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Grows her own bread grains

By Staff | Mar 7, 2014

CATHY CARLSON, of Coulter, poses with a baking sheet of whole wheat buns from her own grain.

COULTER – Surrounded corn and soybean farms in Franklin County is the 5-acre wheat field on the Dennis and Cathy Carlson farm southeast of Coulter.

A few years back, the Carlsons bought land for expanding their Christmas tree farm. They planted the wheat field because those acres would not be used for growing trees right away.

Carlson said she decided to plant wheat and, equipped with nothing more than curiosity, learned about growing and harvesting the small grain.

First, she said she picked a hard red spring variety because gluten properties made it suitable for bread.

As word spread through the neighborhood that the Carlsons were planting a field of wheat, neighbors stepped forward with assistance.

THESE WHOLE WHEAT buns serve well with butter and jelly.

When the wheat was nearing maturity, a neighbor offered to windrow the crop.

Another neighbor, with a small combine he used for oats, provided the combining.

Carlson said she was uncertain about cleaning the wheat when she learned there was a fanning mill in nearby Hampton that would do the job.

In addition to being paid for their services, these neighbors received caramel rolls made with the wheat that eventually became flour.

Mourning doves moved into the Carlson wheat field after the combine work, Carlson said, “thousands of them.”

After four years of growing wheat, the yield has gone from 35 bushels an acre to almost 50 in 2013.

Carlson packaged the grain in 50-pound bags.

Grinding the wheat into flour was next. She bought a flour mill with a 50-pounds-per-hour capacity.

Nothing is removed from her wheat flour, she said. The flour needs to be kept frozen as it is preservative-free.

“It is basically what your grandma used to make,” Carlson said.

Her grandmother’s cookbook from 1919 has provided guidance in baking with whole wheat flour.

Besides those recipes, it tells how to measure when the oven is at the right temperature – “if you can leave your arm in the oven while counting to 20 without singeing the hair on your arm, it is the right temperature. If you can leave your arm in the oven past 20, it is too cool.”

The cookbook also tells how to make yeast from hops, beer or potatoes, and how to make baking powder and baking soda.

The heart of the Carlson farm is their lodge where activities take place throughout the year.

It is equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and a loft where people can spend the night. There is an activity area in the rear.

Carlson wants people to know where food comes from and to appreciate nature; she said the lodge is a popular place for field trips for area school classes.

There have been 700 students from six area schools who have learned about food production at the Carlson lodge, she said, listing visitors as Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs and residents of retirement homes.

Less than a mile from the Carlson farm is St. John Lutheran Church, where one year the vacation Bible school had the theme “To Walk Where Jesus Walked.”

Students walked pulling carts to the Carlson farm where they started with sheaves of wheat, separated the wheat using methods from Biblical times, ground it into flour with stones, and at the day’s end were able to eat food from the flour they made.

At the end of the day, they decided that this was a lot of work.

Carlson holds two-hour classes to teach young women how to use whole wheat in their baking.

“A lot of young women want to cook healthy, but don’t know how to do it,” she said.

Last year, she said, they tried making flour from sweet corn. The sweet corn was left in the field to dry before grinding.

Sweet corn flour has its own sweetness, said Carlson, and the amount of sugar in a recipe can be reduced or eliminated.

This year, the Carlsons are planning on planting rye for flour.

“I am like the Little Red Hen,” said Carlson. “Only I share the wheat.

“Every baker should have their own wheat field.”

60-minute rolls

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cups of unsifted white flour (mix the flours together before starting the recipe)

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar (or use 3 tablespoons of honey)

2 packages active dry yeast (rapid rise yeast recommended)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup margarine

Combine milk, water, and margarine in a saucepan.

Heat over low heat until liquid is 120 degrees.

Margarine doesn’t need to be melted.

In a large bowl measure 1 1/2 cup of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix thoroughly and gradually add the heated ingredients.

Beat 2 minutes at a medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.

Add 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed.

Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes.

Make your favorite rolls.

Cover and let rise in a warm place free from draft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cathy’s caramel rolls

2 packages rapid rise yeast

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

2 cups of lukewarm milk

1/3 cup margarine or butter

1/3 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg

2 cups whole wheat flour

4 1/2 cups to 5 1/2 cups white flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cups margarine or butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup margarine or butter melted

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

In mixing bowl, add 2 cups of whole wheat, salt, baking powder, sugar, yeast and stir together.

In a sauce pan, melt 1/3 cup margarine or butter, add water and milk.

Heat to no more than 115 degrees or warm enough for a baby to drink.

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients, mix thoroughly. Add remaining flour one cup a time until the dough is easy to handle.

Turn dough onto well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes (you might now use all of the flour called for and that is OK).

Place in a greased bowl and let rise to double for about an hour.

Heat brown sugar and 1/2 cup of melted margarine; remove from heat and stir in corn syrup.

Add to a well-greased baking pan and sprinkle with pecans. Punch down dough and roll into a rectangle roughly18-by-24 inches.

Spread melted margarine over rolls, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Roll up and cut into 24 1-inch slices and place in pan. Let rise until double.

Bake at 350 degrees for 24 to 30 minutes depending on oven.

After baking, invert pan onto freezer paper and let it set 2 minutes so sauce goes on rolls.

Makes 2 dozen.

Country bread

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

1 cup warm milk (100 to 115 degrees)

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3 eggs

5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, salt, ginger, 2 eggs and 3 cups of flour.

Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured-surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into six pieces.

Shape each into a 12 inch rope. Braid three ropes; pinch ends to seal them.

Tuck them under.

Repeat with remaining dough. Place in two greased 8-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pans.

Cover and let raise until double.

Beat remaining egg. Brush over dough.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from pans to wire rack to cool.

Honey white loaves

2 packages active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

11/2 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1 tablespoon salt

8 to 9 cups all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add butter, honey, eggs, salt and 4 cups flour.

Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 3 minutes.

Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Divide into thirds. Shape into loaves.

PIace in three greased 8-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove pans to wire racks to cool.

Yields three loaves.

Hearty raisin bread

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

1 1/2 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)

1/2 cups butter or margarine, melted

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons salt

11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 eggs

3 cups whole wheat flour

31/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups raisins

1 egg white

2 tablespoons cold water

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.

Add the milk, butter, honey, salt, cinnamon, eggs and whole wheat flour.

Beat until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a soft, dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; sprinkle with raisins and knead them in.

Divide in half. Shape into loaves. Place in two, greased, 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Beat egg white with cold water and brush over dough.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly.

Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yields two loaves.

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