Many people may have memories of the warm, yeasty aroma of Grandma’s fresh-baked bread. Even if they don’t have such memories, books like the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and any book of the old country days place in each person a desire for good old-fashioned cooking and that good old homemade bread.
Many people are shocked to find that we not only can make it, but we bake bread two or three times a week for everyday use for our family. Not only that, but we bake our bread with red wheat freshly milled at each baking to provide the most nutrient bread possible.
We found through a good deal of research, that as soon as wheat berries are milled into flour, it begins to quickly lose all the nutrients that make wheat good for you. Within three days after the wheat is milled, it has lost over 90% of its nutrients, and is technically considered rancid. Bread made from store-bought flour, and pretty much all wheat bread you buy in stores are missing the vital nutrients God placed in the wheat simply because they allow the flour to go rancid before they use it or place it in stores.
I am currently the bread baker of the family, so every Monday and Wednesday morning, it’s bread baking time. We have an electric flour mill (Hey, who said old-fashioned can’t be modern too?) that I use to mill the wheat berries into flour.
We also use a Bosch, an industrial electric mixer, to mix and knead the dough. I know, it’s more authentic to knead by hand, but have you ever kneaded six loaves worth of dough at a time? If you think me lazy not to knead my own bread, try six loaves some time!
This recipe we use is for four loaves, but I have made six loaves up to three times a week before when our use of bread is at a high point . A big family takes a lot of bread! I have this written out for the electric mixer, but you can do it by hand also.
Place in mixer:
4c. very warm (almost hot) water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. honey
2 T. salt
3 and 1/2 c. wheat flour
3 T. wheat gluten (if you can’t find wheat gluten, substitute 1/2 c. wheat flour for white flour)
3 T. Yeast (be sure to store your yeast in the refrigerator, or it will lose its effectiveness.)
Mix well, and let sponge for fifteen minutes. Sometimes it requires more time to sponge, just be sure that the mixture is bubbly and has risen in the bowl.
Add 5c. or more of flour and mix well. Your goal is to add flour just until it wipes the sides of the bowl clean. Dough that still sticks to the sides of the bowl needs more flour, and dough that thumps around in a ball has too much flour.
Knead on medium for nine minutes. Use this time to spray and flour your bread pans.
Here’s where I cheat. Most people dump the dough onto a floured surface and separate the dough. Then they stretch, roll, and pinch to get the dough into a loaf shape. For a girl who has a lot to do, I don’t have that much time.
I get a cookie sheet and put a few tablespoon’s worth of oil on it. I spread the oil around on the cookie sheet, and spread it all over my hands so the dough won’t stick. Then I dump the dough into the cookie sheet. I flip it over, so I have oil on both sides, then I “shape” the dough into an oblong loaf that I can easily divide. I divide it in half, then each half in half.
Don’t fold and tuck, but simply push the dough into loaf shapes, and then put into the loaf pans.
I set the pans on the stove above my oven where it will be warm while the oven is pre-heating. I then set the oven on 350 degrees and let the bread rise for twenty-five to thirty minutes. The bread should have almost doubled in size.
Bake for twenty-five minutes, or until the bottoms of the loaves are a darkish golden-brown.
After you are fairly drooling from the smell, you can finally take the bread out the oven and turn it out gently onto cooling racks, and go ahead and slice you a piece, or two or three, to enjoy warm! (I admit, I know of someone who ate almost a whole loaf right after it came out the oven!)
Many people wonder about the actual healthiness of our bread. As a neighbor of mine said, “It tastes too good to be healthy!” Well, the truth is that it is indeed healthy. Even a diabetic neighbor of mine is free to eat our bread with no ill side effects, and with a lot of added benefits! Comparing the nutrition of our bread and store-bought is like comparing a computer generated picture to the real thing. There really isn’t a comparison. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, you can tell the fake is fake, and the real is real. You don’t even WANT to know what all they put into that store-bought stuff!
The other think people wonder about is the cost. To tell you the truth, our bread costs about two dollars per loaf to make. Maybe we can get an off brand for a dollar a loaf, but not something with the same natural goodness and nutrients that ours has!
Baking our own whole wheat bread is something most people see as unique for a family like ours. To them I say, “Try it, and you’ll see why we do it!” Why don’t you?