I've always loved to cook. As time has gone on, I've really wanted to improve the range of what I can create. One thing that has always brought feelings of nostalgia is homemade bread. Bread is like an art form to me. I come from a heritage of great biscuit makers. My mom, my grandma, my great-grandma, etc. always had fresh, hot pans of homemade biscuits alongside the meals they served. Strangely enough, biscuits weren't a priority for me. Rather, I've always loved the idea of a soft, chewey white bread. Last week for Gideon's birthday I made a HUGE loaf of braided Challah bread. It was sweet, delicious, and gorgeous. I'm going to make that again soon and do an entirely separate post on that, so be on the lookout. I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo!
I have tried and true recipes for yeast rolls, beer bread, biscuits, Karavay, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, Challah, banana bread, pumpkin bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and wheat bread. All my recipes are available if you want them, and I hope to feature all of them sometime in the future. I've mastered most all of them except for the wheat bread. Quite by accident, I discovered that most breads can benefit from adding vital wheat gluten to the recipe. You can usually find it in health food stores and in the health food aisle in your grocery store (I got mine in the organic section at Kroger.) I found out what gluten was when my infant son was diagnosed with a gluten/wheat allergy--it's now gone thankfully! It provides the spongy, chewey texture to breads that make them so palatable. Two other things that I feel are crucial to perfect bread making are a kitchen-aid stand mixer, and bread flour.
The idea of eating a whole wheat rich diet is something that is necessary, but hard to do when most homemade wheat bread fall short in the texture department. Most get stiff and crumbly the day after baking. So, while I'm still at this roadblock of wheat bread, I'll continue to use a combination of bread flour and wheat flour, boosted with wheat gluten. Here is a perfect example of how I up the protein and fiber content of my favorite yeast roll recipe:
Wheat Yeast Rolls
2 cups lukewarm water
2 pkgs rapid rise yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup oil, any type
3-4 tbsp vital wheat gluten
3 cups wheat flour
3-4 cups bread flour
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar and mix well. Let it set for about 15 minutes or until it gets bubbly. Add the remaining ingredients and mix (I use my stand mixer) until a dough forms, and pulls away from the side of the bowl, adding extra flour until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. Cover the bowl and let it set for 1 hour. Grease an 11"x13" pan (you may need an additional pan since this is a big recipe). To make the rolls, pull off dough and form into 2" balls and line them in a greased pan, leaving about 2" between each roll to allow for rising. Gently press down on the rolls to flatten them slightly. Cover, and let them set for another 45 minutes. Bake them at 350F for 20-30 minutes. Once they come out of the oven, brush them lightly with butter; a light sprinkle of salt also makes them super delicious!
To make this a white bread recipe, simply substitue extra bread flour in place of the wheat flour, and leave out the gluten.
Enjoy and eat well!