The following recipe I cloned from a particular brand I grew up with and now have trouble finding in the stores near me. It’s similar to some other recipes on the Internet, but there are a few subtle differences. According to my records, this recipe went through 11 iterations before I was happy with it.
First I looked through a variety of different cookbooks, and devised a hybrid model of 3-4 separated-by-book recipes, to get me started (since I’m not a “pro” baker, and only have easy access to “consumer” type cookbooks). It helps to have some familiarity with generalized cooking and baking principals to find recipes that might be similar. The sources for these recipes aren’t as important as using multiple sources and noting the patterns between the ingredients, particularly the ratio patterns.
I looked for the commonalities in these recipes, and discarded the differences, from both an inter- and intra-recipe basis. For example, I might start with six recipes, then I may discard, say, two complete ones if they don’t share the same basic model the other four possess. This process would also be practiced on the individual ingredients within each recipe, if all four recipes don’t have the ingredient, it’s generally discarded. The remaining ingredient differences tend to indicate a ‘range’ of values that may be ‘typical’. This results in a basic dough model that is different from any particular consumer-level recipe.
I also looked at the ingredients listed on the trademarked label for hints as to relative amounts to use: ingredient labels list predominate ingredients first. Later stages of recipe refinement included comparing the color to the trademarked brand (this adjusted the whole-wheat:bread-flour ratio), then comparing the taste and adjusting other ingredients accordingly. With this particular recipe, when I was adjusting the sweetness there was a small range of honey amounts that matched the branded product closely, but I chose the richer one because I could discern the flavor of honey: at slightly leaner levels or ratios I could not.
This makes this recipe somewhat different from the packaged product, where only sweetness, and not a honey flavor, was noted or perceived.
I bake this in a 2-lb bread machine on the setting for large basic loaf, normal crust. I do not use the setting for whole wheat bread. The large yeast amount of this recipe provides the proper volume of rise for the pre-programmed and or pre-set rise time of my particular machine; a different manufacturer’s machine might require an adjustment to the amount of yeast.
I’ve also baked this recipe in a regular oven and if so, I reduce the measure of active dry yeast to 2 1/2 teaspoons and the salt to 3/4 teaspoon and allow for a longer rise time before baking. I’ve found a relationship between yeast amount and the flavor that salt adds: with lower yeast amounts, less salt is required (for my taste). Various cookbooks also claim that salt tends to inhibit yeast.
Therefore, in the recipe below there are two sets under the sub-heading “Yeast and Salt”: these two sets indicate a range of measure that I’ve used under different conditions that work well, but use only one set or some value in between. Do not add both sets (unless you really do need that much yeast and salt, you probably won’t). If you make this bread and believe it either didn’t rise enough or rose too much (rose and fell) and you cannot change the amount of time for the rise, as well you’ve confirmed that your yeast is active, then adjust the yeast amount upward (for faster rise) or downward (for slower rise) and also adjust the salt.
For a 2-lb bread machine
Or make by hand and bake in oven
Measured in U.S. customary units
Grains to precook:
- 5/8 cup cracked wheat (uncooked, dry measure)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/8 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons refined vegetable oil (I use soybean, non-hydrogenated)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 3 cups white bread flour
- 3/8 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- Yeast and Salt (see text above, use only one set below)
- set for my particular bread machine
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dry, granulated yeast (not instant yeast)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- set for oven baking with increased rise time
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dry, granulated yeast (not instant yeast)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
The cooked grains provide most of the moisture for the dough. I put the water and cracked wheat berries in a small pan and quickly bring it to a full boil, then immediately turn off the heat and cover it with the pan’s lid and let it cool for about 3-4 hours or until it’s room temperature. I don’t want it to boil for any length of time; as more steam escapes the pan the moisture of the soon-to-be-mixed dough will be reduced; the less moisture the cooked grains have within them, the drier the final dough.
The liquid should be completely absorbed once it’s cool. If you try to add this to the other ingredients before it has cooled, it affects the rise and can kill the yeast if it’s too hot.
When I’m in a hurry, after the grains absorb the moisture, about 40 minutes, I’ll place the covered pan in ice water being careful not to allow more water into the pan. Because yeast is sensitive to temperature, chilling the grains too much then mixing with the other ingredients results in colder dough that needs a longer period of time to rise, and this quick cool method can chill it more than desired.
A precooked grain variation is 3/8 cup cracked wheat to 1/4 cup whole red wheat berries, with the same amount of water added.
With respect to the dough, I place the whisked liquid ingredients in the machine first, then the precooked and cooled cracked wheat, then the stirred dry ingredients. The machine is set for basic bread, normal crust.
When it’s done baking, I let it cool completely, several hours, before placing it in a plastic bag. If it’s not fully cooled, any remaining warmth will condense moisture on the inside of the bag.
The vinegar seems to extend the shelf-life of the loaf.
Source recipes, all were printed and published on paper:
Joy of Cooking
“Breads” volume of well-known cookbook series
Blue Ribbon Recipes
Country Living Magazine
Bread machine booklet