Fresh, Homemade Bread
About 3 years ago I began baking bread. Homemade bread is something I always wanted to do, but felt like it was completely out of the realm of possibility. I grew up hearing horror stories from my mother and others about how their attempts at homemade bread never worked and always ended up flat. Needless to say, I never thought I could do it either. I mean if all of these other people couldn’t do it, how would I be able to?
So, here is the worst part…I never tried. How horrible is that! I never even tried! As a mom, my mantra to my kids has always been, ‘just try it’! How do you know you don’t like something or can’t do something if you NEVER try it? And I don’t mean, just try it once either. Often times you need to give something 2 or 3 tries, in different context, to make sure you don’t like it or can’t do it.
It made me realized, I wasn’t practicing what I preached. And so what if the homemade bread I made turned out flat. Isn’t that just a cracker? Or melba toast? Seems to me it’d be a win-win if it went flat. So I tried making bread. And you know what? It worked. It wasn’t great every time at first, but it sure as hell wasn’t bad. I kept trying and of course, my bread kept getting better.
My first recipe was made with 2 cups whole wheat flour and 5 cups white flour and it made 3 loaves. I did it all by hand and it was delicious! But, I wanted a bread that was healthier, so I kept replacing the whole wheat flour with stoned ground whole wheat flour, until I found a balance of deliciously nutty taste and health.
I now use a Kitchenaid and it has been worth it’s weight in gold. Using it I make 2 loaves of homemade bread every 3 or so days. It’s a real workhorse and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to start making dough on the regular. Also, I mass all my ingredients now. This post goes into the reasons.
Revised Recipe for Homemade Bread:
5 cups stoned ground whole wheat (770g)
1 tbsp salt (19g)
1 tbsp yeast (10g)
2 tbsp oil or melted butter (not hot) (28g)
1/4 cup honey (70g)
2-3 cup warm water (562.5 grams)
Homemade Bread Directions:
Mix all ingredients. I mass all dry ingredients and honey in this scale bowl, zeroing out between additions, and then add it all to the mixer. Add yeast and salt on opposite sides of bowl, as salt could retard yeast.
I pour 2 cups water into melted butter to cool it down and then pour it into the mixer.
Add rest of water to now empty butter pan and add more very slowly, until flour is just combined.
If you add too much water, throw in a little bit of flour.
You know you’ve reached the perfect balance when the dough pulls away from the sides like this.
If using a stand mixer mix on medium speed for 8-10 min. It’s that easy!
If using hands, flour surface and plop dough in it and start kneading. Add small amounts of flour as needed, only if dough is really sticky. Heel, push, fold, heel, push, fold, etc.
Repeat until dough is no longer sticky and passes the windowpane test (smush a piece of dough between your fingers and begin pulling it slowly between your fingers until its so thin its translucent.)
If it rips easily, it’s not ready and gluten hasn’t developed enough. My biggest issue when I started making bread is NOT kneading it enough and ending up with delicious bread that fell apart.
Don’t stop kneading, until windowpane test works because gluten won’t be developed!
Oil bowl (I oil the same bowl I mixed the dough in…cuz I’m lazy), form dough a ball, by pulling dough towards bottom. Plop dough in bowl and coat all sides in oil, throw a dish towel over bowl and let rise 1.5-2 hours or until doubled.
Punch down dough. Pull into 2 equal parts. Oil 2 loaf pans. Push dough into pan. Tuck dough down inner sides of pan to tighten the surface, which will help it rise.
Preheat oven to 400F. Let dough rise about 1 inch above pan.
Put in oven and turn down to 375F bake for 35 min.
When done take out of pan immediately. Brush top with butter. Let cool before you try and cut into it. Enjoy!
You can do this! You Can Make Homemade Bread. And I promise, it will be delicious!