Waving the Wheat

Freshly ground wheat is a revelation

If you're a college football fan, you've seen it.  Fans of Midwestern teams standing in the stadium, arms raised high and waving back and forth. That's "waving the wheat." 

You can also wave the wheat in the kitchen.

We all know that whole grains are better for us. They contain all the nutrients of the grain including the oil in the inner part or germ plus the fiber from the outer layer or bran.

What we don’t often hear is how delicious freshly ground grain can be.  It has a fresher (of course!), nuttier flavor than flour that has been sitting in a bag for a while.

What you also don’t often hear is that harvested wheat berries or kernels need about 3 months of maturing in a grain silo before the wheat is ready to be milled into flour. This time period allows the berries to lose moisture so the resulting flour will be dry, like it’s supposed to be, instead of gummy. So, it's right about now that wheat harvested in the summer is ready for milling.

Heartland farmers knew all this, of course, so they’d store the grain and then use a hand-cranked grinder to grind the wheat berries into flour. You see the harvested wheat on the stalk, the threshed wheat kernels in the bowl, the flour mill and the coarsely ground flour in the pan.

Milling Wheat the Old-Fashioned Way

We’re lucky in the Midwest that we can often find grocery stores (Hy-Vee, for example) that have electric grain mills for wheat just as you could find a coffee bean grinder in the coffee aisle. You just put the whole wheat berries or kernels in the top of the mill, choose your grind (fine, medium, coarse) and press a button.  You’ll get home-ground flour that’s delicious.  Just remember to put the bag at the bottom of the chute or you’ll look like the Ghost of Wheat Harvests Past, covered in flour.

At home, I have an electric grain mill that does the trick in seconds. I can also grind dried soy beans or millet, steel-cut oats, or any other grain or dried bean into fresh flour.

I urge you to try freshly ground wheat or packaged whole wheat flour in a delicious new bread with the added flavor of your favorite granola.  

Now that the weather is turning crisp again, it’s time to get out that bread machine and take it for a spin.  

You can set the delay timer and wake up to the sweet and spicy aroma of Great Plains Granola Bread, still warm from the “oven.”

Now, if only someone could put the coffee on. . . .

Great Plains Granola Bread

Great Plains Granola Bread

In the 1970s, Peavey Flour Mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota, milled a granola flour that made a wonderful, nutty-tasting bread. Today, you can make a terrific granola bread yourself by grinding granola in the food processor. If you can’t find milder-tasting white whole wheat flour in your area, then just use regular whole wheat flour. This whole-grain loaf has wonderful texture. Recipe from The Artisan Bread Machine by Judith Fertig (Robert Rose, 2011).

Makes 1 (1-1/2 pound) loaf

Delay Timer

Food processor or blender

3/4 cup prepared granola     
3 tablespoons large-flake (old-fashioned) rolled oats          
3 tablespoons  dried sour cherries or cranberries    
1/2 teaspoons salt      
2 tablespoons vegetable oil   
5 teaspoons liquid honey       
1-1/4 cups boiling water        
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour , freshly ground or packaged
1-1/2 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast      
3/4 cup raisins (optional)       
1/3 cup sliced almonds, finely chopped nuts or unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
1. In food processor, pulse granola until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Add granola, oats, dried cherries, salt, oil and honey to the bread pan. Pour in boiling water, stir and let cool for 15 to 25 minutes or until mixture has cooled to lukewarm (between 86°F and 95°F/30°C and 35°C).
3. Spoon flour on top of liquid. Add yeast. Place raisins and almonds (if using) in the dispenser (or add at the “add ingredient” or “mix in” signal).
4. Select the Whole Wheat cycle and the Light Crust setting and press Start.

*          You can vary the flavor of this bread by using different varieties of prepared granola.
*          Use the Light Crust setting for a medium brown crust; some prepared granolas have a higher sugar content than others and can cause the bread to brown at darker crust settings.


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