Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Feedback Required

We bought a Kitchenaid mixer earlier this month and I was so excited to use it to start baking my very own whole-wheat bread. We eat Harper's Homemade Honey Wheat bread and it is soooo good. It's nice and heavy and has a homemade taste and feel. Unfortunately, this is the only thing I can find about it on google, and I don't think that's right since the packaging lists an Idaho address. But I digress...

Josh and I (mostly Josh) consume about two loaves of bread per week, so in order to avoid repeated trips to the grocery store every week, I buy 6-8 loaves at a time and just freeze them. We started wondering a couple months ago if it would be cheaper to start baking our own bread instead, and we decided to go for it. Thus, the purchase of the Kitchenaid, which is something I've wanted for a long time anyway, and we also bought the grain mill attachment to go with it. However, we heard from many people that even with the 475-watt motor our mixer has, grinding wheat may tax it too strongly, so Josh bought a Nutrimill grain mill to grind our wheat instead.

All of that is fine and well, except now our quest to make cheap homemade bread has cost us more than $500. We'll consider it a good investment, though, if we find the perfect appliance combination and I become a successful bread-maker. And we haven't used either wheat grinder yet so we can return one, so tell me...what's your take? Which would you keep and why? What have you heard about the Kitchenaid attachment, or Nutrimill, or both?

In the meantime, I bought some wheat flour from the store so I could at least start practicing the actual bread baking. And that leads me to my next question...what bread recipe is the best? We'd like to find something similar to or better than the Harper's bread we eat right now. The ingredient list for that bread is: 100% Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Honey, Soybean Oil, Salt, Yeast. That's it. The bread bag obviously doesn't list quantities, so I looked around online for a recipe and found this one, which I'm going to try out tomorrow; that is, unless all y'all have THE PERFECT bread recipe to share with me.

So let's have it - recommendations for grain mills and wheat bread recipes - I'm open to all feedback and suggestions. Thanks!


Stefnee said...

Hi Paige-

You know what crazies we are about the do things yourself and don't buy what you can make for cheaper. I do have a kitchen-aid mixer and I use it for multiple bread making days. However I am only saying this one time. Buy a VITAMIX with the dry attachment. It will still cost you roughly $500 but you get a food processor, mixer, grinder, breadmill, soup machine, ice cream maker, smoothie machine and much more than just a garin mill. It works really well and will make one loaf of bread at a time does all the work but cooking it. I swear by it. That is the best purchase I have made for my kitchen EVER! Plus I have had one for almost 6 years so if you had questions I can help. Seriously that is what I would do. Keep the Kitchen Aid they are great. But take the grain mill back and the attachment for the mixer. Go with the Vita-Mix.

deidra said...

Before we get started here, I just have to state that I am a Bosch girl through and through when it comes to making bread. I'm a snob about it, and I know it.

I just got a Nutrimill for Christmas, and I'm pretty excited. I debated between in at the VitalMill (which was on sale for $99 at the local cook's store), but decided to go with the Nutrimill for more options. I'm not sure I'm sold on my decision, but I'm glad to have a wheat grinder. (This is coming from the girl who got rid of her blender when she got a stick blender because she doesn't use a blender that much, so I probably wouldn't like a VitaMix. That's just me.)

I grew up on whole wheat everything, and have been having my mom supply me with whole wheat flour since I got my Bosch (store it in the freezer to preserve the nutrients). Before that, I was a Harper's Homemade girl, too!

I noticed that there are some bread recipes in the Nutrimill handbook. I'm not sure what is in them, but generally most bread recipes ingredients are going to be fairly simple, because there just isn't much to put in them. I think it's a matter of trial and error, and discovering what works for you.

My bread recipe calls for water, powdered milk, sugar, yeast, salt, flour, and oil. But I like to use a gluten powder to help my loves to be a little lighter. And if I get a little crazy dumping oatmeal in the pan, I throw in some cooled oatmeal. I used to be obsessed with finding the perfect bread recipe, but I'm not a consistent measurer, so my loaves don't turn out the same way each time anyway. (This blog is a good resource for different ideas.) I say learn all you can about the bread making process, and then don't be afraid to experiment and try new things! Just don't forget the salt!

Brittany said...

Maybe we should have a homemade bread Taste of Home theme. I've never used a Kitchen Aid attachment. I have the Jupiter grain mill. It's great.

Melissa said...

Paige! It was so good to hear from you! You can spy anytime. :o) My mom taught me to sew when I was younger and it's really not as hard as it looks. Make Grayson a pair of the little pants that I had on there. They're so easy! Your family is so adorable. As far as my opinion on a grinder, I'd have to go with the Vitamix. We had one a few years ago and it's well worth every penny. I'm no good at baking bread, but Chelsi Kroff has an amazing recipe. Good luck!

Karynn Jorgensen said...

No suggestions, but thanks for the laugh! Sounds like something I do on a weekly basis...trip over dimes to pick up pennies. :-) If you ask me, both will come in handy more often than you think and it is always good to have a wheat grinder if you have food storage. I have a hand grinder that will stay in the plastic packaging until Armageddon. Of course, if it's electric, you better have a generator, too! (How much will that add to the bill?)

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

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Stephen Lisonbee said...

I'm the only guy leaving a comment on this, but let's just say I really enjoy food!!!

Pam and I got the BlendTec at Leavitt Kitchen Supply in St. George and really like it. It can make a ton real fast, is really easy to clean, and stores in a small place. We also used it to grind corn, which has been great for corn bread. Here is the link:


You can borrow it if you want to give it a try.

superpaige said...

You'll use your kitchenaid for so much more than bread making, so that's in investment right there. And it will (hopefully) last you forever. We have a wheat grinder kind of like that one. I think it's called the whispermill.

But I haven't mastered the breadmaking thing. I'm still searching for the perfect recipe, too. I did, however, make a killer huge batch of rolls on Monday that turned out great.

I guess you have to try multiple recipes and try again to get it right.

Good luck.

Chelsi said...

Hey, Paige! I just found your blog through Ben's facebook account. I'm very flattered by Melissa's suggestion to get my recipe. It's actually the recipe I grew up eating, and I do think it's yummy. If you want to give it a try, here it is (adjusted to work in a Kitchen Aid, actually):
3 cups whole wheat flour (I use white wheat because we like how light it is. Red wheat will be heavier, if you like that hearty feel).
Scant 1/2 cup sugar (you can do 1/4 honey if you prefer)
Scant 1/2 cup gluten
2 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 tsp. Yeast
Mix in:
1/2 cup oil
3 1/4 cups hot water
Finally, finish by adding 3 to 3 1/2 cups more flour.
Knead for 2-3 minutes in Kitchen Aid. Let rise for 40 minutes. Form into two loaves. Let loaves rise for 40 minutes. Bake 35-40 minutes @ 350*. Remove from pans to cool.

That's it. I hope I didn't throw in too much extra info so it's hard to find the actual recipe. :o) Good luck with the bread baking. It really is the cheaper way to go, especially if you grind your own flour. Oh yea, if no one has told you yet, you need to refrigerate unused ground flour or use it within a week of grinding to keep the nutrients. Just a little FYI!

I love Harpers! said...

Hi! I'm also a harper's homemade snob and was looking for a similar recipe to make at home to save money, I was wondering if you ever found one that compares! And just fyi, harpers really is made in pocatello, ID! http://www.harpershomemade.com/