Mmmmm…bread. I love it! But if you do some label reading in the store, you’ll find that it is really hard to find bread products out there without icky things in them. Its rare to find them without high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial preservatives, or other refined sugars [among other things!].
So because of that, for the past 2.5 years I have been making about 95% of the bread products we use in our home. In fact pretty much the only thing I’ve been buying still are whole wheat tortillas…I do make them sometimes but its been nice to have those on hand. I have to experiment more with recipes and finding some that maybe freeze well so I can stock up when I make them.
Anyway, today I’m talking bread – as in loaves of delicious, fresh baked bread! I have had lots of people ask me to share the recipe I use. This recipe has been in a work in progress over the last 2.5 years. But I think I’ve hit on what works now. My family loves it – even my young girls who can be particular at times. 🙂 And even better – it really doesn’t take that much hands on time. Most of the time it takes is waiting for it to mix/rise or bake. Your “active” time is just throwing ingredients in a bread machine and quickly shaping the dough into loaves.
Some recipe notes…
- The beauty of this recipe is that it has some room for customization. When I started making bread, we were using the Sara Lee Soft White Wheat bread. I knew I couldn’t jump head first into 100% whole wheat and expect the kids to be all “yay!!!!!!” So I worked with this recipe over time. The recipe calls for 3 c flour. I started out doing half and half and the every couple weeks I would increase the wheat amount and decrease the white amount. Now we do it ALL wheat flour.
- I use white wheat flour to make 99% of what I cook/bake here. It is widely available [yes even at Walmart]. I buy the Gold Medal brand but there are lots of brands you can find it in. Regular whole wheat flour [what you typically have bought] is from the hard red wheat variety. White Wheat Flour [also whole grain] is from the white wheat berries. It is still 100% whole grain, but the texture and color are lighter than standard wheat flour. This means it tastes less “wheaty” and to me seems a little lighter [both in texture and flavor].
- Please listen to me – I know it will go against all you love to do – but do NOT cut the bread until it is fully cooled. If you’ve ever cut a warm loaf, you’ve seen the steam rise out. When that steam rises out, your bread is losing that moisture. When you allow it to cool first, all of that moisture is trapped in your bread, making it more moist and making it last longer. Exceptions of course are if you are planning to eat most of a loaf immediately [hopefully not on your own! 😉 ] or if you just really can’t help yourself. 😀
- For the yeast. I have used both regular and instant [in the quantities I specify in the recipe] and both work fine.
- I gave up using cooking spray due to icky things in it. At first I found that my bread stuck AWFUL when I buttered the pans. Then I realized that all I had to do was leave the bread in the pan for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven and it comes out like a dream!
I make my bread dough using my bread machine. So I apologize that right now I don’t have a recipe for NOT using a machine for dough. I promise to work on this, but I need to look into it first to make sure I get the technique right.
So now for the instructions… Set your breadmaker to the dough setting. This is pretty much all I use my bread machine for. I haven’t baked a loaf in this for years. I don’t like the weird/big shapes they make.
Put all of the ingredients in your bread machine [I do them in the order I listed below, but check your bread machine in case it has different suggestions]. Then start up the machine and let it do its thing. Mine takes 1.5 hrs. When it beeps, butter your loaf pans, then take out your dough…
And form it into a rectangle that is about the width of your loaf pan. I don’t use flour or a rolling pin. Just pat it with your hands.
Next fold up the bottom edge to just over center, then fold the top edge down to overlap.
I make a double batch of this at once in my bread machine [which is why there are two loaf pans above]. After they have baked and cooled, I wrap one in plastic wrap and put it in 2 freezer ziplocks and freeze it. We use the other loaf and then when I’m ready for a new one, we take it out to thaw. It’s never in the freezer more than a week so I’ve not had any issues with freezer burn, dry texture, etc.
And for a nicer, printable version of this recipe…
- 1 c milk, warmed slightly
- 1 egg
- 2½ T unsalted butter, melted
- 2 T honey
- 1 t sea salt
- 3 c whole wheat flour [I use white whole wheat]
- 1¼ t instant/bread machine yeast OR 2¼ t regular yeast
- Place all ingredients, in order, into the bread machine. Turn machine to dough setting and start.
- When the machine finishes, punch down the dough and turn out onto the counter [you can lightly flour it if the dough is a touch sticky]. Flatten the dough and pat into a rectangle about the length of your loaf pan.
- Fold ⅓ of the bottom up and then fold the top ⅓ down to slightly overlap at the seam. Pinch the seam a bit to seal. Flip over and place in a greased loaf pan.
- Cover with a light towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-45 min, or until it is an appropriate "bread" size.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375. Bake risen loaf for 23-26 min or until nicely browned and it sounds hollow when you tap on it. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
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