Baking Bread - Montana Style
Ever wonder where bread comes from? Sure, everyone knows you get bread at the grocery store, but where do they get it? How is it made? Montana is part of the Bread Basket of the Nation. The Bread Basket is where the majority of our Nations' wheat is grown. What, might you ask, does wheat have to do with bread? Ever hear of whole wheat bread? That's right. Bread is made from wheat. In fact, there is enough wheat produced each year in Montana that if made into bread it would go to the moon and back 5 times!
There are five main types of wheat: durum, hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, and white. A kernel of wheat is approximately 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long, about the same size as a grain of rice. A kernel is made up of the endosperm, the bran, and the germ. The endosperm is the majority of the kernel and is ground into white flour, the bran is the hard outer shell that is usually used to make animal food, and the germ is the smallest part of the kernel, which if planted would produce more wheat. Wheat contains vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy. In fact, wheat has been termed the "staff of life" because it is so good for you!
Wheat generally takes anywhere from seven to twelve months to grow, depending on the type. The farmer uses a combine to "pick" the wheat out of the fields and then dumps the kernels into a large truck that will haul them to the mill. Once at the mill the kernels are tested to see what kind of flour they will be used for, then they are separated and put through a heavy duty cleaning system. After all of the dirt and rocks have been cleaned away, the wheat is crushed between large rollers and then shaken over many screens or sifters. The wheat is repeatedly sent through this process of the purifier, roller, and sifter until it is ground into a fine brown powder we call flour.
The flour is shipped to bread making factories, restaurants, and grocery stores, and then the flour is mixed with other ingredients to make bread. Would you like to learn to make your own bread? Follow this simple recipe with the help of an adult and you will get to see a masterpiece "rise" right before your eyes!
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in water, let sit 10-12 minutes.
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 tsps. fast acting yeast
- 2 tsps. of sugar
- Add to yeast water
- 2 tsps. salt
- 3 tbls. shortening
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- Add 1-3 cups more flour until dough won't stick to sides of bowl anymore.
- Knead dough until it is very elastic and smooth (about 125 strokes).
- Roll into two balls, place on greased cookie sheets.
- Let rise one hour in warm place until double in size.
- Bake at 400 for about 30-35 minutes.
- Eat and enjoy!
Thank you to Agriculture in Montana Schools for providing much of this information.
Visit montanakids.com's Agriculture and Business section to read more about wheat.