The seeds of grasses such as wheat, rye, and barley are very hard and must be boiled in water for lengthy periods of time to be edible and for their nutrients to be bio-available. The grinding of these hard seeds into flour is another way to accomplish these ends. Our ancestors discovered this over 10,000 years ago when they took wheat and barley seeds and ground them into a coarse meal between two stones. This meal was mixed with water and cooked near a fire as flat bread or mush. By 1000 B.C. Egyptian millers were grinding grain between two flat millstones using large animals like oxen to rotate the top stone. The Romans, who were skilled builders, constructed mills powered by water wheels. In parts of northern Europe windmills were used to grind grain into flour by the Middle Ages. During the Industrial Era of the late nineteenth century, industrial flour mills were constructed which replaced the millstones used for grinding with steel rollers. These flour mills could produce large quantities of flour with the bran and germ of the wheat removed.
2 cps. lukewarm (105-115oF) water
1-1/4 tsp. dry yeast
3 Tbs. honey
4-3/4 cps. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. gr. coriander
2 Tbs. oil
1 cp. raisins
- Proofing the Yeast: Pour the lukewarm water into a bowl, sprinkle the dry yeast on the water, add the honey, and stir until dissolved. Wait 8-10 minutes until the yeast begins to grow and forms a tan colored foam
- Mixing the Dough: Add 2 cps. whole wheat flour to the water and stir for 3-4 minutes to form a homogenous batter and begin working the gluten out of the flour. Add more flour on top of the batter and place the salt, cinnamon, coriander, raisins, and oil on the dry flour, mixing this into the batter. Continue adding the rest of the wheat flour, reserving 1/2 cup for kneading and mix to form a stiff dough.
- Kneading the Dough: Dump the dough in the bowl onto a floured work surface. By pushing on the dough with both hands, form the dough into a ball and incorporate the fragments and loose flour into the ball. Knead this dough for 10 minutes, adding more flour to the work surface and the ball if the dough sticks to the surface or your hands. Raisins which pop out of the dough should be pushed back into it.
- The First Rise: Clean and dry the bowl. Sprinkle about ½ tsp. oil on the bottom of the bowl. Place the dough into the bottom of the bowl and flip it over once so that the entire surface of the dough is lightly covered with oil. Place the bowl in a warm, non-drafty place and cover with a damp towel. Let rise 2 hours.
- The Second Rise: Remove the towel from the bowl and gently press on the dough which has nearly doubled in size to deflate it. Flip the dough over so the moist bottom is now on top. Place the damp towel back over the bowl and let rise 1-1/2 hours.
- Shaping the Loaf and the Final Rise: Remove the towel over the bowl and gently press on the dough to deflate. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on the work surface. Cut the dough in two equal pieces, shape each half into a rough ball, and let them rest 10 minutes to relax the gluten in the dough. Shape the loaves into cylinders according to the Direct Bread Making Instructions. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the loaves in two oiled 8”X 4” bread pans, place the bread pans in a warm, non-drafty spot, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise 30-45 minutes.
- Baking the Loaves: When the bread has risen, remove the cloth and spray the loaf with water from a spray bottle, if available. Place the two bread pans on the middle rack in the center of the oven and allow some space between the two pans. About 15 minutes into the baking cycle, the loaves can be sprayed again to form a shiny crust.
Remove the loaves from the oven after they have baked approximately 50 minutes. The bottom and sides of the loaves should be evenly browned when the loaves are removed from the bread pans and thumping in the loaves with your fingers will produce a hollow sound. Remove the loaves from the pans immediately and place on wire racks to cool.
Variation: Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
Do not add the raisins while mixing the dough, but reserve until after second rise when shaping the loaves. Form the dough into a rectangle approximately 11 X 8 inches by pressing it or rolling it with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the raisins and some additional cinnamon evenly on the rectangle and then roll the shorter side up to form a cylinder. Pinch the seam to seal and place in an oiled bread pan.