Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bulgur Wheat Bread #BreadBakers

A tender loaf with a welcome bit of nutty chewiness from the bulgur wheat, this yeast bread has a soft crust and slices up beautifully.

As much as my grandmothers loved cooking and even baking, I don’t remember either of them ever baking bread. The French influence in our Louisiana heritage did mean that bread was important; you just bought it at a bakery. From the time I was tiny my mom told me stories of when she was younger and she would bring a stick of butter along to the bakery to pick up a fresh hot loaf just so she could butter the bread and eat it immediately in the car. Who wants to wait? The only bread I remember in our house when I was growing up was white sandwich bread and French bread – still white inside – preferably baked by the southern Louisiana institutions of Evangeline Maid in Lafayette and LeJeune’s in Jeanerette, respectively. Even today, my mom’s freezer in Houston usually has a loaf or two of LeJeune’s delicious French bread, still made by hand, for when she needs a bread and butter fix.

When I started dating my husband and was introduced to his dad and stepmom, I finally met a woman who baked bread weekly, more often that that, in fact, if she had bread loving visitors (like us!) because her home-baked bread was the centerpiece of every lunch, surrounded by cheese and sliced meat and condiments and salad. And breakfast, more often than not, included toast. I wrote at length about Fiona’s wonderful bread for the inaugural post of Bread Bakers exactly one year ago, so I won’t go into it again here, except to say that hers was also the first time I remember eating and loving whole wheat bread instead of white. She started me on the road to baking my own bread and even buying whole grain breads. They are just so much more flavorful! (Although it's still hard to beat a pimento cheese sandwich on Evangeline Maid.)

This month our Bread Bakers challenge to bake bread with whole grains was set by our able host of Cali’s Cuisine. I decided to kick mine up a notch by adding bulgur wheat as well. It was a very good decision. This recipe, adapted from one in the New York Times online, makes two nutty deliciously healthy loaves and freezes beautifully.

N.B. You'll need three and a half hours of resting or rising time, in addition to almost one hour baking so start early in your day!

Ingredients - for two standard loaves
For the sponge:
2 packets active dry yeast (1/2 oz or 14g total)
3 cups or 710ml warm water
3 tablespoons mild honey
1 cup or 200g coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups or 250g strong white bread flour
1 cup or 120g wholemeal bread flour

For the bread dough:
1 bread sponge recipe (see above)
1/4 cup or 60ml canola oil, plus a little extra for oiling bowl and baking pans
1 scant tablespoon salt
2 cups or 240g wholemeal bread flour, plus additional as necessary for kneading

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and honey, and stir until dissolved. Leave it for a couple of minutes to make sure that the yeast is reacting and making some small bubbles before proceeding.

Add in the bulgur wheat and leave to rest again for another five or so minutes.

Now whisk in the white bread flour and the wholemeal bread flour one cup at a time. Keep stirring or whisking for at least two minutes after all three cups have been added. You'll end up with quite a thick batter.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave to rest in a warm spot for one hour. It should bubble up quite dramatically.

Fold the oil into the sponge along with the salt and then fold in one cup of the wholemeal bread flour.

Sprinkle your clean work surface with flour from the second cup of wholemeal bread flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl.

Here’s where it gets sticky. I found that using a stainless steel dough scraper really helped with this part of the process.

Sprinkle the dough with more wholemeal bread flour. Use your scraper to turn and fold and “knead” the dough, until the last of the cup has been added.

Keep folding and kneading for about 10 minutes, adding just a little more flour as needed, until the dough springs back when you press it with a finger. It will still be quite sticky.

Wash out your bowl and grease the inside with a little canola oil.

Scrape the dough into the bowl and turn it over to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl again with cling film and leave in a warm place for one hour.

Punch the dough down, cover it again and leave to rise for another hour.

Grease two bread loaf pans. Divide the dough into two equal parts and place them in the greased pans. Sprinkle with some wholemeal bread flour and put them in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C at some point in that 30 minutes. Mine takes forever to get to temperature so I start about 10 minutes in. You do what you need to do.

When your 30 minutes are up and your oven is preheated properly, cut some quick slashes in the dough with a very sharp implement.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F or 88°C on an instant read thermometer or the top is golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.


More whole grain goodness from my fellow Bread Bakers:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.


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