You’ll notice this post is titled “Making Daily Bread” and not “Making Bread Daily.” I’m a do-it-yourselfer, but I’m not a martyr. Some pioneers in the organic/local/sustainable food movement note that while, in some ways, people are going back to doing things they way their grandparents did — fresh, real food that’s made and sometimes even grown at home — in other ways, we are light years ahead because of scientific, technological and social advancements. These things are easier than they used to be.
For example, I can make steel cut oats in a jiffy (at least my part of the chore goes quickly) with my rice cooker. I can set up automatic drip irrigation systems for my raised beds. We can now easily use temporary electric fencing to rotate livestock through multiple grazing areas. And, like I’ll explain here, I’ve been using my bread machine to assist in that most basic of endeavors — making bread for our family’s daily use.
For quite a while, I’ve been in search of a method for mimicking certain characteristics of store-bought whole wheat bread. It should be fairly soft, easily sliceable (and toast-able), and suitable for sandwich-making. I finally found a recipe that’s satisfied me (and, crucially importantly, the family) and it has one other distinct advantage compared to others I’ve tried — it makes two loaves at once.
I can’t bake two loaves at a time in the bread machine, but it gives me an extra loaf to freeze while we’re going through the first one. So it’s not bread-making daily. At our rate of consumption, it turns out to be more like weekly. Since it requires so little hands-on time, it’s doable for a working mom like me. (I store the currently-in-use bread loaf in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag, and start cooking the next batch when the last loaf is halfway gone.)
The recipe I use is based on one I found on An Oregon Cottage, with a few tweaks. I originally started making this by using my KitchenAid stand mixer, but I only have the basic model, and it started to balk at kneading whole wheat bread after a while. (The smell of a mixer motor getting hot is not a nice kitchen aroma.)
So, I decided to use an appliance made for kneading bread — my bread machine. Though it makes two loaves, the machine is able to handle it pretty easily on the “dough” setting. After that, I just turn the dough into two standard 5×9 loaf pans and bake it in the oven. (I tried the toaster oven on the convection setting once, and, though ours is pretty big, the top of the bread burned a little.)
Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Everyday Bread
Summary: This is a great recipe to replace bread you’d buy at the grocery store. I started out using a stand mixer, but have since switched to the bread machine. I’ll describe both methods.
- 6 cups of whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat)
- 2-1/2 cups of warm water (warm tap water is what I normally use)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup oil
- 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- Combine water, yeast and 2 cups of the flour in the stand mixer bowl, bread machine pan or a large bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
- Add oil, honey, salt, gluten, and 4 cups of flour.
- If you’re using the bread machine, set it onto the “dough” setting and start. In the stand mixer, mix until dough starts to come away from the sides of bowl.
- If you’re using the stand mixer, change to the dough hook (or turn out to knead by hand), and knead for 6 to 7 minutes (10 if by hand). If dough sticks to the sides of the bowl (or sticks to the sides in the bread machine pan), add one additional tablespoon of flour at a time until it no longer sticks. (Temperature and humidity can affect the amount of flour needed.)
- Once you’re finished mixing, or have reached the final rise on the bread machine “dough” setting, form the dough into two loaves and place in 9×5 loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes (until the dough is 1 to 2 inches above the pans). If you’ve let it rise somewhat in the bread machine, you won’t need to let it rise for as long.
- Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (I use a convection oven at 325 degrees).
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through if needed.
- Immediately remove from pans to cool.
Preparation time: 20 minutes (plus time to rise)
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 2 loaves
Have you ever made bread for your family? Share your recipes and secrets in the comments!