i did it — homemade bread that actually worked

When I was growing up, all the cool kids had Wonderbread.  My family, not so much.  We had homemade wheat bread.  Ugh — how could my mom do that to us?  Didn’t she know the social ramifications?

Fast forward more years that I care to admit, and I’m sending my own kids off to school with their whole wheat bread.  Most of the time, I buy my bread from Alpine Valley Bakery.  Twice a week, all of their breads go on sale for a dollar a loaf.  I kid you not — even their organic bread.  Yeah, I don’t think I can make it for that price.  That being said, there is nothing like a piece of warm bread right out of the oven, and I’m pretty sure that bread is going to taste even better after the poop hits the fan and bread from a store is just a distant memory, but I digress, back to the bread.

One of the reasons I haven’t made bread more often is because I never seemed to get it quite right.  Everyone said it was good, but I wanted better than good.  I wanted super good.  Guess what?  I finally got it right thanks to The Well Floured Kitchen.  Oh how I love this blog.  I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Just visit, I promise you’ll love it.

It’s not exactly how she did it, but she’s way cooler than I am.  I couldn’t seem to get my loaves all nice and pretty like hers or have cool cuts across the tops.  I’m okay with that though.  Maybe one day, I’ll try again, but for now, here’s what I do.

a little bit of bread

Yummy Whole Wheat Bread

6 cups (1lb, 8 oz) white whole wheat flour (I grind my own, but King Arthur’s is good as well)

1 tablespoon yeast

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon organic sugar or honey

2 cups water

If you are using regular active dry yeast, you will need to start by proofing it.  Do this by adding the yeast and 1 teaspoon of your sugar to 1 cup of warm water.  Let it sit for five minutes.

While the sugar and yeast are getting all cozy, place the flour, the rest of the sugar, and salt in a heavy duty stand mixer (hopefully, we’ll still have electricity even though the grocery stores are empty).  Per the tips from the original recipe, I’ve been weighing my flour rather than using measuring cups.  I really think this has made a huge difference — not sure why, but there it is.  If you are using instant yeast, you can just throw everything into the mixer.

Once the yeast has been proofed add and the yeast mixture and the second cup of water to your mixer.  I use the paddle just to mix things around and then let it rest for about fifteen minutes.  Switch over to the dough hook and knead for five minutes.

Once it’s done kneading, I pull the dough out and do a quick wipe down of the mixing bowl with olive oil, just so the dough doesn’t stick as it’s rising.  Put the dough back in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for about an hour.  It should double in size.

Punch it down and form into two nice loaves.  I put mine in bread pans, but you can also do round loaves and make it look all fancy.

Cover, and let it rise again for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes, or until it has an internal temperature of 200 degrees.  This is another tip that I got from Well Floured Kitchen.

There you go.  Pretty easy and oh so good.  You can tell from the picture.  I gave one loaf away and before I knew it, this was all that was left, and I didn’t have time to bake some more.  Sorry.