I’ve been baking our own bread for the past two years. We haven’t bought any sandwich bread in that whole time (except when we were on vacation)! I thought I’d share how I do it here. It’s really not that hard or time-consuming. And it tastes so much better than store-bought, as well as being better for you.
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I bought the mixer, grain mill and many supplies from Urban Homemaker (urbanhomemaker.com). (You can also make the bread by hand and buy wheat flour at the store if you don’t want to get a mixer or mill.) I get 100 pounds of wheat berries at a time from a food co-op that my friend is a part of. I bought two 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot and put gamma lids on them and oxygen absorbers in them (bought at wisementrading.com). The gamma lids completely seal the buckets so that nothing can get in. The oxygen absorbers absorb all the oxygen from the bucket, killing any bugs or eggs which may have been in there. The wheat will then keep indefinitely!
Ingredients: oil, honey, dough enhancer, vital gluten, yeast, salt, and wheat berries:
Bosch Mixer and Nutrimill Grain Mill:
Six bread pans to make six loaves at a time. This lasts us about a week:
A 5-gallon bucket with gamma lid on:
Here is the recipe for Marilyn’s Famous Whole Wheat Bread Recipe. I use 2 1/2 TB of yeast, 2 TB of salt, 2 TB dough enhancer (optional), and 1/2 cup of vital gluten. One time I ran out of vital gluten, so I left it out to see how the bread would be different. The bread was very crumbly and wouldn’t hold together when cut. It was still edible, but the texture is much better with the vital gluten. I grind about 11 cups of wheat berries, but I’ve never counted exactly how many cups of flour I use. Sometimes, there is some left over, which I put in a baggie in the freezer to use the next week. Sometimes, I have to grind a little more. It depends on the humidity, etc.
Step 1: Set everything out. I’ve found that it only works for me to bake the bread starting first thing in the morning. Otherwise, I might have to wait up too long for it to cool so it can be put in bags. It takes me 2 1/2 hours from start to finish, not including cooling the bread. But I’m not working the whole time, so we get started on our schoolwork when the bread is rising and baking.
Step 2: Grind 2 cups of berries in the mill. While it’s grinding, put honey, oil, dough enhancer, yeast and very warm water in the mixer. Add 2 cups of freshly ground whole wheat flour. Mix a few seconds and let it sit there for 15 minutes. This is called sponging.
Step 3: Put about 9 more cups of wheat berries into the mill to grind. It takes about 7 minutes.
Step 4: After the 15 minutes of sponging is up, add salt and vital gluten to the mixer. (Don’t forget the salt!) Mix a few seconds. Add one cup of flour at a time and mix a few seconds. You’re done adding flour when the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.
Step 5: "Knead" the dough for 6 minutes–just turn the mixer setting to "1" and set the timer.
Step 6: Turn the oven on for a couple of minutes to warm it, then turn it off. Remove the dough hook from the mixing bowl and place mixing bowl in the warmed oven for 30 minutes to an hour. Instructions usually say to cover the bowl with a damp cloth, but I never do. (It’s now time to wash the dough hook by hand; if you wait, it’s so hard to clean later on.)
Step 7: After 30 minutes, my dough has always started to come out over the sides of the bowl, so it’s time to put into the bread pans.
Step 8: Pull out dough and put enough into each pan to fill it halfway. I never "shape" the dough, but just stuff it in there and try to flatten the top! I think the bread looks pretty nice when baked, so I haven’t worried about shaping it nicely!
Step 9: Place the 6 pans back into the warmed oven (turn back on for a couple of minutes if necessary.) Set the timer for 30 minutes again. By that time the dough has always risen to the tops (or a little above the tops) of the pans.
Step10: Turn the oven to 350 degrees and set the timer to about 30 minutes once more. Lately I’ve been baking them for 32 minutes. My bread has always been perfectly baked by following these instructions.
Step 11: If you let the bread cool a bit before cutting, it will slice better (won’t be so doughy).
Step 12: Cool completely and place in bread bags. I keep 2 loaves out and put the rest in the freezer. Don’t put bread in the refrigerator as that will dry it out.
Step 13: Enjoy!