How to Make GMO-Free, Hearty, Amish Artisan Bread, Step-By-Step
Making Your Own Bread and Relieving Stress
Imagine vast stretches of farm land with mature wheat growing in neat rows covering gently rolling hills. "Amber waves of grain." Imagine how it must have felt to have the warm sunshine on your face and the wind at your back as you planted, then lovingly tended these fields. That's how fresh Amish bread made from golden wheat feels, smells, and tastes.
In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we hardly give a second thought to the fact that our food had to be grown somewhere, with the exception of a growing awareness that our food supply is infested with GMO laden foods.
I have found an abundant supply of non-GMO foodstuffs at my local Amish grocery store, and you probably can too. Not sure whether there is one near you? Do your homework and try to find out. Even if you had to drive an hour to get to one, it would be well worth it.
Below, I demonstrate how you can make your own GMO-free Amish Artisan bread, and at the end of the article, you will find the recipe. I am not going to lie to you, making this bread takes time. But think of it this way: it is a great way to slow down and really appreciate something; a way to 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 enough bread for yourself and your family for at least a week and you will KNOW where it came from and what is in it!
I will walk you through every step of the process, and have even made a few videos to help out. Set aside at least a half a day, roll up your sleeves, put on some good jazz and get ready to live!
- 2 cups Water, (tepid)
- 3 Tablespoons Yeast, (fast-acting)
- 1/2 cup Honey, (wildflower)
- 1/2 cup Molasses, Black Strap
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
- 1/2 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
- 2 egg yolks, (no white)
How to Tell if Water is Warm Enough for Making Bread
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. When you buy it, it should have been kept in a cool place. Too much heat kills yeast. If you kill your yeast, your bread won't rise and you might as well just make really thick tortillas.
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 could also use the inside of your elbow, but that is a little awkward.
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 barely want it 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 mix with a wooden spoon. A few other ingredients will be added next.
Getting The Right Kind of Yeast For Bread-Making
There are two kinds of yeast, slow and fast, basically. The instant kind is what we will use, and I buy mine in bulk at my Amish grocery store. As you will see from the photo, it is relatively inexpensive, considering you will only use 3 tablespoons of it to make 4 loaves of bread. Think about that for a minute. You pay around $4 to $6 for a good loaf of bread at the deli, and here you are making your own bread for a fraction of the cost. If you do the math, in the end, you can make your own bread for less than $2 a loaf!
How to Tell if the Yeast is Working
Taste the Pure Sweetness!
Ingredients for Homemade Amish Bread
When you are making your homemade Amish bread, you will want to sweeten it just a little. Adding wholesome ingredients makes your bread even better. I use GMO-Free, fresh, local products. My honey came from a stand on the side of the road the next town over. The molasses came from the Amish grocery store and Sea Salt, which is a much healthier alternative, can be obtained at the grocery store.
I like my bread to be slightly salty and slightly sweet. Who wants boring bread? In this recipe, I use 1/2 cup of mountain honey (you could use more if you wanted,) 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 about 10 minutes. When you come back to it, you will see that the yeast has gotten foamy. It smells wonderful, too. Enjoy!
Your yeast is alive and well, and your bread will rise nicely. See the photos below for an example of what it should look like.
Adding Oil Makes Homemade Bread Moist
Adding Oil to Homemade Amish Bread
An important next step is to add oil. 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, but it would not hurt to add a little more. You wouldn't want to put too much in, though.
Here, I pour in the 1/2 cup of oil. 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 give a little richness to the flavor.
Melt Butter in Milk, Cool With Water for Homemade Bread
Add Butter and Milk to Homemade Amish Bread
I add milk and melted butter because I think it helps make the bread moist and gives it a little more flavor. I use organic milk and butter, which I get at my local grocery store. What I do in this step is to melt the butter in a pan with the milk. I think heating milk adds flavor to it. Someone tell me if I'm wrong.
I heat the milk at a low temperature, with the butter in the pan, and only until the butter is melted. I like the way it looks when the butter melts into the milk. At any rate, here, I use 2 Tablespoons of butter, but you could use a little more if you wanted.
Once the butter is melted, I add the two cups of just barely warm water. This cools the milk and butter down, so the heat won't kill the yeast when we add it to the yeast mixture in our mixing bowl.
Not pictured, I add 2 egg yolks for moist bread. You will want to use eggs that are as fresh as possible, from a local farm if you can get them. If not, get the cage free eggs that are certified humane. Separate the egg yolks and discard the whites. Mix the egg yolks in to the batter.
Adding Golden Wheat Flour to Homemade Amish Bread
Golden Wheat Flour, Freshly Ground
Amish Golden Wheat Flour for Homemade Bread
Amish Golden Wheat flour is a beautiful thing. I get it at my local Amish grocery store, Dutch Country Foods in Landrum, SC. When I go in to get it, it is not flour yet. I select the 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 a little more coarse than the flour you are used to, but that is fine. 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. I keep my bags of fresh flour in the refrigerator at all times, unless I am using them. It might be a good idea to take the bag of flour out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for an hour or two before making the bread. This is because the yeast, remember, needs some warmth to grow. Cold flour may slow down the process a little.
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. Here we are talking about money again, but think about that for a minute. How much have we really spent so far for our ingredients? Not much, I'd say, especially considering what you are getting for your money.
Amish Bread Dough Will Resemble Oatmeal at First
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. The dough will begin to get thicker and thicker, until it resembles oatmeal, as you will see in the photo below.
In this recipe, I use 4 cups of the Golden Wheat flour. if you wanted, you could make the whole recipe with it, but I use some regular, unbleached flour because it lightens it up a little. I like dense bread but not that dense!
Getting Your Hands Messy Making Homemade Bread
How to Knead Homemade Amish 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 just think about the good it will do you to get a little exercise. Once you get into a rhythm with it, it is fun!
I added the flour one cup at a time, mixing with my hands and ending with kneading. To knead bread, you pull a hunk up from the bottom, on the outside, fold it over and push down into the middle. As you will see, there will be flour in the middle that is not mixed in. This is what you are working on. You want the dough to be completely mixed, inside and out. As you are adding the flour, the dough will get to a consistency where it is still soft enough to knead easily but just a little sticky. Remember, you are adding the flour one cup at a time. You can stop when the dough gets to the right consistency. Sometimes it varies. You may need all 5, or you may only need 3 cups of the flour.
In the videos below, you will see how I did it, and get some ideas. There is no "right" way, what matters is 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! I find that by doing it this way, I enjoy it and get good results.
How to Knead Homemade Bread part 1
Kneading Bread Dough Part 1
As you have seen, in the first step, the dough was pretty sticky. I was just getting started. We had a little fun with this. In the next video, you see a little more kneading.
How to Knead Homemade Bread Part 2
In the video below, I finish adding all the flour. As I was kneading away, pockets of flour were still coming up from the middle. This is why it is so important to keep kneading for at least five minutes.
My husband, you will notice, really loves this homemade bread and is very excited about the whole process!
How to Knead GMO-free, Amish Artisan Bread Part 2
How to Knead Bread Dough Part 3
Finally, in the third video, you will see how I finished out the kneading process. To knead, you take the outside, fold it up and into the middle, then press down with the heel of your hand. Keep trying and you will have it! Watch and see how it is done.
How to Knead, part 3
Bread Dough Rising Process - Coat the Dough With Oil
This part of the process is just as important as the rest. Coating the dough with oil will keep it good and soft all over. Be generous with the oil. Below is a video showing how I did it.
Greasing the Dough Before Rising
Editing My Photos
How Long Does Homemade Bread Have to Rise?
Once you have kneaded the dough for at least five minutes, you will have built up your arm muscles. Aside from that, it will, be time to coat it with oil in a bigger bowl and let it rise. When it is rising, the bowl needs to be covered loosely with plastic wrap.
Coating the dough with oil helps to ensure that a "skin" does not form on the top of the dough. A skin might cause lumps in the finished bread and you don't want that.
In this step, I form the dough into a ball. It is soft and mostly smooth, holds together well and is slightly sticky. I take a much larger bowl and pour in olive oil, then turn the ball until it is all coated very well. The plastic wrap needs to completely cover the bowl, so I use two pieces. It is put on loosely.
Then comes the relaxation period. 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 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, I think, gives the bread a nice, soft consistency later on.
Bread Dough Rising
More Fun Making Bread - Punching Down the Dough
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. Simply 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 minute or two, 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 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.
Forming Loaves with Homemade Bread Dough
After the dough has rested and you have prepared your pans by coating them with a little 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 pieces. 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 it really good first and you will hear the bubbles popping. Use your fingers to smooth and pinch the dough together where needed.
For the "Italian" loaf, I simply made the dough longer and placed it on a cookie pan. My hope with the rolls was to make something that would be good for a sandwich, but it didn't exactly turn out that way. I would have been better off to make flat circles and place them on a cookie pan. But the rolls were good anyhow.
I included a video, below, to help you get and idea of how it is done. One quick note, though, I forgot to score the loaves, so went back afterwards and made another video to show you how to do that. Scoring the loaves not only makes them look nice, it lets out excess air.
Homemade Bread - How to Form the Loaves
How to make Homemade Bread - Final Rise
Homemade Bread - Let it Rise One More Time
You thought that was it, didn't you? Patience is a virtue, my friend. Let the dough rise one more time while the loaves are in the pan. This time, only for 30 minutes. The dough needs this final rise to get nice and soft and so that you will get a large loaf. Cover the scored loaves loosely with plastic wrap and set a timer.
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 place it in the oven. Handle it gently, so as not to deflate the loaves.
The baking itself will only take 40-45 minutes, so you haven't got far to go. Be sure to have some organic butter and fresh homemade jam handy!
Freshly Baked Homemade Bread
Crusty Outside, Soft Inside - Homemade Bread
Refrigerate Homemade Bread Loaves Before Slicing
Baking Homemade Bread
Make sure your oven is set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You want your bread to 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 or anything like that.
It is done when you can tap on it and it sounds sort of hollow. The rolls don't take as long, probably more like 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 still good.
After the bread is baked, you will want to eat some while it is warm. What a reward for all your hard work!
Don't get hasty about slicing the bread, though. Let it cool by placing the loaves on their sides on the table, or placing the loaves on a wire rack, so the bottoms don't get soggy. After about 15 minutes, place them in the refrigerator for about two hours.
If you try to slices it when it is warm, it will get all smashed. You don't want that. Slice it after it is cold. Take it out of the fridge and use a serrated knife. Don't mash down on it. Use the serrated edge of the knife and a sawing motion to gently slice the bread. You can make your slices as thin or as thick as you like. I put a photo of mine on for you to see. Place the loaves, sliced or not, into ziploc bags. Do not store on a warm countertop, because the bread will get moldy. You can refrigerate or freeze them and take them out as needed.
Slice Homemade Bread While it is Cold
Rate This Recipe - Be Honest, but Kind =D
Instructions In a Nutshell
- 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.
- Add the unbleached flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Then add the golden wheat flour, one cup at a time. 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 minutes.
- Use oil to coat the dough in a larger bowl, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for a full 3 hours.
- Punch down the dough, knead 3 minutes, and form your loaves, rolls etc. Put them in greased pans, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 - 30 minutes. Cool by laying the loaf on its side or sitting it on a cooling rack.
- After 15 minutes, place the loaves in the refrigerator and let them get cold. About 2 hours is good. Then it will be easier to slice them. Place loaves, sliced or not, into plastic bags and store in the refrigerator or freezer.