I grew up eating homemade wheat bread. My parents never bought a loaf of bread from the store. My mom made several loaves every week and my siblings and I ate it all. It was hearty, wholesome, healthy and so good. Homemade bread was my normal.
When I got married, I had to buy bread. The stores didn’t sell fancy breads, like they do now, all I had to choose from were different versions of Wonder Bread. It felt wrong. It tasted wrong and I hated the way white bread would always stick to the roof of my mouth.
I wasn’t quite sure how to fix the problem, because I wasn’t equipped to make bread. The thought of making bread seemed so daunting, but I hated buying store bread, so I decided to start making bread using a bread maker. I followed the recipe that came with the bread maker and I made my first loaf. It turned out pretty good. It was better than store bought bread, but still not as good as what I grew up with. It was kind of dry and crusty, and it was only one loaf.
As my family grew, I decided that I wanted to give them the same wonderful bread memories that I had growing up. Making one loaf of bread at a time wasn’t very efficient, so I called my mom and asked her what I needed. I followed her directions and made a few purchases. I worked and re-worked the recipe until I had it perfected.
Here are all of my secrets to making wonderful homemade whole wheat bread;
You need to get a real mixer. I know that people love their Kitchen-Aid mixers, but it will not make wonderful bread. I have had my Bosch Universal mixer for almost 20 years now (thanks Mom!), and it has never broken. Let me restate- I have been using this mixer several times a week for 20 years! The only other thing that has lasted this much use and abuse and still kept working is my husband! I have never had to repair it or replace any major parts. I have added multiple accessories, and duplicate bowls (because who likes to do the dishes?). To be honest, I really like the look of the new models, but I can not justify buying a new mixer, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with the one I have. I know it is expensive, but it is crucial if you intend on making good bread (and the blender attachment is powerful enough to make a great smoothie). Here is a link to a Bosch mixer on Amazon. If your budget was tight you could probably even find a used one online (I saw some on Ebay for $90).
If you want a light white bread taste, use hard white wheat (not red wheat). It tastes great, and it still has all of the benefits of red wheat. You need to grind it yourself. Grinding it makes the bread fresh and helps to preserve the vitamins in the wheat. I am on my second grinder, but this one has been working well for several years. If you can’t find hard white wheat locally, you can get Hard white wheat on Amazon.
You have to use good yeast. Do not use the tiny yeast packets or the flour with the yeast mixed into it. Buy good yeast, and store it in the freezer. It will keep longer and work better than if you keep it in the pantry. I buy Saf-Instant Yeast from Costco. Also, if your water is not the right temperature, the yeast will not function properly. The water needs to be the same temperature as a baby’s bath water, comfortably warm.
Honey. You can not make good whole wheat bread without honey. I usually go a little overboard on my honey. I don’t worry about being exact. Bonus; consuming local honey can help with seasonal allergies.
The last secret ingredient is dough enhancer. I have heard that you can use potato flakes and powered vitamin c, but who has that kind of stuff on hand? If you buy this giant canister, it will last you a very long time.
Okay, now that you know what you need, you can make great bread.
Here’s my recipe;
Melanie’s Wonderful Bread
Put the dough hook into the Bosch mixing bowl and add;
4 Tbl yeast
1 Tbl sugar
And 5 cups of baby warm water
Let that mixture just sit and bubble for about 3 minutes, while you begin grinding your hard white wheat. You will need to grind about
10 cups of hard white wheat total- two batches. When the first batch of ground flour is done, put it in a big bowl, and grind the second 5 cups.
While the yeast is growing and the wheat is grinding, into a two cup glass measuring cup measure-
1/2 cup oil
1 cup honey
2 Tbl salt
(by putting the oil in before the honey, it will help the honey will pour right out)
Go back to the yeasty growth in the Bosch bowl and add-
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 cups wheat flour (doesn’t need to be exact)
Put on the splash ring and turn the mixer on low (#1 setting) for just a minute.
While that is mixing, add-
4 Tbl dough enhancer
to your bowl of ground flour
Now go back to the mixer, turn it off and pour in the oil, honey and salt mixture. Once that is all in bowl, you will need to turn it back on low, and start adding the flour (mixed with the dough enhancer).
You will need to add a total of around 12 cups of wheat flour (you have already added 3 cups). I don’t usually end up using all of the flour that I ground, but that is good, because I use the excess to make buttermilk pancakes.
The dough will start off runny and slowly get more and solid. Once you have added about 8 cups of flour (12 total), you can stop the mixer and check to see if it is the right consistency. You will know when you have added enough flour because the dough in the mixer will be mixing lopsided, throwing the dough from one side of the bowl to the other. If the dough is mixing evenly, or if it is sticky, slowly add more flour, but don’t over do it.
Once you have the dough at the right consistency, just let the mixer do it’s thing. Let it knead the dough for a full 10 minutes.
While that is kneading, grease 5 glass bread pans. I use a pastry brush and Crisco. Make sure all of the sides and bottom are well covered, it will make the bread come out easier.
After you have greased, and the Bosh has done 10 minutes of kneading, you can dump the dough onto an oiled counter.
If you have time, you can cover that dough with a thin towel and let it rise for an hour. I never have that kind of time, so I shape my bread right after I dump it out of the mixing bowl.
Divide the dough into five blobs and then flatten each blob into a rectangle. Use your knuckles to press out any air bubbles (otherwise you will have weird empty holes in the finished bread). Roll up the rectangle of dough, pinch the sides and ends together and put it in the greased pan (pinched side down). Repeat the procedure for all five loaves.
Okay, now that the bread is in the pan you can go do something else for an hour (like shower and brush your teeth).
If you happen to have a husband who likes to keep the temperature of the home at 65 degrees year-round (I live with a hoodie on inside the house), then you might need to help your bread rise.
To speed the rising process, heat the oven to 200 degrees for 5 minutes and then turn it off. Put the bread into the warm oven and cover it with a towel and leave the oven door open. It will give the bread a nice warm place to rise, before cooking it.
After about an hour, the bread should have risen to the top of the pan.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees and then cook the bread.
Cook the bread for about 37 minutes (if you don’t like the crust to get too brown, put a foil tent over the top of it for the last 15 minutes of cooking).
When the timer goes off, take out the bread remove it from the pan. Place the finished bread it on it’s side to cool. Cover the bread with a slightly damp, thin towel, to keep the outside from getting hard and crusty.
When it is completely cool, you can put your delicious bread into a bags. It should last about 2 weeks (but I’m not really sure, because mine always gets eaten before the end of the first week).
Hot out of the oven, the bread is especially good with lots of honey and butter.