baking,  homesteading,  recipes

The Best Bread Ever!

 

Who doesn’t love warm, homemade bread, straight from the oven? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?  I can’t think of a single person who would say no to a thick slice of fresh bread slathered in butter, and maybe some honey. Are you ready to spoil your tastebuds? Read on…

When I clumsily started honing my homemaker skills, learning how to make homemade bread was at the top of my list.  I started with a white bread that was easy to make but probably not super healthy. Eventually I moved on to my Mother-in-law’s recipe for honey, whole-wheat bread. She has since moved onto sourdough, which I haven’t had the patience to master. Maybe one day…maybe. If I’m being honest, I probably won’t because this honey, whole-wheat bread is just.that.amazing!

And you know what else? It’s not that hard! I guarantee that if I ever post recipes on this blog, they will be easy enough that anyone can do it. Truly. Cause I’m all about making things as simple as possible. The first time you make this recipe, especially if you’re a bread-newbie, there may be some cause for trepidation. But I promise (cross my heart and hope to die), that after doing it once, maybe twice, you’ll be wondering why you were intimidated at all.

Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

Ingredients:

*5 C whole wheat flour

*I C ground flax seed

*I C 9- cracked grain

*1/4 C wheat gluten

*1/3 C oil mixed with 2/3 C warm water

*5 more C warm water

*2 T SAF instant yeast

*1 1/2 T salt

*2/3 C sweetener (honey is preferred, but if you’re out, use brown sugar)

*10ish more cups flour (see how precise I am?)

 

Directions:

Grind your wheat! If you don’t have a wheat-grinder, you can buy whole wheat flour at the store.

Throw in the first 6 ingredients into your Bosch and mix for a few minutes. If you don’t have a Bosch, you can do it by hand. I did for years. It’s just a lot more labor intensive. Also a note on the ground flax seed: You can buy it pre-ground at the store, however I’ve found it to be cheaper if I just buy flax seed and then grind up a cup in my cheap little coffee grinder.

Add in the yeast, salt and honey. My Mother-in-law swears it has to be SAF brand. I’ve never tried it with another brand, I’m too scared! So I can’t vouch for the validity of other yeasts. Mix for a few minutes.

While the mixer is going, start adding in cups of flour. I like to alternate one cup white flour, one cup wheat flour. You can make it truly all whole wheat bread, but it will be a bit more dense. I add in a few cups of white flour to make it more fluffy. This part is the only really tricky part. Make sure you only add enough flour until it starts pulling away from the sides of the mixer, or until it isn’t so sticky on your hands, if you’re kneading by hand. For years I added WAY too much flour, and I was basically baking 5 delicious bricks every month or so. The more you do it, the more confident you’ll be in your ability to judge when enough flour is enough. Until then, ere on the side of too little flour.

Turn your mixer to the second speed and mix for 8 minutes. Or knead by hand on a floured surface for 8 minutes. Turn off your mixer and let it rise for at least 10 minutes

After this first rise, take it out and knead it for a minute or so on an oiled surface. Just enough kneading to get those pesky air bubbles out. Knead it too much, and you’re bread will be a lot tougher.

Divide your batch into 5 loaves. I just kind of eyeball it and then pick up each section of dough to see if they all feel about the same. Very scientific, yes? Then shape each ball into a loaf. This part will also take some practice until you can get your loaves to both taste delicious AND look pretty. I just knead it once or twice, then tuck all the unsightly bits under the bottom. Place your loaf into a greased bread pan and put straight into a cold oven.

Turn the oven on to 170 degrees and set your timer for 20 minutes.

After that second rise, without taking your loaves out of the oven, just increase the temperature to 350.  They will need to bake for another 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Ta-Da! You now have 5 loaves of delicious, nutritious, golden-brown, mouth-watering bread! While they’re still hot, brush the tops with butter to make them really stand out.

Pop them out of their pans and let cool. Then see how long you can wait before cutting a slice and layering it with thick butter and sweet jam. Trust me, it won’t be long!

We usually go through one loaf the day I make this batch. Another loaf waits patiently in the pantry for the next day, 1 more loaf will get delivered to someone in the neighborhood, and the remaining 2 loaves head downstairs to the chest freezer. This bread freezes really well, but I would recommend letting it thaw out naturally as opposed to microwaving it when you need to defrost it. Microwaving it changes the texture, but it will still do the trick in a pinch.

Happy bread making!

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