Tammy belonged to a food co-op and had to put in her orders quarterly, with at least a week's lead time. I did buy some of her wheat to get me started, but we were in the process of moving around about that time and so I never really participated. When we landed out here in Denver I needed to find a source for wheat and ended up ordering from the wonderful Honeyville company, with its wide selection and $4.99 flat-rate shipping. A normal order for me is two 50-lb. bags of wheat, one soft white wheat and one hard white whole wheat, but since I normally use up the hard stuff first I will sometimes get two bags of that to one of soft. White wheat has a milder flavor than red wheat and many prefer it, so that's what I use. "Hard" and "soft" refer to the protein content. Basically, if you're making something with yeast you need to use hard flour, as it has the requisite protein to create the strands of gluten necessary to trap the carbon dioxide produced by the rising process. Anything else--muffins, pancakes, brownies, piecrust, biscuits, etc.--needs to have the soft wheat, as you want your final product to be tender. There will still be enough gluten produced to trap the air bubbles from your leavening. (Maybe I'll do a post at some point about how a gluten-free diet is the new hip thing, even if you're not gluten intolerant, and how crazy that is, but we'll leave it for later.)
The second piece of equipment that will make your breadmaking easy is, of course, a bread machine. I bought this new also, I believe from the King Arthur Flour Company, and it's probably ten years old. I use it constantly. I do have to admit that we tried two earlier ones, one of which tended to produce scorched-on-the-outside raw-on-the-inside round loaves (and I'd include the brand name if I were sure of it) and one that just wore out, as I remember (that one was a Breadman, but I don't know the model). We returned the first one and threw out the second. I had heard such great reviews of the Zojirushi BBCC X20 that I thought it was worth the money, and I think it has more than earned its keep. You can certainly find one used, either at a garage sale or on craigslist. If it looks new, it will probably last you a long time.
Okay. On to the recipe. If you come to my house for dinner, as people did yesterday, you will almost certainly be served these rolls if you're not served my famous breadsticks (scroll down in that post for the recipe). So, to start out with, the original recipe, again from the King Arthur Flour people, is called "Moomie's Beautiful Burger Buns," and is made with all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat and includes an egg, which I don't use because I think the texture of the rolls isn't as good. It also calls for butter, and, interestingly enough, I find that vegetable oil gives a better result. You can certainly use butter if you like. And . . . I use honey instead of sugar, but not because honey is any better for you than sugar. I just like the taste. So I give you . . .
Debi's Even More Beautiful Buns
3 1/4 cups flour--all-purpose if you're missing out on the wonderful flavor and texture of freshly-ground wheat for now, otherwise a heaping cup and a half of white whole wheat ground in your grain mill. I find that I get double the volume of flour from the wheat, but I've read other sources that say more like 1 1/2 times the volume, so you would need to measure what you get with your wheat and your mill for the first few times. Once you've figured it out, then you don't need to measure the resulting flour. Get the mill going while you measure the rest of the ingredients.
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
(Easiest way to do this is to use a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup, putting water and honey in first to their respective lines and then sort of guessing where the 1/3 cup of oil goes--it will be a little above the 1 1/2-cup line, say about 1/3 of the way to the 1 3/4-cup line. Exact measurements aren't necessary. Then nuke the whole thing for a minute, stir well, and pour into the bread machine.)
1 tablespoon yeast (I use Saf Red Instant yeast from KAF, but their shipping charges have gotten kind of outrageous. They used to base their charges on the actual weight of the item but then changed over to the dollar amount; the shipping on one $5.95 16-oz. bag of this yeast is $6.00. Of course I'd never do it that way; I'd always buy other things, too, but now I see that if I buy two packages of this yeast my shipping goes up to $8.00. Sorry, pals! That ain't gonna happen. Honeyville has it for $10.99 per pound, so I'm still paying about the same with them even with their much lower shipping charges. Guess I need to check out the Red Star yeast at Costco, but that will be awhile as I have some yeast in the freezer and an unopened package of SAF. Yeast at the grocery store is very expensive.)
3/4 tsp. salt
Dump everything into your bread machine and set it on the "dough" cycle. If you're using instant yeast you can use the "quick dough" setting; on my machine that takes 36 minutes. Watch the dough for the first few minutes to make sure it's doing okay; the moisture needs of dough can vary tremendously with the weather. People get irritated with bread machines because they think that every batch of dough is the same and they should be able to just walk away and let it do its work, but a couple of minutes' watching will tell you if you need more water or more flour. Then you can just let it go.
When the machine beeps, dump the dough out onto a baking sheet that's been sprayed with baking spray. Divide the dough into 12 portions if you're planning to have dinner rolls or more like 9 portions if you want to have hamburger or sandwich buns. You can see from the above picture that I don't worry too much about regularity. Spray the tops of the rolls with more baking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and turn your oven on to 400 degrees. I always use the convection setting on my oven, which automatically lowers the temperature 25 degrees. Either way, let the rolls rise about 15 minutes--again, with instant yeast. Regular yeast may take awhile longer. I've used SAF yeast for so many years that I don't know what other brands do. Apparently "rapid-rise" yeast is not the way to go, but I've found that the instant works beautifully.
When the 15 minutes are up, your rolls should be pushing up against the plastic wrap. Don't let them over-rise. (The original Moomie's recipe says that they should rise for an hour! That's way too long, as far as I'm concerned.) Bake for 8-10 minutes for the smaller rolls; 10-12 minutes for the bigger ones. Let cool on a rack, then pile them up in your bread basket and let the applause begin!