Homemade Wheat Bread From Scratch | Rebecca Baer® Artful Living: Homemade Wheat Bread From Scratch

09 February 2012

Homemade Wheat Bread From Scratch

Do you hate the dry, cardboard-like nature of store bought wheat bread?  Me too, which is why I don't buy it.  Instead, I make my own wheat bread with a fresh, wonderful flavor.  Like so many other things, I found that I don't dislike wheat bread; I dislike the mass-produced facsimile that passes for wheat bread.  What makes my bread so amazing, you might ask?  The secret is in the flour.  I grind my flour from whole wheat berries when I make the bread, not before.  Wheat flour can taste old, and store bought wheat flour often already has that cardboard essence. 

Grinding wheat to make bread may sound daunting but it is much easier than it sounds.  A few minutes and a grain mill, and you're all set.  Even better, when you buy wheat berries in bulk, your bread is so cheap it quickly makes up for the purchase of the mill.  I have a tendency to be hard on appliances so I save my pennies to buy good quality.  I use a NutriMill Grain Mill and have had it for six or seven years and it still works well.  The Grain Mill Attachment for a kitchen aid stand mixer is a more economical option.

If you are mixing the batches in a mixer then you can just make as many batches as you have loaf pans to fill, or make rolls.  This recipe make two large loaves or about sixteen dinner rolls.

Ingredients
3/4 cup hot water (zap for 1 minute)
1/2 cup cold milk (canned milk works just as well)
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. Peanut oil (or lard)
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. Honey
2 1/2 tsp. Saf-Yeast
1 3/4 c. (or more--see "variables" below) Freshly ground wheat flour
1/4 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1 1/2 cup King Arthur Bread Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

For your convenience I've included some links (bold text) for ingredients that may be harder to find, but be sure and check locally at a bulk food store if one is in your area.


Prepare the loaf pans by greasing (or spraying with oil) and lining with a sling of parchment paper.  I do this only once and rarely need to re-grease for subsequent batches.


Method

Place in the bread machine in the order listed.  select the dough setting and press start.  If you are not using a bread machine start with the wet ingredients and gradually add the flour until the dough comes together then switch to the dough hook.  Add any of the remaining pre-measured flour.  Only use the extra cup (or a portion thereof) if you need it.  Mix until the dough becomes elastic.  For the mixer method allow the dough to rise once (until doubled) in a lightly oiled bowl before shaping and placing in prepared pans.  Set the oven on 325 degrees to preheat as the dough rises in the loaf pans.

Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.  Use the parchment sling to lift the loaves from the pans and set to cool on a wire rack.  You can reuse the same parchment slings for each batch.



Variables

Variation in egg size can result in a wet dough.  Sometimes I toss other grains into the mill and the moisture absorption rate is different than the wheat, which can also result in wet dough. You can tell as soon as it pulls together in the machine or mixer.  In this case you can add up to a cup more wheat flour until your dough isn't super-wet looking. 


Time saving strategies
Cinnamon Raisin topped with butter!
Whenever I make bread I make 10-16 loaves depending on how much of the day I want to spend on the task.  I freeze it for convenience (who wants to make bread every other day?).  I can make bread all day while continuing to be productive in other areas.  I do this by using my bread machine set on dough to make two-loaf batches (I know--grind your own wheat and then use a bread machine somehow seems incongruous--but it works for me).  I pre-measure all dry ingredients and stack the containers on the counter.  I use small dishes to pre-measure the honey and oil and line those up on the counter.  I place one whole egg and one yolk in separate dishes and stack these in the fridge.  The only items not pre-measured are the water and the milk.

I heat the water and add the milk as described above and add this to the pan in the bread machine then add my wet ingredients (honey, oil and eggs) then my dry ingredients (flour mixture, salt and yeast) close the lid and push start.  The dough cycle takes 1 hr. and 28 min.  During this time I go about doing what I do.  The machine will be to let me know it's done.

When the dough is ready I dump it on the counter, separate it into two pieces and shape it before placing it into prepared loaf pans and turn the oven on to preheat.  I set these on a radiator to rise if the heat is on.  Otherwise I set then on the stovetop to use the warmth from the oven vent to encourage the rise.

I then immediately re-load the bread machine with the next set of pre-measured ingredients.  By the time this round is done, the loaves have risen and can be put in the oven.  Two more loaves are formed and put into pans to rise and the next batch goes into the bread machine.  I return to doing what I do until I have to remove the finished loaves from the oven or start the next round.  I continue this sequence rotating everything through each time a batch of dough is finished.  It takes less that 10 minutes in the kitchen to remove the dough, shape the loaves and start the next batch.

Mix it up!

Near the end of mixing you can toss it things to make  each batch a bit different.  For cinnamon swirl bread I added some golden raisins then rolled the dough into rectangles to sprinkle with cinnamon.  Roll with the cinnamon in the middle to form the loaves.  Other options include nuts, herbs, sundried tomatoes, chopped kalamata olives the choices are endless.

Upcycle how to: Create an instant Hamburger Bun Pan.

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