What do you do with extra (cooked) wheatberries that’s not a grain salad? Bake bread. Although I had never heard of it, there’s a childhood favorite made by Oroweat known as Honey Wheatberry Bread. Maybe it’s Canadian, I thought, because I’ve never heard of friends purchasing the bread, nor have I seen it on store shelves. (Sorry, Canadians, I don’t mean that in a bad way.) But when I searched for it, the ubiquitous product came up everywhere from Walmart to Amazon. Bakers and bread consumers alike waxed poetic about this bread so I found the recipe below and gave it a try.
Simple to prepare, this all-natural bread has a nutty flavor, hearty texture, and an insanely rich and buttery aroma. It tastes fairly substantial, but that didn’t stop FHE from pairing it with leftover prosciutto and delcaring the combo a match made in heaven. It doesn’t hold up as well on the counter as store-bought bread (obviously), but days-old leftovers are perfect for custardy french toast. This has become one of FHE’s favorite breads and gives me reason to pick up extra wheatberries at the store.
Wheatberry Bread, from A Year in Bread
3 cups of water
3/4 milk, at room temperature
3/4 cup wheatberries (I’ve read bulger also works)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp instant yeast
1/4 cup honey (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
1/4 cup melted butter
5-6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
- Soak wheatberries in 3 cups of water for one hour. After an hour, leave the wheatberries covered and cook on medium heat until the wheatberries are soft and are popping open. Let cool. Puree in the blender until desired consistency, you may need to add a little more water.
- Note from A Year in Bread about wheatberry consistency in the bread:
Do you like your wheat berries smooth or chunky?
There are two distinctive states of wheat berries: smooth and chunky. You need to decide which form you want your wheat berries to take and prepare them differently based on your desired results.
On one end of the continuum, there is the nuts-and-seeds style of bread, with fairly intact wheat berries. While I like this effect occasionally, particularly when making rolls (add a smidge more yeast, too), the berries have a tendency to stick out of the dough and aren’t what I usually want from this bread.
Totally opposite this is the Oroweat bread that set me on this quest. This bread, oddly enough, has no discernible wheat berries. For a texture more akin to the Oroweat bread, let the cooked wheat berries cool to body temperature, ~100F (38C) and then smoosh, or not, to your heart’s content with an immersion blender or a regular blender.
- In mixing bowl, combine wheat berries, milk, yeast and whole wheat flour. Mix until well combined, cover and set in a warm spot until bubbly, 20 – 30 minutes. Add the softened butter, honey and 5 1/2 cups of bread flour. Mix until it forms a shaggy mass. Continue to add flour, a tablespoon or two (or more at first), until the dough stops readily absorbing it. Mix for another minute, two if mixing by hand. The dough will still be a bit rough. Cover and let rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Add salt. Spread a cup of flour on the counter and knead for 4 – 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed. Knead. Roll the dough in flour, put it in a clean bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).Turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter, divide in half and shape into loaves. Grease two loaf pans. Put the shaped loaves in the pans and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake bread for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out of pans onto cooling rack for at least an hour. (Note: I baked at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.)