts

After months of trial, illness, starvation, exhaustion, and many other forms of misery (encouraging post so far, Laura) – the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags came together for a great feast on what is now known as The First Thanksgiving. These incredible people had much to celebrate, no doubt.

On their table there was an abundance of lobster, rabbit, chicken, squash, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, radishes, and cabbage – all of the traditional foods you and I always serve to our families on Thanksgiving, right? (I always tear up a little during the carving of our traditional Thanksgiving Lobster.)

Quick question: How did the above First Thanksgiving menu give way to boxed stuffing and canned cranberry sauce that plops out onto a plate? Don’t answer that. But what I do what to know is this:  Where have these Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts been all my life? These need to be added to everyone’s Thanksgiving menu: turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, relish tray, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls with butter, and a big, huge platter of Pumpkin Donuts. Oh, and don’t forget the Lobster.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts with Glaze

These Pumpkin Donuts scream, “Fall is here! Be thankful! Inhale deeply the scent of cinnamon spice! Eat me already!”  This is a fall treat that ranks right up there with all things amazing. This donut recipe stirs up quickly, rolls out easily, and fries up into fantastic goodies that might make you pass out. They are great with a cup of coffee or apple cider.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts (adapted from this recipe)Yum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts
 
Author:
Serves: 15-20
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • Oil for frying (I recommend coconut oil or palm shortening for healthy frying)
  • GLAZE:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (I use unbleached powdered sugar)
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Stir together whole wheat flour, baking powder, sea salt, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and sucanat. Add melted butter, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and pumpkin puree - mixing until all ingredients are well combined.
  2. Roll dough on a well-floured surface.
  3. Cut out donuts and donut holes (makes about 15-20 of each).
  4. Fry dough in hot oil for about 3 minutes or until donuts are golden brown.
  5. Whisk glaze ingredients together and drizzle over warm donuts before serving.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts

What are your family’s traditional Thanksgiving foods that are a little different from the norm?  I have to admit, not only have I never had a Thanksgiving Lobster on my table, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually eaten lobster, period. I’m a Kansas girl turned Nebraska girl. What can I say?

Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder Giveaway!

You wouldn’t be interested in another grain mill giveaway would you? Ah, well then, let’s do it!

Misty, a consultant with Shelf Reliance, has offered to give away a Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder – is she generous or what?! You’ll want to go read her site and learn all about what she has to offer. You may be especially interested to learn how you can put together 72 hour survival kits – very inspiring.

So, what is the Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder? It’s definitely not just for wheat, that’s for sure!  You’ll be able to grind whole wheat, rye, oats, rice, buckwheat, millet, corn, soybeans, barley, triticale and others. I don’t have personal experience with this variety of mill, but my research tells me that it is a high quality, efficient machine. I love freshly ground flour and have found that our baked goods taste wonderful and are much healthier!

If you haven’t started your journey toward baking with freshly ground grains, this is your opportunity to jump in! Thanks to Misty, one of you will be receiving this Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder in the mail some day very soon!!!

To enter this giveaway you must leave a comment on this post letting us know you’re interested in winning.

For additional entries, do any or all of the following, leaving a separate comment on this post for each of the items you have completed:

That’s up to five chances to win! I’ll draw one random winner on Wednesday, November 9, 2011. Be watching for a post sharing who the winner is – you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen!

What Kind of Wheat Flour is Best?

I get lots and lots of questions about which wheat flour I use and about which I feel is best for baking. I decided to take a few pictures to try and show you the differences and to explain my favorites.

As you can imagine, the grain and flour picture taking thing was fun. We all know that my fanciest and finest accessory is flour in my hair and on my jeans. This gave me opportunity to look my best at a soccer game Saturday afternoon. Yes, somehow I managed to get freshly ground flour at the bottom of my left pant leg by my shoe. It takes talent, people.

I’ve talked bunches about how I love grinding my flour in my Nutrimill.  You can read through all of the posts in my Grains and Grain Mills section to learn more about whether or not a grain mill saves money, which grain mills I prefer and how to grind flour in a grain mill.

There really is no comparison between store bought whole wheat flour and freshly ground whole wheat flour. I have found that all of my baked goods taste best when made with freshly ground hard white wheat. I also discovered, after I saved up and purchased a grain mill six years ago, that I made my money back on it within six months. It’s very cost effective to grind your own wheat, not to mention the fresher the flour, the more nutrients it contains.

If you still aren’t ready or able to buy a grain mill, I suggest that you try to find whole wheat flour at the store that is made from white wheat. I’m just starting to see this flour pop in up local stores, so this is encouraging. (Before, I only saw them if I went out of town to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.)  I’ve used and recommend King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour or better yet, try to find an organic variety like this one.

Okay, now a few pictures to show you some differences between red and white wheat, and the flour they each produce.

First, a lovely picture of wheat kernels (or berries). On the left you will see Hard Red Wheat – on the right you will see Hard White Wheat:

See, they are both whole wheat kernels, they are just a different variety. This should answer all those questions about whether white wheat is as healthy as red wheat. The answer is yes. They are both good for you. They are just different kinds of wheat. Red wheat produces a darker, heavier, stronger flavored flour. Some like it – I don’t prefer it. White wheat produces a much milder, easier to work with flour. In many recipes, when I use Hard White Wheat, it’s hard to tell that the baked good is even made with whole wheat flour. I love hard white wheat.

Next, I ground both some red wheat and some white wheat. It may be difficult to tell the difference in the two pictures that follow, but if you look real closely, I think you’ll see a difference.

First you will see a picture of my beloved hard white wheat flour. Notice that it is white in color with a few specks of light brown throughout. It almost looks like white flour, but nope – all of those wonderful nutrients are all still there in the flour.

Second, we have the Hard Red Wheat Flour. Do you see that the brown in this flour is darker and a little more reddish brown in color? This will produce a darker, whole wheat baked product. It’s still tasty and obviously still very good for you – just a little heavier tasting. I had happened upon a great deal on some red wheat, which is why I have any at all! I occasionally mix my red and white together to make it easier for our family to eat the red wheat.

One more thing:  You can also purchase Soft White Wheat. Once ground, this becomes “whole wheat pastry flour” which can be used in any baked good that does not require the use of yeast. You must use a hard grain for yeast breads. Pastry flour is great for muffins, cookies, quick breaks and cakes. However, since my hard white wheat still works fine for these products, I usually just use it for all of my wheat baking. It’s easier that way!

(You can read this post to learn great sources for purchasing grain.)

Your turn to share:  What’s your favorite kind of wheat flour? Have you taken the plunge to grind your own grain yet? Ever found yourself at a soccer game with flour on your pant leg?