Ever since my weight loss surgery last spring, I have been taking lots of nutrition classes to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle going forward. Baked goods are one group of foods that can be really unhealthy for you, so I don’t eat them often now. That being said, baking is also one of the things I really enjoy doing. I asked the nutritionist about it and she recommended baking with whole grains. After consulting with my friend Diane, who is my go-to food expert, I asked for the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book for Christmas.
Obviously, baking with whole grains doesn’t make the baked goods completely healthy. There are still the sugar and the carbs to account for. But my nutritionist’s attitude was if you are going to eat baked goods, why not eat them with whole grains, and bake them yourself so at least they are preservative free (and you can control what goes in them).
As you can see, I got the baking book I asked for. I decided that this year, I would try out a bunch of recipes from the book and see if I could get my family into eating whole grains. I’ve already converted them to whole grain pasta, but to be honest, the Ezekiel Bread I bought (made with sprouted grains) was not a hit with anyone (except me – I adore it). I am hoping that this book will have many recipes that taste delicious so you don’t even think about or wonder if it’s whole grain or not.
Before I describe how my first recipe went, I thought I would tell you what my nutritionist taught us about whole grains. Apparently, when grains are processed into white flour, a lot of the protein and nutrients are removed. So in a way, a part of the digestion is already done for you. When you eat a processed grain, therefore, your body expends less calories digesting it, meaning you take in a greater net of calories. The benefit of whole grains are that your body takes in fewer net calories. Also, whole foods are better at keeping your gut flora “good.” Scientists don’t know quite everything about how gut flora evolves but they do know that the less processed food you eat, the better your gut flora is. Anyway, those are the two things I learned about whole grains that I did not know before. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
You can learn a lot more about the different kind of grains from the fabulous King Arthur book. It also tells you how to make substitutions in your favorite classic recipes with tips on how to make everything taste delicious. So on to the first baking experiment!
I started with “The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever.” (pg. 180). Yes, that is the actual name of the recipe. The book suggested if you had never made yeast bread, this was a good place to start, so that’s where I started. Although I have baked a lot of things, I have never actually baked a loaf of yeast bread. My only bread experience has been with quick breads like banana and pumpkin. The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to knead it (much like a quick bread!). This was ideal for me since we have not yet unearthed the dough hook for my KitchenAid since the move.
Basically, all you do is dump the ingredients into the mixer, mix them for three minutes and then pop the dough into the pan! Proof for 1 hour and then bake. It was extremely easy to put together.
Some interesting features of the recipe include adding orange juice and molasses to the mix. I was VERY skeptical about them. I am not a huge fan of the taste of molasses (or orange juice, for that matter). The book claims the orange juice offsets the bitterness of the tannins in the whole wheat and doesn’t add an orange flavor. I’m glad I took the leap of faith – neither flavor comes through strongly! There’s the merest hint of molasses in the taste, but no orange flavor at all.
The Final Product
The general consensus was YUM! Even my picky eater loved it (he’s had three slices so far, all with homemade jam from his Grammy). I followed the instructions to the letter and waited 5 minutes before turning out the loaf (it slid out no problem – good greasing job, me!). I covered the crust with melted butter, which the book says will keep the crust soft. I waited 30 minutes before cutting into the loaf.
As you can see, the bread came out beautifully. It is a pretty pumpkin color. I used their tip about tenting the bread pan with tinfoil halfway through the bake and it kept the crust from getting too brown. As of this posting, the loaf is half eaten so I’m definitely counting this recipe as a success. I can definitely see myself making this a couple of times a week, because the prep time is minimal.
My next whole wheat recipe will be chocolate chip cookies. We are a chocolate chip loving household, so I’m curious to see how these come out. Stay tuned!