I am on a quest to bake the simplest but most nourishing bread I possibly can. The ultimate dream is to consistently bake bread (and bagels, English muffins, pizza dough etc.) using my own sourdough starter. I have yet to take on that challenge. In the mean time, this recipe bakes 3 loaves of beautiful 100% whole wheat bread (I’ve experiemented with other whole grains, barley, spelt, and rye flours, and this has been a wonderfully flexible recipe.) with springy, lightly sweet and nutty-tasting results every time. There are few things as satisfying as baking your own bread. Not only is kneading a therapeutic experience but you can actually get a work out after folding, turning, and pushing for 10-20 minutes! I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use a Kitchen-aid type mixer, however, I’d reccomend at least beginning bread-making (unless you already have an excellent “feel” for the texture of elastic, well-kneaded bread) using your hands. You can then familiarize yourself with the development of the gluten as you work the bread. And the formation of gluten, through kneading, is really the main key to lovely-grained bread! One of the other important factors, especially in taste is the freshness of your flour. If you have the ability to grind grain yourself, this is by far the best. Next best is to buy bulk organic flour from a source you know to have a high turnover rate.
I found this recipe on Allrecipes. I’ve minorly changed it with healthful alterations. Although it doesn’t use the traditional soaking, sprouting, or fermenting (sourdough) methods, this is still leaps and bounds beyond store-bought whole wheat bread.
The last batch I made, I used at least 1/2 freshly ground spelt flour. It was just as easy to work with and absolutely delicious. I also have used varying parts white all-purpose or white bread flour with good, if more “store-bought”, results.
3 cups warm, filtered water
1/3 cup raw honey
5 cups whole wheat bread flour (i.e. don’t use soft “pastry” wheat flour)
4 1/2 Tsp. (or 2 packages) instant yeast
3 Tbs. melted organic butter, cold-pressed sunflower, grapeseed, or melted coconut oil
1/3 cup raw honey
1 Tbs. sea salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or spelt, etc)
3 Tbs. melted butter, optional (If you like a shiny, buttery crust, that is.)
1. Stir together yeast, water, 5 cups flour, and 1/3 cup honey. Allow to rest for 30 minutes until bubbly.
3. Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10-20 minutes until smooth and elastic. (It will be super-sticky in the beginning and while you can use flour on the surface and to dust the dough, don’t add full cupfuls, it will ruin the texture of the bread. Use only enough to be able to knead.)
4. After kneading, place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a dishtowel and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.5. Deflate dough gently and divide into thirds. Shape into loaves. Set into greased loaf pans. Set in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Note for Step 5: Sometimes I only make two loaves and use a rolling pin to roll the third section of dough into cinnamon rolls. I use 1/2-1 cup sucanat/sugar, 2-3 tbs. cinnamon, and 1/2 cup soft butter and smear the mixture over the dough. Roll up length-wise. Slice with a sharp knife and place into well-greased (or even better, lined with parchment paper) pan with sides. (this is to avoid a smoking oven from dripping sugar, a shrill smoke detector, and babies woken abruptly from naps!) Allow 30 minutes rise time, bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. I like to freeze most of them individually for Paul have available for a quick breakfast. He simply reheats them once at work and I get to feel good that he hasn’t been forced to grab a cafeteria danish because I was too lazy to get out of bed early enough!