Ok, so it’s not Friday, but Foodie Friday sounds better than Foodie Saturday 😉
I’ve had a few people ask me how I make bread, or for a recipe. Well I don’t really have a recipe, I just make it, the same way my Dad, and my brother make it. I admit, I do buy bread, sometimes on a regular basis, and sometimes not often at all. It all depends on how busy my life it, and whether I’ve gotten in a home baked bread groove. Lately, since I’ve been home on Mat Leave, I’ve been baking it myself more than not. It is a huge treat, and I love knowing everything that goes into our bread.
Warm water in a mixing bowl. I have a kitchen aid mixer that I use to make bread. You don’t need a mixer at all, it just simplifies this first part, but it isn’t necessary. I don’t even use the dough hook on mine, I just use the mixer to mix the first ingredients together. Back to the warm water, I put about 2.5 cups of warm water in a bowl, I use 2.5 cups because this makes about 2 loaves of bread in my fairly large loaf pans. Next add the yeast to this, approx 1 package per loaf that you are making, or 2.5 tsp. I buy my yeast in large jars and store it in the freezer so that it lasts longer.
Next I basically just dump in the rest of the ingredients. The ratios vary a bit every time, I seldom measure anything. I start with some flour, approx a cup of white and whole wheat. Then I get the mixer going at a decent speed. The more you mix the flour the more the gluten is developed and the better texture your bread will have. I get enough flour so that it’s thick-ish but still liquid, and let the mixer run for a few minutes. Then I add the rest of the ingredients, about a half cup of a 8 -12 grain cereal mix (I used Red River today), 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/4 cup flax seed (I didn’t have any flax today 😦 ), 1/3 cup honey, 1/3 cup oil, and a palm-full of salt. Again I don’t measure any of this, I’m just guessing at quantities for your sake.
I then keep adding flour, I use about 50-50 whole wheat and white. My mixer is a smaller kitchen aid, and can’t handle all the flour for this much water, so when it starts to get more dough like, and the quantity of dough is starting to become too much for my mixer, I dump the dough out on a floured counter. I then start to knead in more flour – mostly white at this point. I knead the dough (adding flour as necessary) until it is just a bit sticky, and quite elastic. I try to err on the side of adding less flour, leaving the dough slightly sticky. You can’t knead the dough too much, but you can add too much flour. It also helps to have a good helper for dough kneading 🙂
Oil a large bowl, and put your dough into it, turn it over once or twice so that the top layer also has some oil on it. Cover it and put it in a warm place to rise. My oven has a Proofing setting, so that is what I use. You can also use your oven with the light on, or turn the oven on to a low temp for a few minutes before you put the bread in (but don’t for get to turn off the oven!! You can ask my Dad what happens if you don’t… 😉 ). Let it rise until doubled in size, or about an hour.
Once it is risen it should look like the dough below. You can now turn it back onto your floured surface and punch it down (basically just knead it again to get all the air bubbles out of it).
I then divide it into as many sections as you are going to make loaves (2 for me). I roll each section into a rectangle, and then roll them up tightly without leaving any gaps for air. Drop each rolled up loaf into a greased loaf pan. Cover the loaves of bread and put them back into your warm rising place for another 45 minutes or so until they’ve doubled in size.
Remove the risen bread from the oven if that is where it is rising. Preheat the oven to 375. I always bake bread on Convection so that it is more even, plus you can bake more loaves at once if you have convection on. It took these loaves approx 35 minutes to bake at 375, but the timing may be different depending on the size of your loaves. You know that they are done when you tap on the loaf and it sounds hollow. It also should come out a nice golden brown color.
Finally… it is the bakers prerogative to sample the first piece, I love the crust end of a warm loaf of bread with butter melted into it, mmmm!
If you’ve gotten this far, please let me know if these instructions have been easy to follow, or if you have any questions at all. Also I’d love to hear if you bake your own bread, or if you try my method!