Making bread is something I’d always wanted to try, but my lack of knowledge had always kept me from trying. I had never watched anyone knead bread, much less ever tried it myself, so I turned to youtube to watch as many videos on the subject as I could.
I made bread for the first time in my life about 4 months ago to the tune of a recipe called “No Fail Wheat Bread”…but wouldn’t you know, it FAILED. Barry and the girls kept saying, “It has a good taste…really.” It did taste good, but it was so hard it would’ve killed someone if I had hurled it towards them…maybe that’s why they were so kind as to say it was good 😉 Well, I definitely don’t have a history of baking; however, I am stubborn (just ask Barry), so I wasn’t going to let bread, of all things, stump me.
I set out looking for another recipe, but I kept going back to that “no fail” recipe because it really did have a good flavor. After combining it with some other recipes and changing the amounts of some of the ingredients, I finally came up with something that works for me. We absolutely love it…not only because it’s delicious, but it’s nice to not have to run to the store because we’re out of bread again. We (yes, we…Lindsay and Lauren are both making bread now, too) are making this recipe about every 3 days.
Here’s my version of a Simple Honey Wheat Bread:
This recipe makes (2) 2 1/4 lb. loaves in (2) 9″x5″ loaf pans.
3 Cups warm water (not too hot, just warm)
2 Tbsp. yeast (or 2 pkgs)
1/3 Cup of honey (I use white sugar if I’m out of honey, and it works just fine.)
4-5 Cups whole wheat flour (The amount depends on the type flour you are using, but I usually end up using about 4 1/2 cups for this part of the recipe. I’m using store-bought whole wheat right now, but I’m anxiously awaiting my order of hard red spring wheat berries from Montana so I can make my own..yay!)
In a large mixing bowl, stir together water, yeast, honey (or sugar), and flour.
Let it rest (proof) for about 30 minutes or until big and bubbly like this:
3 Tbsp. melted butter (I have used canola oil when I was out of butter, and it worked just as well.)
1/3 Cup honey (or sugar)
1 Tbsp. salt
3 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour (again, the amount will vary)
1 Tbsp. oil
Into the proofed dough, mix in melted butter, honey, and salt.
Next, stir in flour one cup at a time until you can no longer stir it with a spoon (usually just 2 cups). Then, turn it out onto a heavily floured counter. Here’s what it will look like…not so pretty at this point, huh?
Now is the time to knead. The only way I can explain this is that you roll it toward you, push away from you, make a quarter turn, and repeat. For those of you who are like I was and are scared of this, there are some really good videos (like this one) out there…just search for “kneading bread” on youtube. I don’t think there’s a “wrong” way to knead, so don’t let it intimidate you like I did for so long.
You will know you’ve kneaded enough when the dough is still pliable but is no longer sticky. As a general rule, I usually knead for about 10-12 minutes. I know that sounds like an eternity, but it really doesn’t seem like it if you purpose to enjoy it. You and the bread kinda “connect” for a while, there . 😉
Next, oil the bowl with a tablespoon of oil, return the dough to the bowl, and turn it once to coat the surface of the dough.
Cover with a dishtowel (some people say to use a damp dishtowel, but I’ve used both and can’t tell the difference), and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Punch down the dough, and divide evenly into two balls, and place them in 2 lightly oiled and floured 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately remove from pans. This is optional, but I lightly brush the tops with melted butter to keep the crust nice and soft.
Hope you’ll try it!