Saturday, December 20, 2008

Alma's Hearty Health Bread

Here is the a snippet of the e-mail Alma sent to me to provide you with some of the "inside" information and tips she offers. From South Africa, Alma has had to make a good deal of adjustments to her recipes, particularly in measurement conversions in order for us to more easily follow her instructions. This bread recipe is one she has been making for several years and she says that although her family loves it, when she has baked it for some Americans in the past they complained that it was too hearty for their taste. See what you think. I think it sounds great!
When I asked her about Prairie Grain Bread I was surprised to find that she too uses this bread saying ... "I also use the Prairie Grain White because I cannot really bake a better loaf myself, and it toasts and makes toasted cheese beautifully. I have used the 9 grain but I prefer my own brown. "

"This Whole-wheat Bread recipe is my sophisticated version of the original recipe I had from my very first SA cookbook.I used to bake 2 2-lb loaves when my husband was alive but now I do only one, which I divide into two smaller loaves. My bread tins measure 12" by 3 1/2" and are the original ones I brought from SA . There is nothing to be found here that is quite the same size or measurement. However, you can use 1 lb loaf tins.
You will find the recipe seems rather long, but it is because of all the health bits and pieces I add. I would also add cracked wheat but it is a great nuisance because it has to be cooked first and cooled which adds to the preparation time
When I open a new jar of yeast I always proof it first, that is 1 tspn yeast, 1 tbspn water and 1 tspn sugar mixed together in a cup and placed in a warm place. It should rise to at least 3/4 of the cup in about 15 to 20 minutes. Otherwise I just mix the dry yeast straight in with the flour and other ingredients.

Wholewheat Bread
3 cups wholewheat flour
2 cups AP or Bread Flour
2 1/2 tspns Fleischman or Red Star Active Dry yeast
1/2 cup Digestive Bran
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tblspn ground flaxseed
1 tblspn Quinoa flakes
1 tblspn wheat germ (These last five ingredients are optional. Find them at a Health Food shop or the Health Food Section at Krogers,but this is what makes my bread different)
2 cups tap hot water
2 tspns salt
1 tabspn brown sugar
1 tbspn molasses (this gives a good color )
1 tbspn oil
Set the oven to 400.
Mix together all dry ingredients in a basin, including yeast, and stir well to blend
Dissolve the sugar, salt and oil into the hot water. Make well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in 3/4 of the liquid. Blend all together.If you see it is too dry, add the rest of the liquids gradually ( you will most probably find that uses it all) and start to knead.

IF the mixture is too stiff You may have to add some more water but be very careful, you don't want the mixture to be too wet. Knead well until the mixture comes completely away and no longer sticks to the sides or to your hands, Continue to knead for about 10 minutes. If it seems too slack add a sprinkling of white flour, if it seems too dry add water but only 1 tbspn at a time. With practice one gets to judge when its right.
[Coat your palms with a little oil] and pat them over the ball of dough. Place in a clean basin, cover and put to rise for 2 hours. It should double in volume.

Punch down the dough, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for about 10 minutes. This last step is not essential but the dough is easier to mould if you do it. Divide the dough in half, flatten out with the heel of your hand and by flattening, folding, and rolling with your hand you can shape it into two loaves that will fit into your greased bread tins.
Cover and put to rise again in a warm place. You can cover it with a kitchen cloth supported by a couple of tall glasses. See that it is completely covered, otherwise the top will dry out. The second rising should take about 45 minutes and it should rise about 1 1/2" above the level of the tin.
Bake at 400 for 40 minutes, but look at your bread after 30 mins because oven temperatures vary and it could well get too brown. If you think your oven is too hot, then set it to 400 for 20 minutes and then reduce it to 375. "

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