Guest post from Lauren Mirecki
When my husband and I were married, one of the first and best gifts we ever received was a breadmaker. I was so thrilled to be able to carry on the delicious bread-making that my mom had started in our home. However, as time went on, we found more and more problems with our bread not turning out, so we bought another one. And then that one broke. So we bought another. And the motor quit on that one.
3 breadmakers and 7 years later, I found myself giving up completely and deciding we would just go back to buying store bought bread. GASP! I was not overly pleased at this idea since I didn’t like the preservatives that most bread contains, but I also wasn’t about to break the bank to buy the bakery fresh breads either.
What are we to do? We are a family of 5 who goes through 1 loaf of bread in 2 lunches (not to mention other bread items throughout the week). We want to get as much benefit out of our food as possible, eating as much “whole food” without preservatives and chemicals as possible, while not spending an astronomical amount of time and money on the whole process.
Enter the solution! Whoever said you need a breadmaker to make bread? Or bagels, english muffins, pizza dough, etc. In my head, making bread from scratch (MINUS the breadmaker!) was a brutal process. All that kneading and rising and kneading and rising again….made my head spin. But I decided to give it a shot anyway, and boy was I surprised!
First of all, if you think making bread is difficult, it isn’t. As long as you have some knowledge about the ingredients, and how they work together, and why you’re doing certain things, AND FOLLOW THE RECIPE :D, you’ll be just fine!
Second, if you have a stand mixer, it will do most of the kneading work for you! I’ve had a stand mixer for at least 3 years. Why oh why I had never used it for bread before I will never understand.
So, now you really want to try it out for yourself, but you’re not sure where to start.
First of all, you need to find some good flour. We are in the process of investigating purchasing a flour mill of our own so we can grind our own flour. The fresher, the better! Especially when it comes to whole wheat. Most of the stuff you buy from the store has been sitting there for a while and has lost most (if not all!) of its nutritional value.
If you do not or cannot grind your own flour, see about purchasing from a local bakery, or someone else who grinds their own. If that is not possible, seek out the best flour possible (do some research, it depends on your area), or buy organic. In general though, grinding your own will save you a lot of money, AND you’ll benefit IMMENSELY from being able to sprout your own grains (for more information on this, check out what GranolaMom4God has to say about sprouting grains!!)
Second, you need some recipes that you can rely on. Below I’ve included some of our favourite recipes for making bagels, english muffins, and whole wheat bread at home. I won’t say these are fail-proof, because there is always room for human error (believe me, I’ve messed up many a time, but I’ve always learned from it!), but they are tried and tested and well-loved in our family!
4 cups bread flour
1 TB sugar
1 1/2 ts salt
1 TB vegetable oil
2 ts instant (quick-rise) yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (you don’t need to let the yeast soak if you’re using quick rise). If needed, add extra water to blend in all the flour for a stiff dough.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. I usually do 5 minutes in the stand mixer, 5 minutes by hand.
Divide the dough into 8 equal balls and let rest for 10-20 minutes.
Roll out each dough ball between your hands (like play dough!) until it looks like a snake. Hold one end of the dough in one hand, and wrap the other end around your hand. Press the two ends together.
Let bagels rise on the counter for 20 minutes.
While rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and boil a large pot of water with brown sugar in it. After 20 minutes of rising, plop each bagel into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute then turn over (too long and the ends will start to separate!).
Drain on a paper towel, then move to a greased cookie sheet. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, turning part way through. Allow to cool (if you can wait that long!) then enjoy!
You can do half whole wheat for these bagels, or add in flax or sunflower seeds to the dough during the kneading stage. Feel free to add sesame or poppy seeds to the tops of the bagels before baking.
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
2 ts honey
2 ts salt
4 cups flour (you can do half white and half whole wheat)
2 ts instant yeast
3 TB softened butter
Mix water (you can use hot water because the milk cools it so you won’t kill the yeast) with milk, honey and salt. Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Mix into a loose batter using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer.
Cover and let rise for 1 hour (it will be very wet, like cake batter at this point). Add the remaining flour and butter.
Roll out dough on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal. Cut into circles about 1/2 inch thick (if they are too thick they won’t cook all the way through).
Let muffins rise until doubled in size. Heat a frying pan/skill on the stove on medium heat. Cook the english muffins about 5-7 minutes per side, flipping once. Make sure you press down in between to ensure cooking all the way through.
Cool and eat!
Whole Wheat Bread
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (hard red or spelt; if using soft wheat, add up to 1 TB of gluten – most store bought whole wheat flour, unless it says otherwise, is soft wheat)
1/2 cup rolled oats
6 3/4 ts instant yeast
1 TB salt
2 cups milk (plus 2 TB)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
Mix 4 cups of flour with oats, yeast and salt.
Heat milk, honey and oil over low heat on the stove top, just until warmed through.
Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add remaining flour (you may need a bit more) to make a stiff dough. If the flour is not all getting mixed in, add a little more milk.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes (or let the stand mixer knead). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Knead again for 2 minutes. Separate into 2 loafs and place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise until double (about 40-50 minutes).
Bake bread at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). The tops should be nice and brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, or flip onto a bread board and cool there. Cut and serve.
Give bread baking at home a try. And share your results with us!
Read more on this topic with these posts!
- Homemaker’s Goals for the New Year - December 15, 2014
- Quick & Easy – Christmas Meal Hacks - December 10, 2014
- Tips To A Well Planned Thanksgiving - November 17, 2014
- Simple and Practical Homeschool Routine - August 12, 2014
- Preparing Food for Maternity Leave - July 15, 2014
- Free Kids Chore Checklist - April 8, 2014
- 8 Questions to Ask When De-cluttering - March 25, 2014
- Spring Cleaning Checklists - March 11, 2014
- Confessions of a Homemaking Challenged Homemaker - February 24, 2014
- Overcoming Discouragement With Small Changes - February 11, 2014