Baked on January 29, 2012
Last summer I finally had some beautiful tomatoes ripening in my garden and I began my quest to find the perfect recipe for cracked wheat sandwich bread. I wanted to make just the right loaf with a soft interior with bits of crunch to act as the background for the simple filling: a thick slab of perfectly red, vine- ripened tomato, adorned only with a bit of salt and a little butter on the toasted bread.
I tried using bulgar (a type of cracked wheat) in different variations. But if cooked before mixing into the loaf, the bulgar softened in the baking, and the crunch was gone. I tried versions with Malt-O-Meal (a whole wheat cooked cereal) and Ralston hot cereal, but none of them worked out as well as Wheatena. I found an online recipe here (click on "Old Fashioned Wheatena Bread) and I made it several times with great results. For this riff on the original recipe, I used Pete's Starter instead of yeast and I baked it in lidded pots instead of in 9" x 5" loaf pans.
2 c. ww flour 3 3/4 c. bread flour
1 c. wheatena (uncooked) 1/3 c half and half
1 2/3 c whole milk a few T water
1 heaping T honey 2 T brown sugar
2 T butter 1 T salt
refreshed starter (about 13 oz.)
Mixing, Method, etc.
Combined all the dry ingredients but the brown sugar and all but about 1 3/4 c. of the bread flour in the bowl of my big stand mixer. I warmed the milk briefly, added to it the honey, brown sugar, butter, and mixed well. Then I added the starter to the wet mix and then added all to the dry mix. Using the flat beater, mixed until well blended then added enough of the extra bread flour to make a slightly sticky dough. Changed to the dough hook and kneaded for about 4 minutes added a bit of extra flour as needed. Depending on the moisture of the starter, you might need more flour.
|One cup of Wheatena adds a lot of crunch!|
Put the dough into a lightly oiled plastic tub, covered it with the lid and left it to rise. This was a fairly slow rise- it took over five hours to double. Shaped the dough into boules and let them rise in towel-lined, floured baskets, covered with the edges of the towels. Preheated the 4 1/2 qt le crueset dutch oven and the two small (1 1/2 qt.) le creusets at 425 F for 30 minutes. The risen rounds were gently placed into the hot pots and docked. The hot lids went back on them and they baked for about 30 minutes, lids off for the last five.
Yield: one boule, 2 #, and two boules 1# 2 oz. each.
The starter works great for leavening a multi-grain style bread. Even though it took a long time to rise, the flavor was well-developed and the those little bits of crunch added that something extra. This was a far cry from a heavy whole wheat bread. I think the original recipe (see link above) has more contrast when using just while flour with the Wheatena, but this version is a great way to enjoy even more whole grain.