Homemade Bread (Breadmaker)
A couple months ago I began an effort to stop buying store bread. The list of ingredients is pretty excessive considering how few ingredients are actually required to make a loaf of bread.
I don't think making bread will work for all families, but we are not generally big bread eaters. We might have sandwiches one day a week, and often when we do we're more likely to use tortillas for wraps rather than traditional sandwich bread. So really I wanted a loaf of bread that could:
- Replace bagels and english muffins at breakfast.
- Be used for Toast.
- Be used for French Toast.
- Be soft enough for plain sandwiches but firm enough to handle spreading a butter alternative so we could have grilled sandwiches.
- Be used as dipping bread with olive oil and spices.
- Last a few days on the counter, but also freezes well.
I have spent many months trying to make a homemade loaf of whole wheat bread. While they've all been edible, I like to describe them as "earthy." A little too grainy, and often a little too firm. Homemade bread can also go stale pretty quickly, so if you start with a firm loaf by the time a day or two goes by you could build a house with the brick that is left.
So after much effort and failed attempts, I present you with a successful bread recipe! I will say that one thing I've learned after making so many recipes is that was is "excellent" for one person, can be disgusting for another. I've made several "5 star" recipes that I thought were pretty gross. Bread is finicky....there are 100 factors that will factor in to how that loaf plays out. This recipe might not be as perfect for you as it is for me. Plus, there is quite a learning curve for figuring when your dough ball has just the right balance between liquids and flour. Keep trying though, and you'll be rewarded with a house that smells awesome!
I do have a breadmaker, and I've never made bread without it. You won't find instructions here for hand kneading and timing your rises because I don't know how to do it! Here is my bread machine recipe. Add ingredients in the order your bread machine instructions advise. Mine requires liquids first.
A couple notes:
- You'll notice this is not 100% whole wheat recipe. However, I figure that a homemade recipe with a little white flour is still healthier than a 100% whole wheat loaf of bread from the store with 25 extra ingredients.
- Whole wheat flour has less gluten than white flour. Vital wheat gluten helps replace some of this gluten, leading to a fluffier loaf of bread. Many people are successful without it so if you don't have it on hand, give it a try anyway!
- The dough ball should be checked regularly. It should be round and not sticky. If it is sticky, add flour at about a Tablespoon at a time. If it appears too dry (really bouncing around the breadmaker or will not bind into a ball) then add water at about a Tablespoon at a time.
- Try taking out the paddle before the bread starts to bake so you can avoid digging it out of the bread later.
1 ¼ cups Warm Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2.5 cups Whole Wheat flour
1 cup Bread Flour
1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Yeast
Use settings for a whole wheat loaf and start the machine. Keep an eye on the dough ball and make sure it has the right consistency before the bread "rise" cycle.