Thursday, February 28, 2008

French Bread Remade

I am currently reading this book which I checked out from our local library. I have been desiring to eat healthier lately and to prepare meals which enable my family to eat healthier. But, honestly, I've been kind of overwhelmed by how much we all love foods that aren't nutritious and the list of things to try and avoid, not to mention how changing our eating habits would impact our food budget. Good grief - why is high fructose corn syrup added to wheat hamburger buns, BBQ sauce and croutons!?

I am by no means anywhere close to knowing what I'm talking about in this arena - but will share with you what I'm learning and hope you'll help to teach me as well.

My first experiment was to serve the girls (and myself) whole wheat tortillas for lunch Tuesday. I toasted them in a skillet with chicken, cheese and salsa inside. Emily devoured hers - Rachel has never liked tortillas, but ate about half. So, I consider this a success! I already love whole wheat things - so this was easy for me!

I was planning to make French Bread for dinner that night anyway, so decided to try a little experiment.

I started out with this recipe (which I half for our family) and here is what I came out with:
(note: the author of the above book suggests this 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 flour mixture ratio)

1/4 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. white unbleached flour
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
1/2 c. very warm water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. white unbleached flour

Mix all but the last 3/4 c. unbleached flour in a mixer. When blended, switch to the dough hook and add flour 1/4 c. at a time. Let dough mix until kneaded smooth.

Cover and let rise until doubled. Sprinkle cornmeal on a cookie sheet and shape dough into a loaf. Make three slits with a knife and let rise uncovered for one hour. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

And, the verdict was:
Everyone ate it without comment or complaint! I would have to say that I thought there was too much wheat germ in it. I would rather add more wheat flour and less wheat germ, but that may change over time. What exactly is the benefit of wheat germ vs. whole wheat flour?


Mary Ann said...

We have also made some changes to our eating habits. It is hard to change and even harder to know exactly what we should or should not be eating. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there. I've found baby steps to be the best course of action in thi s area.:-)I don't know much about the wheat germ except that I usually add a little to muffins. I usually try about half and half white and wheat-at least until we get used to it. We aren't anywhere near to using all whole wheat! Your bread looks delicious!

Jan said...

I could be wrong and if so hope someone will correct me. I always thought wheat germ came from the "good" part of the wheat that is removed during processing into white flour. So using all whole wheat should be just as nutritious. I hope! What I've just started doing is buying white whole wheat flour and using that exclusively. We've had french bread and muffins so far with no complaints. The bread was so much more tender than regular whole wheat and the color just a bit darker than white. I'm never buying white again.

Edi said...

We're also working hard at changing our eating. We started years ago by limiting junk food and excessive sugar and excessive fat.

Now we are on the journey of including more fiber-rich foods and whole-wheat everything and just being more careful in general.

I have a similar French bread recipe - so I'd like to try it w/part whole-wheat. My concern is that it will just be too dry and dense and not very French. Even my white flour French bread is too dry by the next day.

I've also been adding ground flax to my baked goods.

*carrie* said...

Yum! I always put at least some ww flour in all my baked goods, and I usually add either wheat germ or ground flaxseed.

Just Jenny said...

I am so excieted about the book. I checked out the web site. And I have been wanting to do some healthier cooking for my children. Even for just my self.

Christi said...

This sounds absolutely declicious to me. I am in the same boat as you are - most of our favorites are decidedly unhealthy. So I'm trying to find ways to revamp without freaking everyone out!

After I read Nourishing Traditions, I just felt completely overwhelmed. Maybe I'll give your book suggestion a try!

jen said...

HA! I just bought whole wheat flour and whole wheat tortillas for the first time last week! I hope this doesn't become just a fad with me. I really do want my family to eat better.

Another thing I decided to do was buy Adam's Peanut Butter! It's not bad!

Sarah said...

I have 2 young children and am trying to change the way we all eat as well, and it's so hard! I found this site
and we started drinking a green smoothie every morning. The kids like it (we add pineapple juice and that makes it so much better tasting). It feels so good to know we are all getting our greens every day-and the kids actually ask for them now. She also has a 12 step program I am planning on joining soon. Just thought I'd throw it out there, as it's helped us.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I've really gotten into baking our bread lately. I throw everything into the bread maker and hit "dough" cycle-then I do the final rise and baking in the oven. That really cuts down on the hands on time.

One thing I've noticed-if you buy "vital wheat gluten" and add it to bread you are making with whole wheat it really improves the rise and the texture. When I make my regular bread recipe, which calls for 4 cups of flour, if I sub half wheat, then I add a heaping tablespoon of vital wheat gluten and it rises just like the regular "all white" loaf.

Last week I forgot to add it, and it was SUCH a difference-the wheat loaf was dense, only rose about half as much, and stayed sort of "wet" in the middle. We did eat it toasted, but it is so much better with the vital wheat gluten.

Paige said...

Wheat germ is what's taken out of the flour that you buy at the store, otherwise the flour would "turn" and be rancid.
I know this is an old post, but I was wanting to find this recipe so I could make it for tonight. I'll let you know how it turns out!