Sunday, October 5, 2014

Baking Bread at Home Week

Making Bread at Home I

      I don't think there is anything better than walking into a house where fresh bread is being made. The savory and sweet smell of toasting grain and melted butter on a cold day, what could be better? 

   ~ If you have been following my blog for the last three months after transitioning to my new site, you've probably browsed over my Sunday Brunch post. If you are looking for an excellent focaccia bread recipe I must selfishly implore you begin there. ~

     Today, we're going to make two whole wheat breads (one for bread machine)

Later this week, to celebrate the new site: Earl Grey bread, and Homemade Corn Bread. I'll also talk about baking ratios so you don't have to worry about exact recipes.

My Handworked 100% Whole Wheat Bread (Approx time 5 hours - hands on time  is about 30 minutes)
Rule 1: When in doubt, grease it...


  • 1 to 1 1/4 c. of lukewarm (temp cannot exceed 110 F or the yeast will die) water
  • 1/4 c. of either vegetable oil or melted butter (using butter will produce a slightly more dense bread)
  • 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I recommend King Arthur Flour)
  • 2 1/2 t. instant yeast
  • 1/4 c. nonfat powdered milk/baker's special dry milk
  • 1 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 2 - 3T. vital wheat gluten
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 t. baking powder (a non-aluminum containing powder for best results)
  1. Dissolve the yeast into 2 T. of the lukewarm water and allow to froth up a bit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. 
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead until the dough becomes smooth and supple (should take 5-8 minutes). The dough should, at this point, set but still be firm enough to knead.
  4. Transfer your dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover a warm, barely moist towel. Allow to rise until puffy and doubled. This will take 1 to 2 hours
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and gently shape into an 8" log. Place the loan in a greased bread pan, gently cover with plastic wrap (also greased) and allow to rise for another 1 to 2 hours. 
  6. When it comes near to the end of your rise time, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350F.
  7. Bake your bread for 20 minutes, initially, then tent with foil and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. (I do this to prevent over-browning) Technically we're cooking to temp when we bake our whole wheat bread. Ideally, we're going for 190F, if you're being precise, remove the bread once it 'temps' at 178F, as it rests, the temperature will continue rising for a time.
  8. When you remove the bread, immediately rub down the loaf with a light coat of butter - this will ensure the crust doesn't become overly hard. 
     Not so bad. It took longer than you expected, I'm sure, but the flavor is out of this world. Once you're comfortable making this basic whole wheat bread don't be afraid to get creative with it. Try this with any of the following: carmelized onions in - cheddar on top, fresh herbs, dried and fresh fruits (try dates - thank me later), or molasses in place of honey and cinnamon and nutmeg in the dough. 

<Ooops, just drooled on the keyboard, what's next?>

My Almost Whole Wheat Bread for Bread Machine
Rule 2: Bread machine ingredients are listed in order they are added...

  • 1 to 1 1/4 c. water (if dry, add the full 1 1/4 - if humid, stick to 1) (105 - 110 F)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 c. sifted whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 to 1 c. white bread machine flour
  • 2 1/2 T. vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 c. nonfat powdered milk
  • 2 t. yeast
  1. Add ingredients in the order indicated, leaving a small nest on the pile of milk powder for the yeast to sit in. You don't want it running and mixing with the other ingredients just yet.
  2. After adding the yeast select the wheat bread setting and then select light crust. 
  3. Once done, remove from the bread machine immediately and rub down the crust with butter to prevent hardening. 
Admittedly, this recipe is a LOT easier. I have to say the flavor of the bread machine bread is just as good but the texture isn't as nice as the handworked bread. If you have any questions or just need a little guidance, I'll be glad to answer any questions ASAP!

 Come back later this week for Earl Grey bread, Homemade Corn Bread, and the ratio rules for bread making. 


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