Forget everything I’ve ever said about whole wheat breads! Cook some rice (any type of rice except “wild rice” – which isn’t really a grain at all. It’s a nut.) And put it in a blender until it’s just rather dry mush, and let’s start making some whole wheat bread!
My pastor loaned me the most marvelous book, A History of English Bread and Yeast Cookery, by Elizabeth Davis. It’s a real history – she sites her sources! And there aren’t recipes such as most people are used to following (though there are a few, mostly post 1800.) But the information in the book is (for me, at least) a total joy, and I simply couldn’t wait to try some out some of my new found knowledge. I hardly know where to start. I mean, there are over 100 ways to “make” yeast… But that will take time. But my frustration with whole wheat breads is over. It was just one paragraph. Basically, potatoes and “pease” fail as a leaven helpers because of the amount of fiber already in the flour but rice works very well. So, of course, I had to try it!
This recipe make 2 dinner size loaves.
24 hours before you intend to bake, feed your sourdough starter 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Stir until smooth and leave the crock on the counter overnight.
Cook enough rice to make about 2 cups of tasty rice, with nothing added to the rice (except, of course, water.) Then mash your rice. I mashed my rice with a potato masher, but a blender would work much better. (Unfortunately, my blender, like my electric mixer, requires my husband’s help to get out of the cupboard.) Hopefully you end up with 1 full cup of mashed rice. Drain off any excess water.
Combine and stir until very smooth:
1 cup cooked rice, well mashed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup warm whole milk
1 cup warm water
1 cup sourdough starter
4 tablespoons sweet cream butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
At this point you have a mixture that is similar to cake batter. Set it aside, covered, in a warm place, for one hour, stirring occasionally. (This was when I realized I hadn’t mashed my rice as well as I should have, since bits of rice kept floating to the top.)
Start by adding 2 more cups of whole wheat flour, then add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour at a time until your dough is stiff enough to knead. The amount of flour will vary. I used almost 5 cups. Once I started kneading, I could feel the difference between this bread and other whole wheat breads right away. Kneading in less than 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, the dough was barely sticky. Within another 5 minutes of kneading, and less than a few tablespoons of flour, it felt the same as a bread made with white flour – soft, very elastic, pliable and barely kissing my hand as I kneaded.
Put it in a well oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly, and let it rise. It took almost 3 hours rise in my rather cold kitchen.
Punch the dough down, knead it very briefly, divide it in half and put it in well oiled bread pans to rise again. Again, it needs to be covered while it rises, but this time it took about an hour to fully double in size.
Put a pan full of water in the bottom of your oven, and preheat the oven to 400° F. When the oven is full of steam, the oven is hot enough. Slash the bread, and bake it for about 35-45 minutes, or until the bread tests done. I didn’t brush the top of my bread with anything — clearly this was the wrong thing to do — but, hey, I’m still learning! (After baking, I did coat the top crust with butter. The crust was thin and tender, so I didn’t do so bad.)