Being the carb addict that I am, I love me a good hunk of fresh warm bread.
And then maybe a second.
Until about a year ago, I had only made bread by hand a few times and was less than impressed with the results. I did have a bread maker when I was first married, but was never really crazy about that either. It was yard saled after sitting without use for a few years. But then I challenged myself to not buy bread for at least a month; I had to make it instead. I knew that the challenge would cause me to try a few different recipes until I found one we all really liked. Since I was making bread entirely by hand, it couldn’t be a ridiculous amount of work either.
I met the challenge without any issue, and have bought only a few loaves in the year since then. I probably tried about 8 different recipes but for flavour, there was one I kept going back to. We all loved it and after some experimentation over the last few weeks, I’ve finally figured out how to make it a bit lighter and fluffier.
Oh my. Deeelish.
Yummy Homemade Bread
(Makes two loaves or 6 to 8 bread bowls.)
Place first three ingredients in mixing bowl (or bowl of stand mixer if you have one):
4 1/2 tsp yeast (or 2 packets)
2 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
a blob of honey (about a Tbsp)
Set a ten minute timer and go check in on a couple blogs. Maybe my friend Edie here. (Okay, so she’s not my really friend, but she knows I love her. I’ve told her so.) Or you could swing by and visit Tsh over at SimpleMom. I so enjoy her network of blogs. Both of these ladies are regular stops for me.
You should come back to a frothy mixture. To this, add:
a couple dollops of olive oil (about 2 Tbsp)
2 tsp salt (This is important! I forgot it last time and it wasn’t pretty.)
3 cups whole wheat flour Note: I’ve used various combinations of flours in this bread (multi grain, spelt, kamut) so feel free to experiment a little. Regular whole wheat is just what we use most often.
With dough hook, mix on speed 2 for two minutes. (Or mix with a spoon and then by hand when it gets a bit less sticky). While still mixing, add:
3 tsp vital wheat gluten (or not, but it seems to help a bit with the fluffiness)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour, add about a half cup at a time but only add enough for dough to just pull away from the bowl (likely 3 cups), so it is still a bit tacky to the touch
Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes in the mixer (speed 3), or remove from the bowl and knead by hand for about 8 minutes. (There is something so great about feeling the dough in your hands.)
Rub the inside of the bowl with a bit of olive oil and replace the dough. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and set timer for 40 minutes.
(By this time, we’ve started school so instead of blog hopping, I’m playing teacher.)
After 40 minutes the dough should double in size. Punch it down and divide in two. Shape slightly and place in two bread pans that have been lightly greased with olive oil.
Cover with damp tea towel again and let rise about 35 minutes longer. (About 25 minutes into second rise, preheat oven to 400 degrees.)
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Turn out onto butcher block, leave on side and rub a pad of butter along the top to soften.
By starting the yeast (in my lovely stand mixer bowl) between 9:00 and 9:30 am, I have fresh warm bread in time for lunch.
Here’s the reality. Bread is not hard to make. It’s does not require a lot of work. All it needs is someone to be around to move it from one step of the process to the next. It’s really not that big a deal. If you don’t make bread, just try it a couple times and you’ll see what I mean.
Bread made at home is healthier, it’s cheaper (for me, ingredients cost less than 70 cents per loaf), it tastes SO good and makes your home smell like a bakery. Totally worth a bit of effort in my mind.
Lisa has been Blessed With Grace. Visit her for more Tempt My them both for more great recipes.
Any great bread recipes or tips to share? Drop me a comment so I can keep experimenting…