How to Make Gmo-Free, Artisan Whole Wheat Bread, Step-by-Step
How Long Does It Take To Make Artisan Bread?
Making this bread takes time so set aside a half day or more for it. Plan to slow down and really appreciate your food and get in touch with a simpler lifestyle.
The feel of the dough, the smell of the wheat, and the heavenly scent that will fill your house as the bread bakes is enough to melt your cares away. Not to mention the fact that you will have an abundance of delicious bread and you'll KNOW where it came from and what is in it!
I will walk you through every step of the process, so even a beginner should be able to do this. Roll up your sleeves, put on some good jazz and get ready to live!
When Is Water Warm Enough for Yeast?
Since this is a yeast bread, the first thing you need to understand is that yeast is a living organism. The yeast you buy should have been kept in a cool place because too much heat kills yeast. If the yeast is dead, your bread won't rise.
Some recipes I have used in the past called for boiling water or milk and measuring the temperature with a thermometer. I don't think that is necessary. As you will see in the photo above, I am running the water on my hand. But not just on my hand, on my pinkey finger.
You want your water to be tepid, or just warm enough to tell that it is warm. If you like, you could think of it as just warm enough for a baby's bath. Your body temperature, normally, is around 98 degrees, so you want it just a little warmer than that.
In this recipe, you are going to pour one cup of tepid water into a large plastic mixing bowl, then sprinkle 3 Tablespoons of yeast over it and add some flour. Mix well, then leave to sit.
How to Tell if Water is Warm Enough for Making Bread
What Kind of Yeast Should I Buy To Make Homemade Bread?
There are two kinds of yeast, slow and fast. The instant kind is what we will use, and I buy mine in bulk at my local Amish grocery store. It is relatively inexpensive, considering you will only use 3 tablespoons of it to make 4 loaves of bread.
You can also buy yeast at the grocery store, in a little jar, or in individual packets. Each packet is approximately equal to a tablespoon, so for this recipe get at least three packets if you don’t want to buy the jar.
How to Tell If Yeast Is Alive
How Do I Know If My Yeast Is Working?
If you have never used yeast before, you might be wondering how you can tell if the yeast will work. If you have had yeast sitting around for a long time, it may have died, so you may want to test it. This is easy to do.
Add your warm water (not hot) to the yeast, and mix in a couple of tablespoons of flour. The water should be just barely warmer than your body temperature. If you would safely bathe a small baby in it, or it doesn’t burn when you run it over your pinky finger or elbow, it is warm enough.
Give it a little stir, then let it sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes. It should start to foam up, as you see in the photos above.
Ingredients For Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
- 2 cups Water, (tepid)
- 3 Tablespoons Yeast, (fast-acting)
- 1/2 cup Honey, (wildflower)
- 1/2 cup Molasses, Black Strap
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
- 1 egg yolk, (no white)
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil, (extra light)
- 1 cup Organic Milk, (slightly warm)
- 4 Tablespoons organic butter, (melted)
- 4 cups Golden Wheat Flour, GMO-free
- 5 Cups Unbleached Flour, GMO free
How To Make Homemade Bread Taste Great
Adding wholesome ingredients makes your homemade bread taste even better. I use GMO-Free, fresh, local products. My honey comes from a roadside stand and is raw. The black strap molasses adds iron and potassium, and you can get it online if you can’t find it locally. You can also use sea salt or Himalayan salt, which can be easily obtained.
Who wants boring bread? In this recipe, I use 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of black strap molasses, and 1 Tablespoon of sea salt.
Add these ingredients to the water and yeast in the large bowl, mix it up and let it sit for a few minutes. It should get a little foamy and will smell wonderful!
Your yeast is still alive and well, and your bread will rise nicely.
Adding Flavor To Homemade Bread
How Do I Make My Homemade Bread Moist?
An important next step in making homemade whole wheat bread is to add ingredients that will make the bread moist. Adding oil to your bread will help make it moist. You do not want dry, crumbly bread. I use 1/2 cup of oil in this recipe. Adding an egg or even just an egg yolk will help with this as well.
I use extra light-tasting, GMO-free olive oil. You could use almost any cooking oil, I just think olive oil is better for you.
In the next step, you are also going to add milk and melted butter. This will also help make the bread moist, and the butter will add a little richness to the flavor.
Melted Butter in Homemade Bread
Add Butter and Milk to Homemade Bread
I add an egg or egg yolk, milk and melted butter because it makes the bread moist and adds flavor. I use organic milk and Amish roll butter, and I get local eggs or cage free eggs. You will want to heat the milk and butter over a medium heat until the butter is melted. Heating milk adds flavor to it.
Once the butter is melted, I transfer the milk to a bowl to cool, and add 1 cup of tepid water. This cools the milk and butter down, so the heat from the milk won't kill the yeast when you add it to the yeast mixture. Be sure to test it with your pinky finger. If it is too hot to keep your pinky in while you sing the happy birthday song, it is too hot to add just yet.
Golden Wheat Flour, Freshly Ground
How To Get Freshly Ground Flour for Homemade Bread
Golden Wheat flour is a beautiful thing. I get it at my local Amish grocery store. I select a bag of golden wheat berries, and the clerk on hand grinds it into flour before my very eyes. It doesn't get much fresher than that!
This kind of flour is more coarse than the flour you are used to, but that is alright. As it is being ground, the smell of it is amazing, and when you get the bag, it is warm. This is not necessarily a good thing, because this kind of flour can get rancid. So you want to take it home and refrigerate it as soon as possible. I keep my bags of fresh flour in the refrigerator at all times, unless I am using them.
I do take flour out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for an hour or two before making the bread. This helps the yeast out, because yeast needs warmth to grow.
As you will see from the photo, the flour only cost a little over $3 for three and a half pounds. Half the bag makes four loaves. If you think about that for a minute, it is not bad, because you might pay from $4 to $6 for one loaf of fresh bread at the deli - if you can get it.
Add Golden Wheat Flour to Homemade Bread
Adding Flour to Make Homemade Bread
When you have all the liquids, sweeteners, and salt mixed with the yeast, you are ready to start adding the flour. I add the golden wheat flour first, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will begin to get thicker and thicker, until it resembles oatmeal, as you see in the photo.
In this recipe, I use 4 cups of the Golden Wheat flour. if you wanted, you could make the whole recipe with it, but adding some finer, GMO free, unbleached flour makes the bread lighter.
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Dough Will Resemble Oatmeal at First
How to Knead Homemade Bread - Making Bread is Fun!
Now comes the fun part! It is time to add the unbleached, GMO-free flour and get started with kneading. I will not lie to you, it is work. But it is well worth it!
You will definitely have to put yourself into this, but the smell is unbelievably good and it is good exercise for your arms and hands. Once you get into a rhythm with it, it is fun!
To knead bread, you pull from the outside edge, fold it over and push it down into the middle. The flour you are working on mixing may be in pockets or underneath, but this is what you are working on. You just keep pulling from the outside and pushing down into the middle, and giving the dough a quarter turn. Do not skimp on the kneading! It may seem like the longest 5 to 10 minutes of your life, but it is totally worth it.
You want the dough to be completely mixed, inside and out. At first, it will be very messy and sticky. As you are adding the flour, the dough will get to a consistency where it is still soft enough to knead, and not have lumps or pockets of unmixed flour. It should not be hard or dry. (You will inevitably have a lot of sticky dough on your hands at first. As the dough becomes more manageable, go ahead and wash your hands before continuing.)
Remember, you are adding the flour one cup at a time. You can stop when the dough gets to the right consistency. Don‘t overdo it. Sometimes it varies. You may need all 5, or you may only need 3 or 4 cups of the unbleached flour. The dough should be soft and pliable, and even just a little sticky.
What matters is that that the flour gets completely worked in, and the dough is the right consistency. You don't want to end up with a pocket of flour in the middle of your bread! You also don't want it to be too heavy, hard and dry. I find that by doing it gradually, I enjoy it and get good results.
How To Knead The Dough To Make Homemade Bread
How To Prepare Homemade Bread Dough For Rising
This part of the process is just as important as the rest. Coating the dough with a light coating of oil will keep it good and soft all over. If you don't give it a sufficient coating of oil, a skin may form on the outside of the dough while it is rising. This causes lumps in the bread, and you don't want that. Roll the dough all around in the oil and cover all sides.
Bread Dough Rising
How Long Does Homemade Bread Have to Rise?
Once you have kneaded the dough, and coated it with oil, you will have had a good workout and some messy fun. The dough should be soft and smooth, with the outside nicely oiled up.
You will then place the dough into a large, oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap loosely. The plastic wrap should keep out breezes but it should be put on very loosely, because the dough will grow to two or three times its current size. If you don’t like plastic wrap, you can use a damp kitchen towel. You have to cover the dough with something that will keep the moisture in, which will also help to prevent any skin from forming on the outside of the dough.
Now it is time to do a little clean up and have some relaxation. As you will see from the photos, I waited a full three hours. I took a picture each hour so you could see what the dough looked like.This part of the process is very important. The yeast will do its job while you listen to music, go out for a coffee, clean up the kitchen or, as I did, work on editing photos for a hub. Whatever floats your boat!
In the third hour, as you will see in the photos, it doesn't look like it did much, but the action of the yeast is ongoing, and that is what gives the bread a nice, soft consistency later on.
What Do I Do After The Homemade Bread Dough Rises?
If you thought kneading was fun, you will really love this step. Once the dough has risen, and is really soft and fluffy, it is time to "punch" it down. Don't jar the bowl, because you'll spoil all the fun. Take the plastic wrap off gently, then ball up your fist and push it down into the middle. The whole mass will slowly deflate. So much fun!
Once you have punched it down, you want to knead for just a few minutes, to get all the bubbles out. You will notice that the dough goes from being super-soft to being almost rubbery, like gum you have blown bubbles with for too long.
Simply form the dough back into a ball, set it in the bowl, cover it closely with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. While it is resting, you can prepare your pans because after this, you will form the loaves.
After Homemade Bread Dough Rises, Punch It Down
How to Form Homemade Bread Loaves
After the dough has rested and you have prepared your pans by coating them generously with olive oil, it is time to form your loaves. This recipe makes four loaves. Or, you can get creative, as I did and make 2 loaves, an "Italian" loaf and some rolls.
First, cut the dough into four even pieces. I use a serrated knife. After that, you are simply making the shapes you need, like you did as a child with playdough. The important thing is not to leave pockets for air. You don't want big air bubbles in your loaf.
When you are forming your loaves, squish the dough really good first and you will hear the bubbles popping. Use your fingers to smooth and pinch the dough together where needed.
For an "Italian" loaf, I simply make the dough longer and place the whole thing on a cookie pan. Some people like to roll the dough out, then roll it into a log to make loaves but I don’t do that because I don’t get mine tight enough and I end up with holes in my bread. I always put the unattractive side of the loaf down, or the side with any seams, on the bottom of the pan.
Finally, you will want to score the top of the loaf. Scoring the loaves not only makes them look nice, it lets out excess air so you don't wind up with a big hole under the crust.
How to make Homemade Bread - Final Rise
Homemade Bread - Let Loaves Rise Before Baking
You thought that was it, didn't you? Patience is a virtue, my friend. You must now let the dough rise one more time while the loaves are in the pans. But this time it is only for 45 minutes. The dough needs this final rise to get nice and fluffy, so that you will get a large loaf. Cover the scored loaves very loosely with plastic wrap and set a timer. You don't want to let the loaves rise too much, so keep it to the 45 minutes.
You can also preheat your oven while you are waiting. The oven will need to be set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the bread has risen for thirty minutes, you can gently take off the plastic wrap and place the pans in the oven. Take your time and handle it gently, so as not to deflate the loaves.
The baking itself will only take 35-45 minutes, so you haven't got far to go. Be sure to have some fresh butter and homemade jam handy!
How To Bake Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
How to Bake Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Make sure your oven is set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You want your bread to bake slowly and bake all the way through. It will get nice and brown in about 40-45 minutes. You will want to check it at 35 minutes, just in case your oven heats unevenly.
It is done when you can tap on it and it sounds sort of hollow. Rolls don't take as long, so take them out after 20 minutes.
In this baking, my crescent rolls stuck to the side of my "Italian" loaf. I didn't want to deflate the loaf, so I just let them go. They were a little over baked, but still good.
After the bread is baked, you definitely want to eat some while it is warm. The end pieces are fabulous with a pat of butter. What a scrumptious reward for all your hard work!
Don't get hasty about slicing all of the bread, though. Let it cool a little first, by removing the loaves from the pans and placing them on their sides on the table. You can also place them on a wire cooling rack. You don’t want the bottoms to get soggy. Then if you want to taste it, just gently slice off one of the ends.
If you try to slice up the whole loaf when it is warm, you can easily smash the bread and you don't want that. Slice the bread after it is cold. Take your slightly cooled loaves and place them into the refrigerator for about two hours. Do not bag them yet because the loaves will sweat and get soggy.
Crusty Outside, Soft Inside - Homemade Bread
How To Slice Freshly Made Homemade Bread
Do not try to slice homemade bread immediately after it has come out of the oven. First, let it cool in the refrigerator, in the open, and not in a bag. After a couple of hours, take it out of the fridge and use a serrated knife.
When you are cutting, be gentle. Don't mash down on the loaf. Just saw gently with light pressure, and let the serrated edge of the knife do its work. You can make your slices as thin or as thick as you like. You may want to get a bread slicing guide to get more even slices.
Once cooled, whether you slice it or not, put the bread into resealable bags and store in the refrigerator. Do not store on a warm counter top, because the bread will get moldy quickly. You can also freeze the loaves and take them out as needed.
Best Homemade Bread Slicing Guide
Instructions for Making Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
- In a large plastic bowl, mix 1 cup of the tepid water with the yeast, then add 1/2 cup of the unbleached flour. Stir well. Let this sit a few minutes until it gets foamy.
- Melt the butter in the pan with the milk. Cool the milk and butter with the remaining water, then add it to the mixing bowl. IMPORTANT: before adding the warm milk mixture, make sure it is not too hot by swirling your pinky finger in it. You should not feel like your finger is burning. At this step, also add your molasses, honey, sea salt, and egg yolks. Mix thoroughly.
- Add the wheat flour, one cup at a time. Then gradually add the unbleached flour. Use your discretion when adding the last few cups of flour. Your dough should hold together nicely and be relatively smooth, but not dry. In fact you want it just a tiny bit sticky. Start out mixing with a wooden spoon and end up by kneading the dough for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Use oil to coat the dough in a larger bowl, then cover the bowl Completely but loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for a full 3 hours.
- Punch down the dough, knead 3 minutes, let rest 5 minutes while you grease pans, then form your loaves, rolls etc. Put loaves in greased pans, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 - 45 minutes. Cool by laying the loaf on its side or sitting it on a cooling rack. Place unbagged loaves in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours to cool completely before slicing or bagging.
- Place cooled loaves, sliced or not, into plastic bags or airtight containers, and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Do not store on countertop, or the bread may get moldy fast.
Rate This Recipe: Homemade GMO free Whole Wheat Bread
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