How to Make Home Made Bread From Scratch

Prairie Gold Hard White Wheat Berries

Let Us Bake Bread!

The advantages to making your own bread from scratch are many and varied. For starters, bread made at home has no preservatives, unlike store bought bread. It is fresh, soft, delicious, and fills the house while it's cooking with that wonderful "baking bread" aroma. The cook has control over the ingredients, fiber content, salt, etc. Home baked bread slices and stores well, and can be frozen. This recipe uses freshly ground wheat berries, which provides the beneficial wheat bran and germ, but without the time lapse in processing that leads to rancidity. The flavor is incomparable. These particular wheat berries are hard white wheat berries, which are slightly larger than their red sisters. They create a light and fluffy flour that produces baked goods of exceptional texture.

If you don't have access to wheat berries or a grain mill, fear not, this is a most forgiving recipe and you may simply substitute all purpose white or bread flour and you will still achieve good results.

The Recipe

This is my own recipe, refined over twenty-odd years of bread baking. You are welcome to share it with others as you see fit!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons dry bulk yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 Tablespoon (or so) honey or brown sugar
  • 8 cups freshly ground wheat berries (I sometimes mix half freshly ground flour with half all purpose or bread flour for a slightly lighter bread)
  • 3/4 cup honey or brown sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups warm milk (or water ... if using milk from the refrigerator, I warm it first in the microwave until it is warm to the touch)
  • 3-6 Tablespoons of light olive or coconut oil ( it doesn't really seem to matter how much, I just pour some in)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature (warm in hot tap water for a few minutes before using if cold from the refrigerator)
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ (optional)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (this is an Amish technique which adds lightness to the bread's texture. The vinegar cannot be tasted in the finished product.)

You will also need:

  • Several cups of additional flour
  • Stick of butter


Yeast

Warm Water

Temperature is important ... 105-115 degrees F. is ideal
Temperature is important ... 105-115 degrees F. is ideal

Honey

A little honey or sugar hastens the proofing process
A little honey or sugar hastens the proofing process

Proof the Yeast

To begin, put the yeast, cup of warm water and tablespoon of honey or brown sugar into a mixer or large bowl. Mix vigorously for about thirty seconds. Allow to sit until it is foamy, bubbly and doubled in size – around ten minutes.

Buy Yeast in Bulk

If you bake often using yeast, consider buying it in bulk. Many years ago I calculated that the cost of purchasing small packets at the grocery store adds up to over $17.00 a pound! At my local warehouse store (Sam's Club), I can purchase two pounds of yeast for just over four dollars. That is a huge savings! Yeast stored in the freezer lasts virtually forever.

Temperature

The bread dough rises more readily when all of the ingredients are brought to room temperature prior to mixing. The temperature of the water is important. If it is too cold, it will rise slowly or not at all, and if too hot, it will kill the yeast. If you're new to bread baking, it's a good idea to use a thermometer the first time or two, but you'll soon be able to tell with your fingers. The goal is water that is warm but not hot. If your bowl and measuring cups are colder than the water, make allowances for the fact that they will lower the water temperature by a degree or two.

Sweetener is Optional

Although it is probably a good idea to use a little honey or sugar to quicken the proofing process, sweetener in this recipe is optional for those who would prefer not to use it. I usually use honey if I have it, but if I don't, will use brown sugar, and often no sugar at all. It's entirely a personal preference and does not affect the texture of the bread.

Proofed Yeast

The yeast is proofed when the yeast-water-honey combination has grown foamy and doubled in size.
The yeast is proofed when the yeast-water-honey combination has grown foamy and doubled in size.

Add the Rest of the Ingredients

I love how easy this recipe is. There are no special instructions. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add everything else, and mix. The dough should be rather loose, not quite even a dough. Once it is well combined, begin adding the flour a cup at the time, incorporating it as you go. The goal is a soft dough, not a dry one, but not sticky, either. You should be able to pat it with your finger tips and find it tacky but not sticky. If using a mixer, it's generally just right when the dough will stick to itself and "clean" the bowl. The best bread, in terms of lightness and tenderness, is that made from the softest dough.

Freshly Ground Wheat Berry Flour

White flour works as well as freshly ground, and a fifty/fifty combo also makes a lovely bread!
White flour works as well as freshly ground, and a fifty/fifty combo also makes a lovely bread!

Unbleached Bread Flour

In this particular baking, I used half freshly ground and half unbleached bread flour.
In this particular baking, I used half freshly ground and half unbleached bread flour.

Warm Milk

Liquid should be warm but not hot. Warm cold milk before using. If you accidentally get it too hot, allow it to cool slightly before using, or it will kill the yeast.
Liquid should be warm but not hot. Warm cold milk before using. If you accidentally get it too hot, allow it to cool slightly before using, or it will kill the yeast.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The addition of a little apple cider vinegar is an old Amish "dough enhancer," and provides a light loaf. It seems to work!
The addition of a little apple cider vinegar is an old Amish "dough enhancer," and provides a light loaf. It seems to work!

Eggs

Eggs should be room temperature. They can be quickly warmed by placing them into a tall glass of hot water for a few minutes prior to using. Eggs are not essential to the recipe ... I have forgotten them before and could barely tell the difference.
Eggs should be room temperature. They can be quickly warmed by placing them into a tall glass of hot water for a few minutes prior to using. Eggs are not essential to the recipe ... I have forgotten them before and could barely tell the difference.

Honey

Brown sugar can also be used, and the sweetener is not essential to the recipe.
Brown sugar can also be used, and the sweetener is not essential to the recipe.

Wheat Germ

Adding wheat germ to the dough adds flavor, nutrition and a slight fleck of color
Adding wheat germ to the dough adds flavor, nutrition and a slight fleck of color

Salt

If my salt looks pink, it's because it is! I enjoy using Himalayan Crystal Salt, and it has a pink color.
If my salt looks pink, it's because it is! I enjoy using Himalayan Crystal Salt, and it has a pink color.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the world's most healthful oils. When baking a plain or sweet loaf like this I use light olive oil
Olive oil is one of the world's most healthful oils. When baking a plain or sweet loaf like this I use light olive oil

The Amazing Bosch Universal Mixer

Bosch MUM6N10UC Universal Plus Stand Mixer, 800 watt, 6.5-Quarts
Bosch MUM6N10UC Universal Plus Stand Mixer, 800 watt, 6.5-Quarts

Many people have written to ask me about my mixer. Featured here is the updated model of my mixer. I use a Bosch Universal Mixer. Mine is now almost 25 years old! A dozen years ago I purchased a Kitchen Aid type mixer to replace it if ever it gave up the ghost, but I eventually got tired of storing it, and gave it to my daughter. The Bosh Universal is an extraordinary workhorse, and has proven to be one of the best expenditures of housekeeping money that I've ever made.

 

Knead the Dough

Once the ingredients have been incorporated, knead by hand or with dough hooks for approximately four minutes. It's rather hard to over-knead dough by hand (you get tired first!) but it is important to not over-knead it when using a mixer and dough hooks. Over-kneaded dough makes a heavy and unattractive loaf. Properly kneaded dough is stretchy and elastic. It does not take as long to knead the dough in an electric mixer as it does when kneading by hand.

Once the dough is kneaded, use oiled hands to place it in a greased bowl, turning once so that the top of the dough is protected by a layer of oil. Cover with a warm, damp towel and allow to rise until doubled.

Cover Dough With a Damp Towel and Let Rise Until Doubled

Covering the dough with a damp towel protects it from drying out and keeps anything in the air from falling into it as well.
Covering the dough with a damp towel protects it from drying out and keeps anything in the air from falling into it as well.

Divided Dough

Make these as equal in size as possible, since they will be baking for the same length of time.
Make these as equal in size as possible, since they will be baking for the same length of time.

Divide the Dough

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down, (I beat it with my fist all around in the bowl to get as much air out as I can) and turn out onto a clean, oiled counter top. Knead by hand two or three times and shape into a round ball. Using a serrated knife, divide the dough into four equal portions. Pick them up and feel their weight. Take a little from a heavier section and add it to a lighter one if necessary to make them of approximately equal size and weight.

Risen Dough

These loaves are ready to go into the oven.
These loaves are ready to go into the oven.

Shape the Dough Into Loaves

Grease four loaf pans with white vegetable shortening (works better than oil) and set aside.

Take each section of dough and knead a time or two and shape into loaves, placing into greased pans. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and allow the loaves to rise until almost doubled. They will rise a tiny bit more when in the oven, so do not allow them to over rise in the pans. Should this happen, it is better to take the dough out, knead and reshape it and let it rise again than to bake a loaf that rose too much.

Bake for 25-27 minutes. Know your oven, as each has its individual characteristics. My oven is a convection oven, and my pans are longer and narrower than many of the "fat" loaf pans. Your loaves may need to bake longer than mine.

Bread done when the loaf has a "hollow" sound when tapped on the top. If bread browns too rapidly in the oven, protect the tops with a sheet of tin foil.


Brush Loaves With Butter

Once out of the oven and the pans, brush each loaf all over, including the bottom, with melted butter. Doing so makes the exterior of the loaf as soft as the interior, as well as adds flavor.
Once out of the oven and the pans, brush each loaf all over, including the bottom, with melted butter. Doing so makes the exterior of the loaf as soft as the interior, as well as adds flavor.

Cool, Brush with Butter, and Enjoy!

When your loaves are ready, remove them from the oven and from their pans (use oven mitts, they will be very hot!) and place on wire racks on the counter to cool. Brush each loaf with melted butter, which will keep them soft and prevent them from drying out. Cover with a dry dish towel. When thoroughly cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil, or place in bags. Do not wrap up bread that hasn't completely cooled, for it will "sweat."

Congratulations! You have just made four of the most wonderful loaves of bread ever to grace a kitchen ... from scratch. You may never buy store bought bread again!

The Finished Product!

Delicious, nutritious, home made bread from scratch!
Delicious, nutritious, home made bread from scratch!

More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

Roberta 4 years ago

I could almost smell it baking.


Granny Gee/Gloria 4 years ago

This is beautiful! All the photos along with directions and other little pieces of information (for instance... I didn't know yeast could last indefinitely in the freezer!).... I learned something fun and new!)...makes this a wonderful article! The bread turned out beautifully!


Lynn Reagan-Hull 4 years ago

I haven't baked bread in years, and this article makes me want to get back in to doing it again! Makes it look so easy. The photos are great.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 4 years ago

Interesting recipe and great photos. Thanks


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

Rjsadowski ... thank you! I hadn't even planned to do an article on it, just to make bread, and then thought to take the photos as I did it ... I'm thrilled to be able to share something this wonderful with the world!


sandy280 profile image

sandy280 4 years ago from East Coast

I used to make yeast bread in my breadmaker and everyone loved the aroma of it baking. However, since I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I've cut back on my bread baking. Reading your wonderful write-up and recipe, along with the great photos, has made me decide to start baking bread again. Thanks for the recipe and the tips, especially the one about freezing the yeast. I didn't know this and cannot tell you the number of yeast packages I've thrown away because I didn't use them before the expiration date! That tip alone will save me lots of money. Thanks, again.


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

Sandy, thank you for your sweet comments. I don't know a lot about diabetes, but I do know that complex carbohydrates, which freshly ground wheat berries certainly are, take much longer to digest than do simple carbs like white flour. If you were to eliminate most of the sugar, it would probably be good for you body AND soul!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I grew up eating homemade bread that my mother made and in later years, when living back in Wisconsin, I made homemade breads of various types. Even divided the dough into thirds and braided some of the loaves. Very pretty results. You are right in that the house smells heavenly when fresh bread is baking and fresh from the oven. Great hub with excellent photos. Up, useful and beautiful votes.


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

Peggy, I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub on bread baking. It's wonderful to be able to recreate at will the smells of home by simply getting busy in the kitchen. One day I'm going to branch out and try pumpernickel and rye and maybe even braid a few loaves myself!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Brett,

I did make breads with those different flours. All good! If I remember correctly, prior to baking the braided white bread loaves which were not put in loaf pans but baked on cookie sheets, I brushed egg white over it and it came out nice and crusty with a sheen.

I did all the kneading by hand as did my mother years earlier. This is really bringing back memories! :))


Sula5 4 years ago

Looks wonderful! I am new to grinding my own wheat berries- I think I have soft white and hard red in my pantry. Does hard white work the best? (that's what you used, right?) thanks!


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

The ones I have are "Prairie Gold" and the name might have changed over the years. They keep forever, and I started off with ten five gallon buckets of them over ten years ago, lol. I've had the red, too. The red berries are smaller and darker, the white light colored and plump. Both are wonderful. The red berries make a browner colored loaf that tastes more like store bought "whole wheat" bread. The white berries are a class unto themselves. They have a different flavor, and it is wonderful. I like a loaf that is entirely made of ground wheat berries, but my family prefers it when I mix it with some store bought bread flour. Just start playing! You can't go wrong, and soon you'll have developed your own favorites!!!


sandy280 profile image

sandy280 4 years ago from East Coast

Thanks, Brett! I agree with you. I started buying wheat flour; however, a friend recommended I read Wheat Belly, advising NOT to eat wheat. lol So, I will check into the other options. I still loved seeing your photos and reading your instructions. Keep it up!


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

I have a number of friends who do not do well eating wheat; they have Celiac's Disease. It is fascinating to me how individual each person's body chemistry seems to be! Thanks for the recommendation, had not heard of that. I will check it out ... sounds like something you could write a hub about!


Sula5 4 years ago

Made this bread and it was a huge success! I used soft white berries for half the flour and bread flour for the other half. I plan on steadily increasing the wheat berry proportion so my kids don't notice. :) Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

I am SO glad you liked it, and appreciate your saying so more than you know!!! Thank you!


sandy280 profile image

sandy280 4 years ago from East Coast

Brett, I, too, believe it makes a lot of sense to cut out all "killer starches" (check out this web site which probably helped save my life: http://www.killerstarch.com/) Everyone needs to rethink their food habits and learn how to eliminate all white carbs. We definitely need to consider all alternatives. I will consider that new hub challenge! lol Spelt is one alternative; however, it does have gluten, so it would not work for those needing to avoid gluten. Being good for body and soul is important. Happy 4th!


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 4 years ago from US Author

Sandy, I will check it out ... thanks for the link! I have many celiac friends and am sympathetic to all of the challenges they face just to put food their families can safely eat on the table!


Susan 3 years ago

We use to go to grandmas house on Tuesdays. That was bread making day. Add a little freezer strawberry jam and mmmmmmm.


Brett Winn profile image

Brett Winn 3 years ago from US Author

I was in college when I made my first loaf of bread and ate it with butter and (no lie!) my own freezer strawberry jam. It was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life, I felt like I belonged on Little House! If only I'd known how to make butter then! Thanks for stopping by and for refreshing that wonderful memory!


Iris Draak profile image

Iris Draak 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Great article, Brett. I too have been baking for 20+ years but had never heard about the apple cider vinegar tip. I'll have to try that. It just goes to show that you can always learn something new. Thanks. :)

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