I have read (several sources) that a plot 10 x 20 (or 200 square feet) planted in wheat, will yield enough wheat flour (about two cups) to make one small to medium sized loaf of bread every week for a year! Wow.
Since no one in my family is gluten intolerant and I just adore hot bread out of the oven, that information makes me extremely happy! Holy cow – I can grow wheat over the leach field that lays right in front of our future home!
So, I got to thinking. What if I used an alternative type of flour, one I can grow in my vegetable garden (soy or bean flour) or off a nut tree (acorn or almond flour) and use it to stretch the wheat flour further? If the bread takes about 2 cups of flour, and I substituted 1 cup with another type of flour, then I would still have that 1 cup of wheat flour to use elsewhere – say, for pasta! Or cake. Or zucchini muffins.
Mmmmmmm…………. zucchini muffins. 😉
I have been doing a lot of experimenting with almond milk lately (Almond Milk Frozen Yogurt and Almond Milk Ice Cream) and so I have a lot of almond flour in my cupboard right now. When I make almond milk, the left-over pulp is dried and then ground into flour. I have also been playing around with acorn flour, so I decided to give it a go and see what I can come up with!
Here are a few pictures showing the different flours I am going to use. The first is of dried almond pulp. This is what is left over after you extract the almond milk. The second picture shows the difference between blanched almond flour and unblanched almond flour. When you blanch almonds, the skin slip off easily, so that the resulting meal/flour is a creamy white color. When the skins are left on (which makes perfectly acceptable almond milk) they are ground up and used just like the blanched almond flour, except the texture may be just a bit more grainy. Some people refer to unblanched almond flour as “almond meal”. To me, it’s almost like having wheat flour and whole wheat flour. The third picture shows the three flours that I am going to experiment with to get a good recipe for bread. The top left shows unbleached all purpose wheat flour. I hope to be able to grow my own wheat on our future homestead, but this wheat is store-bought. The top right is blanched almond flour that I made myself. The bottom shows the acorn flour. I gathered acorns, cracked the nuts out of the shells, ground them up a bit and leached them in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, changing the water every day. Once the bitterness of the tannin was removed, the acorn meal was allowed to dry and then I ground the dried acorn meal into flour.
My first experiment didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned. The bread tasted pretty good and it rose about 1/3 again it’s size, but I think there was too much liquid involved. It came out of the oven with the top of the bread looking almost like browned cheese. It was a bit more dense than store-bought sandwich bread, but not too dense, and actually had a good crumb. Just as I had supposed, the sweetness of the almond flour offset the bitterness of the acorn flour, but not completely. The crust was a bit more crumbly than I would have liked, although it cut well with a serrated knife.
Okay. So, knowing that it tasted good, had a decent texture, but didn’t rise up very much and didn’t have the best crust, I figured I would just tweak the recipe a bit. 😉 I like doing that!
I think there was just too much liquid in the batter, so I decided to try the same recipe again with only one egg and 1/2 cup of water. Also, instead of using 1/2 cup of acorn flour, I used 1/3 cup and 2/3 cup of almond flour (instead of 1/2 and 1/2) with the 1 cup of wheat flour. With the dough hook on my mixer, I “kneaded” the bread for about 3 or 4 minutes, though it was a bit looser than conventional wheat bread dough. But, this batter does have yeast and gluten, so I thought it couldn’t hurt. It didn’t pour into the pan like the first batch and I had to plop it in with a spoon, which I think was a good thing and more like the bread I was trying to get. I let it rise 2 hours, and indeed, it rose up above the level of the pan. This was a lot considering the batter barely filled up 1/3 of the pan to begin with.
I preheated my oven to 375 and let the bread bake for 20 minutes. Mmmmmmm……. My whole house smelled so good! The bread didn’t rise any more in the oven, like I was hoping it would, but when I cut the bread………………..
………..it was beautiful. It had a wonderful texture and sliced with a bread knife just like I was hoping it would. Of course, the taste is the most important criteria for success and, let me tell you, this was a HUGE success! Hubby and I both agreed that it tasted wonderful. We had some slices with my homemade crockpot plum butter that I put up last summer and decided this recipe was a winner! I may still tweak the recipe a bit here and there because I want to see if adding just a bit more yeast and another 1/2 cup of flour would make a bigger loaf – more of a sandwich sized loaf. But, at this point I am happy. Really happy! 🙂
Here is the recipe I ended up with:
1 cup wheat flour, 2/3 cup almond flour, 1/3 cup acorn flour
1 packet yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons grape seed oil (or olive oil)
3 tablespoons sugar (cane non GMO sugar)
1 egg, slightly beaten
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, according to packet directions. Add sea salt, grape seed oil, sugar and the egg, mix well. Add in flour. At this point I used my mixer to “knead” the bread for about 4 minutes. If you aren’t using a mixer, just make sure you mix it well. Place in a bread loaf pan (I buttered mine first) and let it rise about 2 hours, or at least until doubled in volume. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Pop out of pan and cool on a rack. Enjoy!
Now – on to the pasta recipes!
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