I recently had the same desire to produce a well balanced smoked beer. I wanted to make a smoked Amber Ale, with the smoke adding a level of complexity to the beer as opposed to dominating the beer. I also wanted to smoke the malt myself, as opposed to just buying smoked malt - figuring I could control things a little better+ have some fun with it. If it was too little or too much smoke, I could adjust my process next time to dial things in.
Since I wanted a less aggressive smoked character, I used apple wood to smoke my malt. I spread out about 15% of my base malt(Marris Otter) on a cookie sheet. I then lightly misted the uncrushed grain with spring water (I did not want any chlorine present). Being careful to keep the temperature between 175-200 degrees, I smoked the malt over the apple wood for about an hour, lightly misting and stirring the malt every 10 minutes for a total of about an hour. I am really happy with the result. The smoked character is definitely there, its smooth and it fades, allowing the taste of the Wyeast West Yorkshire Ale yeast that I used to come through.