Whole Wheat Bread from Scratch

Photo taken of bread still frozen … forgot to do this while it was fresh.

(Looking for the bread recipe, skip my ramblings and go to the end of the page for the details.)

Over the years making bread is something I’ve often ‘talked’ about doing. In fact, more than 20 years ago my brother promised to buy me a bread maker if I ever got married … obviously trying to shut me up! Lo and behold when my now-husband, then-boyfriend, and I finally tied the knot 19 years ago, our wedding present was a bread maker!! Surprise, surprise ūüôā

The bread maker was a great gift and we used it on and off in our early years of marriage. I’m sure bread makers are different today but back then I had a problem with what I considered was a ‘bread maker taste’ to the bread … I think it was the special yeast.

Anyhow, fast forward many years and, once again, off and on, ¬†my husband and I have talked about baking our own bread. My wonderful in-laws … slight sidebar here about my 86 year old mother-in-law who STILL makes amazing jam, salsa and the best dill pickles you’ve every tasted for us each year!. She also does a bunch of Christmas baking for us every year!! Shameful, I know, but seriously, she insists on doing it! She does it for her daughter’s family, my sister-in-law, too. This isn’t the only thing that makes them wonderful in-laws, but this is pretty special … but¬†I’m getting way off topic here.

Back to the bread. My in-laws have been making their own bread for years. About two¬†years ago, they decided to upgrade their grain grinder (yes, they grind their own grain for all their baking!!) and lucky for me I inherited their perfectly good but older grain grinder.¬†Since then, most of my baking is done using grain we grind ourselves … I love it and it makes me feel, I don’t know, like I’m doing something good. It’s not much extra work and we feel like its worth it.

But, again, back to the bread. Finally, about two months ago, I started making our bread. Delicious, bread make with our own ground flour from prairie grown organic (hard red) grain.

What has surprised me is how easy it is to do! it isn’t as work intensive or time consuming as I imagined it would be. In fact, it is quite simple. Especially when I consider that the first couple of times I did it the process got a bit off track due to a misunderstanding with the recipe … the dough was a lot wetter/doughy than¬†it was meant to be due to less flour than should have been added. But, the bread was still delicious!! I’ve often thought that bread making is an art and I’m sure with some bread it is, but quite honestly, this bread is pretty difficult to mess up.

The key to this being so easy was the use of our food processor. A Kitchen Aid and dough hook did most of the work. No kneading by hand. The one challenge is that our food processor is not quite large enough for the full recipe, but I do it anyway. I then transfer the dough into a MUCH larger bowl before I set the dough aside to rise. We end up with 4 loaves, my mother-in-law ends up with 5. Likely due to the size of the pans.

TIP for making it easier to get the bread out of the pans:

When preparing your bread pans grease them with something like butter and then slosh flour around in the pan until¬†it covers all the areas where the grease is. Then toss the flour into the next bread pan, and so on, until you’re done. Then toss the flour or use it for something else.

This will make it easier to get the bread out of the pans! I’ve tried parchment paper and found it frustrating to use and just grease on its own left the bread sticking to the sides of the pans and difficult to get out. The butter¬†with the floured sides works best for me. I then take a small, hard, thin, non-scratch type of spatula to run around the sides of the pan. After doing this the bread easily comes out.

To clean the pans simply add hot water to the pans for a few minutes. The butter will melt off the sides, along with the flour, and the pans are then easy to wipe clean.

Florence’s Bread Recipe

(This recipe can easily be halved.)

  • 12 to 13 cups of whole wheat flour (roughly 9 cup of grain ground in a grain mill)
  • 6 cups of warm water (12o to 130 degrees … I don’t test by temperate but instead use my finger to test the water and see if it is slightly warm or lukewarm)
  • 2/3 cup of oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) salt
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) yeast (good quality!)

Directions for making Florence’s Bread Recipe

  1. Use a whisk to mix together 6 cups of flour and yeast in a separate container.
  2. Put dough hook on KitchenAid type mixer.
  3. Add lukewarm water to mixer bowl.
  4. Add the flour and yeast mixture (#1) to the lukewarm water and mix together for 1 minute.
  5. Add oil, honey, eggs and salt.
  6. Turn on mixer (I use low speed) and quickly add remaining flour, one cup at a time until dough forms a ball and cleans the side of the bowl (I’ve had a hard time with this happening … the dough never seems to come away from the side of the bowl … but the bread STILL tastes great.)
  7. Knead in mixer with dough hook for 7 to 10 minutes
  8. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled LARGE bowl (so dough doesn’t stick to sides), then cover it with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes or so.
  9. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 150 degrees
  10. When dough has finished rising, divide it into equal portions (somewhat shaped) among the bread pans
  11. Place bread into the preheated (no more than 150 degrees) oven and leave it to rise until about double in size, about 25 to 30 minutes
  12. Remove bread from oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees
  13. Bake bread for 30 to 35 minutes
  14. Remove immediately from bread pans and let cool on a wire rack
  15. Once bread is cool: slice and freeze or slice and refrigerate or store unsliced

Enjoy!

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