I love to make bread! It smells good. It tastes good. Wheat – the staff of life.
The recipe I use now is a variation of the one my mom used when she taught me to make bread when I was in high school many years ago. She still makes some at Christmas time. It brings back good memories.
I keep my favorite recipes on index cards in a little file box. I guess you can tell I have used this one for a while. It looks a little worse for the wear. I have listed the ingredients for a single batch that makes two nice loaves and a few rolls, as well as a double batch when I want more.
A friend asked me what the difference was in the flavor of bread that is made with 100% fresh ground whole wheat flour and my usual recipe of 50% fresh whole wheat and 50% unbleached white flour. I told her the 100% whole wheat is a much heavier bread. This time I am going to make the 50/50. Later on I will make the 100% whole wheat and show the difference.
First we grind the wheat. I use a Wonder Mix set on pastry or the finest setting. It has a whining jet engine kind of sound, so you have to be ready for some noise.
I like to grind the wheat when I make bread. Fresh ground wheat flour has a higher nutrient content than the flour at the store. As soon as wheat is ground, it starts losing nutritional value and I think fresh ground tastes better.
I start off heating half of the milk with the shortening in it so it will melt. I used the microwave. I have also heated it in a pan on the stove many times.
While that is heating, I measure out the honey and pour it in the mixing bowl.
Then, using the little bit of honey that is left in the measuring cup, I add the warm water and the yeast. This lets the yeast soften and start to bubble up.
Next add the eggs, salt and whole wheat flour to the mixing bowl. After the yeast is bubbling up, add it into the bowl.
I buy the yeast at a warehouse market by the pound and keep it in the freezer. After I open it, I keep it in this small canister in the frig.
When everything is mixed well, add the white flour .
When it gets to this point, I turn it out onto the counter and start to knead. I used to knead it only until it was nice and smooth.
I found out from a friend recently that if you knead the bread for about 10 minutes it will be less crumbly – a complaint we had about my bread for years. It is so nice to learn new, useful things!
When you finish kneading, the dough should be just a little sticky, but not enough to come away on your finger when you poke it. Coat the mixing bowl with shortening, put the dough in, then turn it over to coat it with shortening.
Put it in a warm place or on top of the refrigerator covered with a warm, damp towel to rise.
It will take about an hour or two to double in size depending on the temperature in the room.
Isn’t it beautiful? Silly question, huh? I like the smell of bread rising.
When it is ready, turn it out onto the cabinet and let it rest while you grease the pans.
We bought this cast iron pan thinking we would bake biscuits in it, but we prefer the cookie sheet method. However, it makes wonderful rolls when I make bread.
When I learned how to make loaves, I always rolled them out, like it shows in the Betty Crocker cookbook. Now I just kind of roll them up by hand and skip the rolling pin. They turn out just as well.
For this recipe I make two loaves and a few rolls. I really like cast iron and these pans cook the bread up nicely.
Yum! Can you smell it? Fresh, hot bread. What a treat!
The rolls bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
The loaves bake at 350 degrees. When the bread is rising, the rolls are ready first. By the time the rolls finish baking, the loaves are usually ready to go.
The loaves need to bake for 40-45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, I take them out and cover them with foil so they won’t get too brown before the 40 minutes is up. I keep this foil and reuse it only for this purpose. I used to throw it away each time, but it seemed like such a waste.
There is not much that can beat the smell of baking or freshly baked bread. You will notice there are only three rolls now. The rest didn’t survive the baking of the loaves.
It is a very satisfying skill – to be able to make bread for your family.
I save produce bags and twist ties. They work well for storing the bread.
It is hard to describe the pleasure and satisfaction we get from producing our own food – or as much of it as we can. It is time consuming and hard work and a tremendous learning experience. But most of all, it is very gratifying. We are humbly grateful.
Until next time – Fern