I’ve been researching flour for the next Bread Facts page and I’ve discovered a lot of people use fresh wheat. I actually never thought about that but now that baking has become easier, I’d like to play with the ingredients.
So I bought a 25 lbs bag of fresh wheat from an organic farm for cheap and kept a jar upstairs, maybe 3 lbs or so. The rest I separated in mylar bags, added some oxygen tablets to suck out the oxygen and keep bugs away; and with that, my wheat will last for years! Though I think I’ll be using it long before then..
Next step was to grind these little wheat berries. Unfortunately I discovered that our beer grinders do not like to grind flour, but just crack grain. I relinquished myself to the coffee grinder. I can grind about a cup in half an hour. It’s tricky. It grinds it fine but leaves bits, then I have to sift the flour through a little tea sieve, and put back the large bits in the coffee grinder. But even at the end, there’s still some large bits left. I toss those into the bread.
I have a couple of experiments with the fresh wheat I’d like to try. The first experiment I’ve done, using fresh wheat within 24 hours of grinding.
And third, I’d like to grind some wheat and leave it in the fridge for 2 weeks, stirring it everyday to aerate it. This supposedly oxidizes the flour and strengthens gluten.
I have to say, fresh wheat bread tastes way better than the old whole wheat bread you get at the store. It’s slightly nutty and no bitterness.
Here’s the recipe! Techniques adapted from Tartine.
Fresh Wheat Bread
1 cup finely ground fresh flour
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup leaven
The leaven I used 1/3 cup bread flour + 1/3 cup warm water and a tablespoon of barm (yeast from beer brewing).
When the leaven passes the float test, stir it into the cup of warm water in a big bowl.
After the rest, I added the little bits of wheat from the bottom of the grinder and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of spent grain if wanted. You can add anything at this point. Ground flax and flax seeds are good too! Just remember, you need to grind the flax if you want those good omegas, the whole seeds will go right through you.
Stretch and Fold every 30 min for 3 1/2 hours. I found if I was really gentle, it had a hard time developing the gluten. Give it a couple of smacks. Once it starts to feel airy and puffy, then be gentle.
Pop it in the fridge for overnight rising. I shape it the next day out of the fridge because it’s so much easier. But if you have enough time for the same day, let it rise in the bowl for 3-4 hours then shape it. If it pancakes, you may have to knead it more, then shape it again.
Shape it into a boule, giving the surface some tension and place on a floured parchment paper. Then let it sit for about 40min while the combo cooker is heating up in the oven at 500°F. Let the combo cooker heat up for at least 20min.
Take out the shallow pan using long gloves (don’t want to burn yourself!) and place the bread dough with the parchment paper into the pan. Slash a couple of lines on top with a sharp knife to let some energy escape while baking.
Bake for 20min then take the top pan off.
Try not to eat the whole thing. I know it’s hard.