Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Versatile Wheat Berry

Friday is baking day here Providence Farms.  Weekends often find us very busy, leaving little time for kitchen pursuits, however, I like to have a full pantry, just in case we have unexpected guests - not to mention my children complain mightily if they happen to find the cupboard bare!

Yesterday found me in the kitchen up to my elbows in wheat berries.  I like to have treats to put out with tea, or for my family to nibble on when they are feeling peckish, but I'd rather have them eat something with a little substance than filling up on junk food. With that in mind, I have made it my business to find recipes that not only use whole grains, but actually taste good.  Now, I'm not bashing anyone's efforts at whole wheat baking, I'm just saying that sometimes the end result is more akin to sawdust than it is to a heavenly confection.

Over the years, I have tried whole wheat based recipes too numerous to mention.  Although the flavor is often acceptable, the consistency is usually less than desirable.  There is no mistaking the end product for "healthy".  Inevitably, my family will flatter me with kind words, take a few bites and leave the rest of my efforts to mold in the cupboard.  But, not one to quit, I just keep plying my long-suffering kinsmen with one failed experiment after another.

Knowing that there may come a time when we no longer have access to cheap white flour and become completely dependent upon our wheat supply, I felt compelled to have at least a handful of really good, dependable whole wheat recipes on hand.  Lifestyle adjustments will be challenging enough without adding inedible food to the list of hardships!

One of my favorite whole wheat recipes comes in the form of Applesauce Cake.  I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Applesauce Cake, but it is an old-time favorite.  My Great-Grandmother used to make it in her pioneer kitchen (she died at the ripe old age of 103!) and it has long been my Dad's favorite.  It is an excellent "prepper" recipe because the fresh ingredients can easily be altered using stored foods.  The flavors combine better after sitting a day or two and because the applesauce is a featured ingredient, the cake stays moist for at least a week.  To tell you the truth, I can't tell this cake is comprised completely of whole wheat flour.  The crumb is moist and tender, not the least bit grainy or course.  I ground Hard White wheat for this recipe.  If you are using Hard Red, the result will be more nutty and "wheaty".  This recipe would also be a good place to use soft wheat, as it doesn't require a lot of gluten (which yeast based recipes need).  Give it a try - I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Cake
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C shortening (or butter or home rendered lard)
2 eggs (or 2 T egg powder & 6 T water)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 3/4 C. whole wheat flour (freshly ground)
1 C unsweetened applesauce (home canned, of course)
1/2 C raisins (optional)
1/2 C walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350°

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add applesauce and mix.  Add the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves.  Mix just until moistened.  Add raisin and walnuts and mix until combined - don't overdo it.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 5x9" loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until a wooden skewer, inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.  Wrap tightly to store.
Freshly ground Hard White flour

Mixing the cake ingredients

Prepared loaf pan

Ready for the oven

Tests done!

Another recipe that I have found works extraordinarily well with whole wheat flour is Survival Bars.  Using whole wheat flour instead of white flour makes these cookies a veritable nutritional powerhouse!  As I have mentioned before they are the perfect "survival" cookie.  You could live for days on these breakfast-like bars.  Filled with whole wheat, rolled oats and homemade jam, they will see you through even the longest, most taxing of days.  When I use whole wheat in these cookies, I don't notice the slightest difference in texture or taste.  The whole wheat does make them more filling (you certainly can't sit down and eat a handful of these beauties!), but other than that, you will have no way of knowing they are actually good for you.

Awaiting the top layer
And what is whole wheat without mentioning Simply Perfect Whole Wheat Bread?  Every time I make this bread I am astounded at it's tight crumb and moist texture.  It is simply perfect!
Simply Perfect Whole Bread
Freshly ground wheat berries aren't just for bread anymore.  With a little experimentation and practice, you can use whole wheat for everything, and enjoy it too.

In the humble, versatile wheat berry, God did indeed provide us with the staff of life.


  1. I'm coming to your house on Friday's, lol...

    Everything thing looks delicious. I can understand why your kids would be upset if nothing was in the pantry. Mom makes all these wonderful things and without them, I would be heart broken if I were your kids.

  2. Hi Enola,
    I have baked with whole wheat for years. Try making pancakes with just the whole wheat flour. It is amazing how good it is! Then for lunch, take the same batter, add 2 more eggs then normal and more flour for a thicker batter. Dip a hot dog into it and deep fry. We called them Prairie Pups, because we used wheat grown up on the Camus Prairie. Also, take your standard oatmeal raisin cookie and sub the white flour for whole wheat flour. The youngsters will love these!
    I miss all these goodies now, my husband has Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, and some new research is linking gluten intolerence to this disease that destroys the thyroid. So now I am experimenting with other grain flours, and getting some not too bad results. Lemon pound cake, chocolate cake, pancakes and even some matzo for the Feast of Unlevened Bread came out quite tasty.
    Judy in Idaho

  3. What a great opportunity to Thank you for posting the Whole wheat Bread recipe last year. I've been making my 3 loaves for about a year now (ever since you posted) and the family loves, loves, loves, it. I'm still working on my 'technic' as this has been my first experience making bread but I haven't bought bread, and I can supply my girls and their families with fresh healthy but great tasting (and great for sandwich too) bread. The survival bars are next on the list, I think. Still looking forward to your book and all the other goodies I get to make and share with my family. Thank you again!

  4. Enola-I thank you! These recipes are going in my file pronto!

  5. My mom bought her Bosch Kitchen Machine in 1979 and have used whole wheat ever since. A cookbook called Wheat Cookery has a ton of dessert recipes along with every other genre of cooking. For my sister's birthday, she made an Angel Food cake using only wheat flour. It was so good. We also grind Hard Red Winter Wheat berries to create the base for the best cheesecake in the world. Thanks for sharing these recipes. I am sure I will be trying them soon. I just bought a second Bosch and Kitchen Mill at a yard sale for $35. And they work. So excited.

  6. I, too, have to thank you for these wonderful recipes! I have been making your wonderful wheat bread every week for my family for about 6 months now. I even blogged about my baking day today and linked back to you. Here is the link to my blog if you want to check it out:
    Thank you again so much. I've read your blog for some time now, but today is the first comment I've left :)

  7. Enola'


    Myself and two others got our hours cut at work becouse we were making to much overtime (bunch of communist's supervisors)

    anyhow I got bored and started my own little blog.

    here it is

    I scaned the article on the bullet proof vest thing. I got a lead on two brand new plates for $350.00 for the vest I already have (thinking about it)


  8. I am so glad that you decided to continue the blog. I enjoy your posts and mostly lurk so I'll take this chance to say thank you.
    We grind hard white wheat for most of our baking but we have found some recipes just need to be less fibrous. We bought a nice sieve with a very tight stainless steel mesh (it's OXO brand) that we use for sifting out the majority of the bran. It takes a couple minutes but it's not hard and makes a flour midway between wheat and white.