The last few days have been all about recalling memories at my house. We buried my 97-year-old mother this past Tuesday. It has been a little rough but I’m grateful for God’s comfort surrounding me in the form of family and friends. (My apologies if you’ve sent me a question in the last week regarding something on this blog and I haven’t gotten back to you yet.)
I have a specific memory about whole wheat berries (the star character in this Cracked Berry Wheat Bread) that involves my dad driving a big green John Deere combine through the wheat fields of our Indiana farm in the middle of July. He would occasionally reach his hand up and behind him to grab a handful of wheat berries out of the hopper. After popping them into his mouth, he would chew for awhile until they turned into a soft, viscous mass, not unlike chewing gum. Mind you there were often bugs and empty chaff in that hopper along with the wheat berries, but he was not deterred.
When it comes to bread, I’m generally a white-bread-lovin’ baby boomer. But I know I need to be eating whole grains, so this bread is the perfect compromise.
How about some crushed wheat berries thrown into that white bread for interesting texture and added flavor? This particular recipe is homemade (with the help of a bread machine), and contains no preservatives. I declare it healthy enough. It’s well worth the calories and effort, although calling any bread made in the bread machine an “effort” is debatable.
Unfortunately, I no longer have access to those fresher-than-fresh wheat berries my dad grew, but I can usually find wheat berries in the bulk bins at our local organic grocery stores. They are inexpensive and well worth the trouble for the texture, flavor, and nutrition they add to this nubbly, crunchy, and earthy-tasting bread. Be sure to boil the wheat berries as directed, or soak them overnight before using for maximum tooth-friendly enjoyment.
Please note if you are new to making bread in your bread machine, I have several tutorials on this blog to help you get the dough just right. Start here.
- ½ cup whole grain wheat berries
- 2-1/2 cups bread flour, divided
- 1 cup warm water or whey drained from yogurt
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup nonfat dry milk solids
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
- Boil wheat berries in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes. Allow to cool (quicker if you add ice cubes) and drain. Alternatively, soak wheat berries in water for 12 hours or overnight. (Softened and drained wheat berries will keep in the fridge up to a week.)
- Add prepared wheat berries to a blender or food processor along with 1 cup of bread flour. Process until wheat berries are finely chopped. You will likely need to stop several times to push the flour and wheat berries from the sides of the chopping container back to the middle.
- Combine water, salt, sugar, nonfat dry milk solids, butter, and remaining flour to bread machine pan along with ground wheat berries and flour mixture, and the yeast.
- Select the dough cycle and start. Check dough after 10 minutes to make sure dough sticks to the side of the pan and then pulls away cleanly. If too wet, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
- When dough cycle completes, check to make sure dough has doubled in size. If not, leave in pan until it does.
- When doubled, remove dough from pan to floured surface and divide into two equal portions. Shape each portion into an oblong shape by pulling dough from the top to the bottom until dough is smooth; then pinch closed. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat that has been sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal.
- Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 425 degrees about 20 minutes before you expect the loaf to be ready to bake.
- Brush risen loaves with glaze of 1 egg white whipped together with 1 tablespoon water. (This is optional.)
- Make 2-3 diagonal slashes in each loaf with very sharp serrated knife or razor blade, being careful not to deflate dough.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until interior temperature reaches 190 degrees F, or until bottom is brown and sounds hollow.
- Allow loaves to cool on rack for an hour before slicing.