Make Your Own Whole Grain Bread
Intrigued by the idea of learning to make your own whole grain bread? It is possible! I have been making fresh bread for my family for many years now. Yes, it is healthy. And guess what? They prefer this healthy bread even over store bought artisan bread! If making bread seems overwhelming, take a deep breath and keep reading.
Bread making is not difficult. In fact, once you learn the steps and get a good feel for what the dough should look like and the consistency it should have you'll be able to make all kinds of bread....and you'll wish you had learned sooner!
First Steps to Making Homemade Bread
The first step to bread making is making sure you have fresh, quality ingredients. The most flavorful whole grain bread will come from fresh flour! If you have access to a grain mill, this is the best way to get fresh flour. Flour freshly milled will give your bread a flavor unsurpassed by any bread you've ever eaten. If you do not have a mill, use the freshest flour possible. There are many quality brands available. I like Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur brands.
Start with your mixing bowl fitted with kneading arm or a large glass or stainless steel bowl, if kneading by hand. Add buttermilk, water, yeast and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Mix well, and then let sit for 15 minutes. This is called your sponge.
Once your 15 minutes have passed, it's time to add the rest of your ingredients. Add olive oil (I always add this ingredient first, then use this measuring cup for the honey. It will slide right out!) Next add honey and salt, and 2 cups flour. Mix until incorporated. Continue to add flour by half cupfuls until dough begins to make a ball, collecting the flour from the sides of your bowl. Once this happens, continue to knead until dough is smooth and supple. When I use my Bosch, this process takes 7-9 minutes on speed #2. Kneading by hand will take a little while longer. After dough is kneaded, place dough in well oiled bowl to rise.
Let the Bread Rise
Let your dough rise until doubled. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes til over an hour. One way I check to see if it is done rising (at least this time!) is to poke my finger in the dough. If the finger hole doesn't fill in, it's ready. Ready for what? To rise again! First deflate your dough by reaching down sides of the bowl and pulling dough under and towards the center. Do this all around until the dough is back to the size where you started. This is called "punching down." Let dough rise again. This time it won't take as long.
Once dough has risen the second time, it's time to shape into loaves. Dump dough onto oiled countertop. Using a bench knife, cut dough into sections weighing a pound or so (I make mine 1 # 2oz). I use a bakers scale to weigh my dough in order to make my loaves uniform. Roll tightly into loaf shape. Don't be afraid to handle the dough, you won't hurt it! After I roll the loaf, I give it a little slam on the counter to help remove any air pockets that might be in there.
Place loaf into oiled loaf pan. Let rise until just over the edge of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until tapping the top sounds "hollow."
Let cool before slicing.....if you can!
Healthy Whole Grain Bread Recipe
Karen's Buttermilk Bread
- 3/4 c. buttermilk (Warm, about 110F)
- 1 c. warm water (110F)
- 1Tablespoon instant yeast (like SAF or Fleishman's)
- 1 1/2 c. whole wheat or kamut flour
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 1/3 c. honey
- 2 1/2 t. salt
- whole wheat or kamut flour to finish (approximately 3-4 cups)
Makes 2 loaves.
Making Your Own Whole Grain Bread Is Addictive
Once you get the hang of making your own breads and rolls you will be addicted. The flavor and freshness is far superior to anything you can get anywhere else. After you have made basic loaves a few times try adding other items such as:
- Dried cranberries
Experimenting with flavors isn't the only thing you can do. Create a variety of shapes when you make the loaves, or make rolls with the dough. Let your imagination lead you into a new adventure in breadmaking.