Friday, September 13, 2013

Make it From Scratch Week, Day 4: Homemade Bread

 Well, it was a good thing I made elderberry syrup on Tuesday, since I got hit with a bad cold on Wednesday!!  I've been taking lots of it and trying to get as much rest as possible, and am feeling a bit better today.  :)

So I totally missed posting anything for Wednesday's project, although I was going to count the Almond Joy Bites (sweetened with xylitol!) that I made on Tuesday night.  However, I don't even have a picture of them (mine didn't come out too pretty anyway--should have made them in mini muffin tins :)), but you can follow the link and see the pictures at the Blue House Blog where I got the recipe.  I left the almonds out of mine to save money, so they were actually more like Mounds bites.  Very yummy!

Anyway, yesterday's Make it From Scratch project was one that I do pretty much every week: homemade wheat bread.  I make 4 loaves at a time and this lasts us about a week, sometimes less.
My recipe is adapted from the homemade wheat bread at Tammy's Recipes . . . I haven't changed it much, only I use molasses instead of honey since it is cheaper (and we don't mind the stronger flavor of molasses).  Here's the recipe:
Wheat Bread

4 cups warm water
4 T. milk
1/2 cup oil (I use coconut oil)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 t. instant yeast
6-7 cups whole wheat flour
6-7 cups all purpose flour
4 t. salt
several sprinkles of ginger
several sprinkles of citric acid 
(both ginger and the citric acid are optional, but help with the rising)

Add water, milk, oil, molasses, brown sugar and yeast to large mixer bowl.  (NOTE: You MUST have a large mixer for making this recipe--I use the largest size Kitchen Aid, which holds 6 quarts and can handle this much dough.  If you don't have a mixer that large, you will need to make the recipe by hand, or cut the recipe in half to make 2 loaves instead.  Make sure you don't overtax your mixer; we don't want anyone burning out their motors trying to make this bread!! :))

I never bother mixing up the liquid ingredients; just dump them all in there with the brown sugar and add the yeast on top.  Next, add the flours, salt, ginger and citric acid (if using).  (See recipe at Tammy's Recipes for more ideas on dough enhancers!)

Attach dough hook and mix on stir speed until the dough is mostly combined, then turn it up to the next speed for a little bit to get everything nicely kneaded together.  I find that it doesn't take long (less than a minute) to get it kneaded to my liking.

Turn oven on to 200 degrees F and grease a LARGE bowl.  When dough is finished kneading, dump dough into the greased bowl and turn so top and bottom are both greased.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and wait till oven has come up to temperature.  Put the bowl in the warm oven and TURN OVEN OFF.  Let rise in warm oven for about an hour.  The dough should have risen nicely, a bit above the top of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto a clean, floured counter.  (Turn dough over so both top and bottom are floured.)  Grease 4 bread pans and cut dough into 4 roughly even pieces.  Shape into loaves and place in pans.  Turn oven on to 200 again and put the pans in, once it's up to temperature.  TURN OVEN OFF again and let the bread rise for about 35 minutes.  (Don't bother to cover it this time.)  Once the 35 minutes are up, turn the oven light on and peek in through the window if your oven has one, to make sure the dough looks nicely risen.  Turn oven on to 350 degrees F and bake for 35 minutes.  As soon as it comes out of the oven, brush the top of each loaf with butter.

Cool bread in pans on wire racks for 15ish minutes, then gently loosen and turn out of pans onto racks to cool more.  Slice and enjoy!

Phew!  It took longer to write that all out than it takes to actually do it. :)  I hope I didn't leave anything out.  I do this recipe from memory now, so I was walking through each step in my mind . . . hopefully I didn't miss anything.  I should note that as with anything, making bread takes a lot of practice.  This bread turns out well for me almost every time, but I still have days where it comes out different than others.  A lot depends on humidity, etc.  Sometimes I get a nice firm bread, almost like store bought bread in texture.  Other times it turns out floppy and fall-aparty.  But at least it always turns out yummy (except when you forget the salt--don't ask me how I know ;))!

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