My passion for wholesome, homemade, nutrient rich food all began with whole wheat bread. I was 23 years old and not yet married. I was invited to a “bread making class” that was being held in the home of a super-star mom/wife who was homeschooling five kids and cooking up such delicious food in her kitchen! Once a month she would invite a small group of ladies over to teach them how to do the same. I felt a little bit like a child in a kitchen full of mothers, but I was excited to count myself among these amazing woman and I was determined to become one of them some day.
I remember being so enthralled by her cooking style. She was so at ease in her kitchen. The way she handled the ingredients and spoke about their importance. The way she knew exactly when to stop adding flour and allow the dough to kneed. She was in her element and such a natural! I wanted an impartation of that gift, but I knew that it would take time and effort to cook so effortlessly.
I had a notepad and pen, I wrote it all down, I purchased large buckets of wheat (not flour, wheat berries!), I bought a Nutramill (it’s an electric mill. I don’t hand grind the berries in an apron and bonnet like an Amish woman, although that would be fun!) and a Bosch mixer. I was ready to make bread, from scratch!
It has been 10 years since I started making bread. I still use the roughly the same process, but it has evolved over time. Sometimes I add an egg, sometimes I use a little orange juice. I used to use honey to sweeten, now I use sugar. Over the past 10 years I have burned loaves, I have made terribly dense bread and I have made huge light fluffy loaves that come out of the oven with such an aroma that my heart swells and I am so glad to be a woman! But what I love is that through all of the trial and error, bread making has become such an extension of me. I have acheived my goal…I am one of them!
But now when I make bread, the kids are there, they help where they can and each of them gets a portion of the dough to create something of their own. I love seeing them becoming confident in their culinary experiments!
One day I think I may even invite some ladies over for a class!
- 6 cups of whole wheat flour (fresh milled)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons of yeast
- 3 cups of warm filtered water
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 cup (or so) of raw sugar
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- Put 3 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, water and oil into the bowl of a mixer and combine.
- Let sit and sponge for 10min.
- Add salt and remaining flour and knead on speed 2 for 5min.
- Let rest for about 30min in the bowl.
- Place on floured surface and separate into 2 loaves.
- Gently kneed and shape and fill prepared bread pans.
- Brush with egg wash or butter.
- Cover gently with plastic wrap and let rise for 30min.
- Bake on 350 for 35min.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook add 3 cups of wheat, the yeast and sugar. Mix for a few seconds to incorporate the ingredients. Add the oil to the warm water and pour in with mixer on speed 2 until all the ingredients are combined, then let sit for 10 minutes. This is called “sponging”. While you are waiting put the salt into the remain flour. Don’t mix it, just put it right on top so you don’t forget about it.
Once the sponging process is complete, turn the mixer back on speed 2 and begin adding the remaining flour once cup at a time, beginning with the portion that has your salt. Go slow, adding one cup at a time until your dough forms a ball. This is where your recipe collides with your intuition. Trust your intuition. Once you have the formation of the ball, allow the dough to knead on speed 2 for 5 minutes. Take the dough out and have a moment, hold it, love it, feel good about yourself.
After the rising period, bake on 350 for 35 minutes. I always place a little tin foil sheet on top for the last 20min, so the crust isn’t too thick, or brown or crunchy.
Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.
Get the softened butter and some raw honey or your favorite jam. Gather the kids around (if they aren’t already hovering) and prepare to eat one entire loaf immediately. You can use the other one for sandwiches or toast the next morning, but no one can resist eating delicious piece after piece slathered with butter and honey! This is a childhood memory I want engrained in the minds of all my children.