Making Homemade Bread: A Cheese Herb Bread Recipe

Homemade Bread Vs. Store Bought Bread
We have been working toward eating more whole foods in our home, more foods made from scratch, and less processed foods laden with chemical, preservatives, and so on. We're not perfect and have a few areas where we "give in," namely breakfast cereal (despite buying healthier varieties). In general we try to purchase foods that have very few ingredients to them or at the very least identifiable ones. So, when we started looking at the exhaustive list of ingredients on the back of our bread packages versus the minimal ingredients (often about 5-6) to make your own, we decided to adopt homemade bread into our home.

Making bread takes more time than buying it, naturally. But, I find that even without a bread machine, my total hands-on time (plus monitoring my Kitchen Aid mixer) in no way exceeds more than 15 minutes. You just have to have about a 2 hour block of time to be around while it's rising and baking. I'll admit, the first time I began baking bread it sounded intimidating. But, after a first go around on a recipe, I realize the process is fairly simple. In the end, when you get a bread recipe you love and you get in your bread-making groove with that recipe, you have a much tastier, softer, more satisfying bread than you could ever buy. And without all the "added" ingredients.

What Kind of Flour Should I Use When Baking Bread?
We have a staple whole wheat bread recipe that we always have on hand in our house for toast, sandwiches, etc. Normally, I like to make breads out of mostly whole wheat, but occasionally we enjoy a special bread recipe made of a white flour. I try to make myself feel better about white flour by purchasing unbromated, unbleached (and preferably organic) flour. Sometimes I find that higher quality bread flour or all-purpose flour lists whole wheat flour (like King Arthur's), and sometimes I use a white whole wheat flour (still whole wheat, just a different variety) that's a little lighter in texture mixed with bread flour (split half and half).

Making Homemade Bread with Kitchen Aid Mixer or Bread Machine?
Of course, when making your own bread from home, particularly on a regular basis, it's good and almost necessary to invest in either a bread machine or a Kitchen Aid mixer (or an equivalent). Upon the recommendations of many fellow friends via a Facebook question poll, I was encouraged to go the mixer route as you can make more loaves at a time and often they come out less dense. So, when a good deal arose, I purchased my first Kitchen Aid mixer. Wonderful! Prior to my Kitchen Aid Mixer purchase, I did have the opportunity to borrow a friend's bread machine for a short time. Bread machines have their perks in that you have even less hands-on time, but a mixer gives you much more versatility and greater quality.

Time to Share
Here's a tasty bread recipe we all enjoyed and my two little girls (2 and 4 years old) gobbled down with vigor. The cheese flavor is actually minimal overall, but the herbs make it delicious. Let's just say we ALL ate more than we should have in one sitting. "Can I have another piece bread, please?" By the way, the recipe used a bread machine, so I will include those directions along with how I made this bread with my mixer and mad bread skills instead.

Cheese Herb Bread Recipe
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder (I just used real milk)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (I used agave nectar and could half the amount)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened (I used olive oil)
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I used 5 TB)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • (OR substitute 4 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning in place of the marjoram, thyme, basil, and oregano)

Bread Machine Directions:

  • Place ingredients in bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the Basic or White Bread cycle, and press Start.

Directions if you use a mixer, your hands, and an oven instead:

  • Mix dry ingredients first. Then add the wet ingredients. Mix with mixer until combined. I use the flat paddle for this initial mixing.
  • Then "knead" the dough with the dough hook attachment on your mixer for 6-7 minutes.
  • Let the dough rise in the bowl for 45 minutes (covered with wet towel).
  • Punch down dough and roll out the dough into a rectangle shape that you can then roll up and form into loaf shape.
  • Put in a greased pan (I use a spray oil). Let rise again for 20-30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes.

Bread Machine or Oven?

When making homemade bread do you use a bread machine or do you make it with a mixer and bake in your oven?

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