Homemade Bread

By kristinabjornbak | Category: It Worked 4 Me, Recipes & Kitchen Tips | Posted Monday, March 8, 2010

These days just about everything we could want to eat is available pre-made in the store.  That’s not a  bad thing, with hectic schedules being the norm rather than the exception.  However, sometimes we can reap the message that certain homemade foods are either too hard to make or simply not worth the effort and store bought is the way to go.

I’ve started making bread.  I haven’t done it to replace the stuff we get at the store, but in addition to.  A friend recently came to me and said, “I’ve always wanted to try that.  Is it hard?”  That’s a tough question to answer because the definition of hard varies from person to person.  I would say no, not hard, but it is time consuming and takes practice.  The result, however, is well worth it, even if you only try it once.  I fully encourage you to give it a shot.  There are so many recipes available both in cookbooks and for free online.

Before you take off on your bread making adventure, here are a couple of things I’ve lBreadearned that can help you out:

1.  Make sure you knead the dough enough.  Not kneading enough can lead to flatter bread.  A properly kneaded dough will be smooth and will stretch.

2.  Make sure you let the bread rise enough.  Generally there are two rises when you make bread.  You can tell that it is done with a rise if you make a small indent with your finger and the indent stays there.  Usually this is about 45 minutes to an hour for each rise, a bit longer if it is cold in your house.  Also, there are a couple of different methods to letting a bread rise, such as simply letting it sit on the counter, or putting it in an oven that is off with a pan of hot water under the dough on the bottom rack.  Try one way, and then another next time to find which works best for you.

3.  A bread is done baking if it sounds hollow when you tap on it.  Strange, I know, but true.

4.  Whole wheat flour will not be as tall and fluffy as store bought bread unless you add certain conditioners to it.  What conditioners and how much depends on the recipe.  Personally, I don’t mind my bread being a little less tall.

5.  If your bread doesn’t turn out as big or fluffy as you expected, don’t panic.  A bread that turns out a little denser is still delicious!  Don’t let it discourage you from trying again.

I hope you decide to give bread making a try.  If nothing else, you can say that you’ve done it.  If you do try it, I hope my tips work for you.

*A little note about the bread you see in the picture: It is from a Shaker Daily Loaf recipe that I found in an older cookbook that my mother-in-law gave to us.  Instead of all-purpose flour, I used white whole wheat flour and did not add any sort of conditioners.  Before I let it rise, I cut the dough down the middle and put it into two greased and floured loaf pans.  I let it rise in the oven (turned off), and placed a small pot of hot water underneath it on the bottom rack, adding new hot water every now and then.  I didn’t punch it down, but instead tucked the ends under (first the short ends, then the long ones, and then reshaping slightly, followed by the second rise).  Didn’t follow all that?  No big deal.  Best to follow the instructions as written the first time, anyway.

Also, if you want to have some step-by-step instructions (along with photos) of a bread recipe that Heather has used, you can see her post “How To Make Homemade Bread“.   Good luck and have fun!

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How to make homemade bread

By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Healthy Living, Recipes & Kitchen Tips | Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The smell of homemade bread in the oven is defiantly at the top of the list when I think of my favorite smells (oddly the smell of new tires is up there too but I will limit this post to bread). Did you know that today is Homemade Bread Day?!  To celebrate I am going to show you one of my favorite bread recipes.  I would love for you to give it a try.

Let me start out by saying that if you have never made bread before, PLEASE don’t avoid making it out of fear that it is “too hard”–it is actually quite easy.  The main part that I find I have to be aware of is picking a day to bake that I will be home most of the day as the process takes time.  It is so worth it though, the taste just can’t be beat.  The recipe I am providing below will make two loaves which is perfect because if your family is anything like mine, the first loaf will be finished off almost before it cools as warm bread is irresistible!  You can also freeze bread by wrapping it in foil and then placing it in a freezer bag for later use.

This recipe is tried and true as it was the one my mother made when I was a young girl.  I have fond memories of helping her knead the dough and eating warm slices of bread with butter and honey–oh yum!

Honey-Whole Wheat Bread

2 packages active dry yeast (or 4 t)
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/3 cup honey
1 T salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup whole wheat or graham flour (I use whole wheat and prefer to grind it myself)
3-4 cups unbleached or all purpose flour (again, I use whole wheat and it turns out great)
butter or margarine, softened
if you use 100% whole wheat flour you may wish to add some gluten to help it rise better (I do)

Start by gathering up all the items listed above.  Then fill up your sink with warm soapy water so that you can add your dirty items as you finish using them, making clean up faster.

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl.

Next, stir in honey*, salt, shortening, 1 3/4 cups warm water and the whole wheat flour.  Beat until smooth.  Then, stir in enough of the all purpose flower to make dough easy to handle.

*the honey will come out of your measuring cup more easily if you first rub a bit of oil inside your measuring cup.

2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  This is a great time to have your kids get involved!

Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place*
until double, about 1 hour.  (Dough is ready if an indentation remains
when touched.)

*In the winter I put it by our wood stove or turn the oven on the lowest setting (for mine this is 170 degrees) and then turn it off and allow the dough to rise inside the oven.

3. Punch down dough (kids are great help in this step); divide in half.  Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into a rectangle, 18×9 inches.

4. Roll the dough tightly toward you starting on a narrow end.  Press with thumbs to seal after each turn.  Pinch edge firmly to seal.  With side of hand, press each end to seal; fold ends under.
5. Place loaves seam sides down in 2 greased loaf pans (9x5x3 or 8.5×4.5×2.5).  Brush lightly with butter; crushed tolled oats if you like.  Let rise until double, about 1 hour.  If you watch them rise as my kids are doing below, it definitely rises slower;).

6. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place loaves on low rack so that tops of pans are in center of oven.  Bake until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, 40-45 minutes.  Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.

Now what I really should have taken a photo of was us enjoying the bread but we got so excited to dig in that I forgot!

I hope you are inspired to give bread making a try and at the very least consider dusting off your bread maker:)!

Heather Ledeboer

I am a Christian, wife, mom and the original founder of Mom 4 Life. Now that Ashley owns Mom 4 Life, I am focusing my energies in homeschooling and asking God to use me in other areas.

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