Do you have wheat stored, but haven't been able or willing to spend $250 on a grain mill?  Have you wondered if there's a way to make bread with it anyhow?  THERE IS!    This bread is moist, tender, with a good crumb and impressive natural gluten strength.   The overnight soak is the magic trick here:  as the mash sits, enzymes break down proteins and allow gluten to begin forming  on its own, enzymes break down starches into sugars for flavor and to feed the yeast you add the next day, and the soaking lets the little hard bits of wheat soften up, leaving no trace of grittiness or graininess. You will not need to add dough enhancer, Vitamin C, vinegar, vital wheat gluten, or any thing else to get great !

If you use the 2 1/2 c of wheat kernels, the bread ends up about 2/3 whole wheat;  if you use a high-speed blender (like BlendTec or Vitamix) , you can use 3 cups and end up with bread that is 85% whole wheat.


Blender Wheat Bread

2 1/3 cups (17 oz) wheat kernels (65% )  OR 3 cups- 22oz , if using a Vitamix 
2 1/2  cups water

Combine in blender; mix on high speed for two minutes.  If it seems too hard on your motor, add 2 Tbsp. water.  Let the mash soak, covered and at room temperature, 8 hours or overnight.   After soaking, add:

2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour (11 oz) 
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. honey
4 ½ tsp. yeast (1 ½ Tbsp. or 2 envelopes)
1/4 c. hottest tap water (no hotter than 130 F)

Knead for five minutes, dough should be just thick enough to clean the bowl's sides.  Add flour if needed, but the dough should be tacky and very soft.  It’s had enough kneading  when it passes the windowpane test. (See slide show.)  Cover and let rest 20 minutes.  Coat two 8x4 loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour ½ cup water on the oven floor (avoid the heating element!).  Turn the oven on 350 degrees for ONE MINUTE to warm it, then turn heat off.  Divide dough in half.  With wet hands, shape each loaf and place in a pan.  Place pans in the warmed oven.  When the top of the loaf has risen about ½” above the edge of the pan (around 30-40 minutes later), remove from oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  When oven is hot and dough has risen to about ¾” above the rim, bake loaves for 20-25 minutes, until the sides are browned. Remove from pans; cool on a rack at least 20 minutes before slicing.

   If using a high -speed blender, use 3 cups of wheat kernels in the mash. When adding flour the next day, use 1 1/2 cups flour instead of the 2 1/2 cups. 

FAQ’s:

How long can a soaker sit?  It’s best right around 8-12 hours up to 24 hrs.  If you need to have it go longer, refrigerate it from the beginning to slow down enzyme activity.

How high does the ideal proof go? (3/4”)  Does the poke test work? Yes if you use a wet finger or have let it rise uncovered.

How smooth can I get the puree in a blender, and does it matter much? It doesn’t need to be super smooth with this method; soaking eliminates any hard bits.

How long does it take to rise without a warm oven? Depends on your kitchen temperature, but around 1 hour.

Is the 20 minute autolyze necessary for flavor or texture? It’s OK without it, but rises better and tastes a little nicer (sweeter) with it.

How many minutes does it need to rise in the oven?   About 30-40.

How long does it really take to bake at 400? This depends on whether your loaves are identical in size, where any hot spots are in your oven, and how accurate its thermometer is.    My evenly-sized loaves took 21 min.

 
 
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Left- White Wheat
Right- Red Wheat

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As you can see from the loaves, red and white wheat bake up nearly identically except for color.  They differ quite a bit in flavor.
"50%" means that the loaf is made of 50% whole grain, and 50% all-purpose flour.

Last time you made bread, was it coarse and crumbly once it sat for a while?

If it was, you had a gluten problem.  It could be that the dough wasn't kneaded enough to form good long gluten strands, or your flour may have not had enough gluten in it to begin with.   If so, use flour with a higher gluten content next time, or add gluten itself.  Cans of gluten are often sold with breadbaking supplies. 

Another thing that makes a big difference is how finely ground your flour is: if it's coarse, gluten can't form well.  Develop enough gluten, and you have small, even air bubbles in your bread, and a chewy texture.

Why is gluten so important?  

Gluten is the main protein in wheat.  It forms tiny elastic chains that allow the dough to stretch and hold together, and that matrix forms walls around the carbon dioxide bubbles produced by the yeast as it grows.   If there's not enough gluten, the cell walls break, leaving large, unevenly-shaped air bubbles.    Gluten is activated by liquid, warmth and kneading- which is why you use as little of those three when you're making pie crust.  That's one food that you want to avoid gluten forming.  Gluten makes great bread, but tough pastry.
 
Wheat comes in different colors and 'hardness', or protein content.  You can buy "soft white", "soft red", "hard white" and "hard red".   There are even distinctions among the hard wheats- it is often labeled as "spring wheat" or "winter wheat".  Winter wheat is planted in late fall, and grows using the moisture from winter snow and rain.   Spring wheat is planted in spring, and grows through the hot, dry summer.  The more water the wheat gets, the more grain it produces, but these higher yields result in lower protein content.  So hard spring wheat, growing when it's hot and dry, ends up with a higher protein content.  (This explanation is somewhat simplified- if you like scientific details, see here.)  If you buy a bag that just says "hard red wheat", assume it's winter wheat.  Being able to label wheat as "hard spring wheat" is a selling point, and the farmers get more money for higher-protein wheat. 

This also means that if you buy the cheapest 'hard' wheat, you'll most likely have lower protein content.  Which means it's gonna take a little more effort to make it into good bread.

Red Wheat, either hard or soft, has a deeper, heartier flavor, and a reddish-brown color.

White Wheat, hard or soft, has a more delicate flavor, and a light tan color.  If you're just starting with whole-wheat bread making, this is a good one, since the flavor is more subtle.  It tastes more like 'white bread', but better!  I love the taste and fragrance of freshly-ground wheat in bread.  Hard white wheats are relatively new to the market.

Hard Red or White Spring Wheat is usually between 12-15% protein (or gluten), the best-quality ones run between 14-15%.  This is what you want for good whole-wheat bread.

Hard Red or White Winter Wheat generally contains 11- 13% protein.

Soft Red or White Wheat only has about 6-10% protein. 

The protein content can be as low as 2%, or as high as 18%.  It depends on growing conditions, what variety the grain is, and even how moist the wheat is.  And not all the protein is gluten: only the amino acids "gliadin" and "glutenin" will become gluten.  That's why oats, though high in protein, will not make good yeast bread on its own.  They don't contain gliadin and glutenin as part of the amino acid profile.  This is also why celiacs can have oats.
(see here for more info on amino acids and celiac.)
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Soft wheat is best in quickbreads and things where you DON'T want gluten forming: cookies, pastries, cakes, quickbreads. (This also means that non-gluten containing grains and seeds are good for this group of breads.)

Hard wheat is best for yeast bread, tortillas, and pasta. When I use 100% hard wheat flour in bread,  I still have to add something to increase the dough strength- crushed Vitamin C, lecithin, dough enhancer, gluten, extended soaking, or using part all-purpose flour; see Making Bread for suggested quantities. 

See here for info about baking with whole wheat flour.