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Sunday, January 13th, 2002 @ 12:57 p.m.
• 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
• 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
• 2 cups tepid water
• 2 packages active dry yeast
• 1 teaspoon granulated fructose
• 3/4 cup powdered milk
In a heavy mixing bowl, I use my Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, beat all the above ingredients together. Using the flat beater on the kitchen aid, or a heavy wooden spoon, beat on high for 10 minutes. This action causes the rapid development of a protein strand in the dough called gluten. Gluten forms very long chains of molecules, giving the bread the ability to hold more of the gasses produced by the yeast, and gives the bread a wonderful texture.
• 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Stop stirring, and sprinkle the top with the 1 cup of additional flour, and set in a warm place. What you have just made is called a sponge. Set aside the sponge for an hour to let the population of yeast have time to grow, this develops a better flavor and texture, and also helps the yeast cope with the addition of ingredients like eggs and butter. I guess reproducing yeast cells don't like being covered in slimy goo :)
I sometimes skip letting the sponge develop. Do what you have time for. Just know that it really is better to let it have time to grow.
• an additional 3 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour, or whole wheat flour
• 1 stick melted butter
• 4 large eggs, left at room temperature so as not to shock the yeast.
• 1 tablespoon salt
• ½ cup granulated fructose
Deflate the sponge by stirring a few times. Melt the butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. Beat in the eggs, and salt, and fructose into the hot butter. Add a third of the mixture to the sponge, and 1 cup of the flour. Use a dough hook on the kitchen aid on the lowest setting to incorporate, or a wooden spoon if doing by hand. Keep repeating this procedure till flour and liquid mixture are incorporated. The dough will be very sticky! Use your judgement about adding more flour. The more you add the dryer the texture will be in the end product. Do not add anymore until after kneading. The flour will continue to absorb moisture for about 15 minutes, so keep that in mind when you feel you need to add more. Let rise till doubled, in a warm place covered of course. Punch down and let rise again, or form into loaves in any shape you care for. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Brush the crusts liberally with melted butter when they come out of the oven.
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