Showing posts with label wheat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wheat. Show all posts

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


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fiona’s Wonderful Bread #BreadBakers

This classic wheat bread recipe makes two loaves of some of the best sandwich bread I’ve ever tasted. Approach it with confidence and it won’t let you down. 

Our new bread baking group
My friend, Renee and I have created a new blog group for bread bakers called, ahem, Bread Bakers. Pretty catchy, huh? As host of our inaugural month, Renee chose the theme Favorite Breads, so I want to share one with you that is special to our family, along with some memories of the dear woman who baked it, week in and week out for as long as I knew her. Make sure to scroll on down to the bottom of this post for links to the rest of the Favorite Breads and information on how to join the group.

The back story
If you’ve been reading along here for a while, you might already know the story of how I met my husband’s lovely father and his delightful wife, back in 1985. It’s a good one and this special bread is even mentioned there. Go have a quick read. I’ll wait here.

For those of you who already know the story of my first private airplane ride,
here's a photo of the happy couple on one of their visits to our home in Paris.

Okay. I almost called this Fi-Fish Bread because Fi-Fish was her nickname and that is what we called the wonderful bread that Fiona made with such ease and, I would even say, nonchalance. In a world where folks fret over baking with yeast, she made it look effortless. But, so as not to confuse you, my lovely readers, with visions of fishy bread, I decided to go with the title I put on the top of the hand scribbled notes, from when I watched and learned how to make it. Little did I know at the time, but that would be the last time I would see Fiona alive or taste her wonderful bread made by her own hands. So, let me add some advice here: Get that special family recipe! Get it now. We never know what the future holds.

As you can see, it's been used often through the years. This is the first time I've
actually quantified the amount of salt and sugar though. 

Fiona was a survivor. She’d been through the breast cancer wringer: Mastectomy, chemo and rough recovery. With her quick wit, positive outlook and indomitable spirit, we were pretty sure she could beat anything. But, in 2001, after a fabulous spring break week entertaining us all, she went in to the doctor to discuss a mass she’d felt in her abdomen, saying, “Can we get this taken care of before bikini season?” Classic Fiona. We had plans to meet again in the Channel Islands during the summer but, with the new chemo regime, she was unable to travel. We were told she was doing great. Turns out liver cancer is not so easily dislodged. We lost her in October that very same year, and my father-in-law died, one short but traumatic month later, of a broken heart.

Every time I make Fiona’s wonderful bread, I am reminded of the great times, sitting out on their balcony in Freeport, Grand Bahama, where a picnic lunch was always served in the fresh ocean breeze: An assortment of cheeses, green salad with Fiona's homemade vinaigrette, ripe tomato wedges and leftover cold beef or lamb roast, certainly some Branston Pickle, all with thin slices of Fi-Fish bread and chilled white wine. It is the perfect bread and those were perfect lunches.

I miss them. I miss it all.


2 1/4 cups or 530ml very warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups or 410g whole wheat flour
2 cups or 250g strong bread flour
One palm full or 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
One palm full or 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 packets Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast (1/2 oz or 14g total)

N.B.: The cup to gram converter I usually use at this link here, says that one cup of wheat flour is only 120g. I actually weighed mine and it was 137g so that is the measure I have used in the ingredients list. You can adjust the amount of bread flour you add to compensate. If the dough is starting to look dry, stop before you put it all in. If your dough is too sticky, add a little more than the prescribed amount.

Mix two of the cups or 275g brown flour with the salt, sugar and yeast, in a large mixing bowl and add in the warm water with the oil.

Mix well.

Add in the last of the brown flour and mix again.

Now add the bread flour in gradually, mixing thoroughly as you go. (See note above.) Just let the machine turn as you drop it in by spoonfuls, scraping the bowl down occasionally as you go.

Knead for several minutes on a floured surface, adding a bit more bread flour if necessary.

Put it in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to one hour. Fiona always put hers on top of the water heater in a little cupboard off the kitchen.

I tried to take the two photos at the same distance from the bowl so you could see how much this expanded!

Meanwhile, grease two loaf pans.

Punch the dough down and knead it again briefly.

Cut it the ball in two and roll each half into sausages. Tuck the ends under and place in the greased bread pans, tucked ends under and seam side down.

Before rising

Sprinkle flour on top and cover with a damp tea cloth. Let rise for 40 minutes in a warm place.

After rising

When the time is almost up, preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Bake the loaves in your preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Just out of the oven!

Tip the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool.



First some thank yous!
Since this is our first group post, let me add a plug in for - and a thank you to - the designer of our Bread Baker logo, Dai Foldes. See more of his beautiful work at

Many thanks to Renee from Magnolia Days for hosting this inaugural month of Bread Bakers! And thank you to our dozen bakers this month. You all jumped on board with such enthusiasm that it's been quite contagious! I hope all of your favorite breads will inspire everyone to get into the kitchen and bake!

And now THE LIST!

About 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.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this 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 me an email with your blog URL to

Here's to more fresh bread in months to come!