March 30, 2015
If you can tolerate gluten, there is nothing quiet like fresh bread. I love making it as much as eating it. Since retiring, I have been making almost all our bread. Good hearty whole grain bread is not cheap to buy. When you are on a budget, making your own bread helps out.
Making bread is not hard, but it is a fairly lengthy process. And unless you have a bread maker or electric mixer with bread hooks, it will also require muscles for kneading the bread. Since we are living off the grid, when the sun is not shining, I need to roll up my sleeves and knead by hand. There is nothing like kneading dough to take away your troubles and put you in touch with the simple pleasures in life. However, when the sun is shining and there is lots of power coming in the solar panels, I can use my Mom’s electric bread mixer. It’s a Bosch and is capable of making a dough with up to 12 cups of flour, or enough to make four loaves of bread. Using the mixer makes a bread with a nicer texture, especially when using whole grains. I also have my Mom’s Magic Mill for grinding the flour from whole grain, but for right now I am buying my flour. Baby steps.
If you don’t have a mixer with dough hooks, don’t despair, you can make great bread by letting the gluten develop with time rather than kneading. I have providing directions for both methods below.
Full Proof Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from The Magic of Wheat Cookery
- 1 tablespoon regular dry yeast (not fast rising)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 6 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups hot water (tap hot not boiling)
- 1/3 cup honey or raw sugar
- 1/3 cup oil (I use olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- unbleached white flour (optional)
Dissolve the 1 tablespoon of raw sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water, then sprinkle on the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let sit in a warm place for 5 minutes until foamy. (note, if your yeast does not foam up, it is no good. Either it is old or the water was too hot. Throw it out and start again.) In a separate container, mix ground flax with 1/2 cup of warm water and let stand about 5 minutes.
If using a mixer with dough hooks: place 3 cups of whole wheat flour in the mixing bowl and add the hot water. Mix until well combined. Add honey, oil, salt and flax mixture. Mix in well. Add the yeast mixture and combine well. With the mixer running, slowly add additional whole wheat flour until the dough forms a nice ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. Continue to mix for 10 minutes. Remove dough from the mixing bowl on to floured or oiled surface. Form into 2 loaves of bread or 24 large buns. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in a warm place, about 45 minutes.
If kneading by hand: place 3 cups of whole wheat flour in a large bowl and add the hot water. Using a wooden spoon, mix until well combined. Add honey, oil, salt and flax mixture. Mix in well. Add the yeast mixture and combine well. Slowly add additional whole wheat flour and mix in until the dough becomes too stiff to work with the wooden spoon. (Note: When kneading by hand, using unbleached white flour for the remainder of the process will result in a lighter textured dough.) Continue adding flour and kneading in by hand until the dough forms a nice ball and is soft but not too sticky. Continue to knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface and your hands. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about 1 hour). Turn the dough out onto an oiled surface and form into 2 loaves of bread or 24 large buns. For buns, place on a lightly greased baking sheet or one covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. For bread loaves, place in lightly greased bread pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in a warm place, about 45 minutes.
Baking your bread or buns: Preheat your oven to 350F. Bake about 30 to 40 minutes for bread and 15 minutes for buns (it should be a nice golden color and produce a hollow sound when tapped). Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. (If the bread is sticking to the pan, let it sit for 5 minutes to steam up and then it should slide out easily.) Let bread cool completely then enjoy. There is nothing quite like the taste of bread fresh from the oven.