Updated: Jan 11
Let’s be honest; most people don’t think of baking bread as a fun recreational activity. New reports have shown that while lots of people gave it a go during the pandemic, most have since abandoned the effort. Maybe they’ve gone back to the office, or their social activities have picked back up. Either way, the extra time to mix, knead, and wait on bread is no longer available.
Yet, I have been making my own bread for longer than COVID has been around. You’re probably wondering why. It’s simply, really. I actually enjoy baking. In five years of owning a bakery, I rarely made a loaf of bread. That was my ex-husband’s department. However, as a recreational pastime, I have learned to embrace this new skill. Here are a few of the reasons why.
It’s Easy To Make
For starters, making bread is actually really easy. My daughter tells me people find baking fresh bread difficult, and I struggle to see why.
The recipe I use (loosely) is very simple. You pour the ingredients into your mixer, let it go for 5 minutes or so, and then roll and shape the dough. Then, you just put it in the warm oven for about 20 minutes, giving it a chance to rise. Once it does, just turn up the heat, set the timer for another 25 minutes, and walk away. I’ll share the recipe with you so you can try your hand at it.
Homemade Bread Is Minimally Processed
With a heavy push in the nutrition and wellness community to reduce processed foods, this is a big reason for a lot of people to try and cook more at home.
The truth is store-bought bread is designed to last for weeks on store shelves and your countertop. It has probably been passed through more machines than you care to think about. Plus, it is often loaded with preservatives and additives (and probably some other “tives” I don’t know about).
I Control the Ingredients
I am not a control freak by any means of the word. I understand that I have very little say over what goes on in the big scheme of things. I do, however, like to be careful of what goes into my body. When I make my own bread, I know exactly what goes into my bread (all 6 ingredients) and I can adjust the recipe to make it exactly how I want it.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
This recipe is very easy to get started with. It is basic, so adjust as you prefer for taste. You an easily double it and make 2 loaves since it freezes well. In fact, once my loaves cool, I slice them and freeze them. Fresh bread only lasts about 3 or 4 days on the counter!
· 3 12 -4 cups whole wheat flour
· 1 1/2 cups hot water
· 1/3 cup raw honey
· 1 pkg yeast (or about 2 1/4 tsp)
· Sprinkle of salt
· Olive oil
1. Turn the oven on to about 225 degrees
2. Put the water and honey in a glass container (I use a big measuring cup)
3. Add the yeast and stir gently. Let it sit for about 5 minutes
While the water/yeast/honey mixture is developing, you can grease your pan (olive oil works great) and line it with parchment paper or a silicone liner if desired. Now is also a good time to get your dry ingredients out.
4. Add the wet mixture to your mixer. Attach a dough hook and turn it to a mid-range setting (I usually start around 3 and work up)
5. Add the flour 1 cup at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the sides.
6. Sprinkle the salt in.
7. Let it knead for about 5 minutes.
While that is going on, you can wash the measuring cups and spoons.
8. After 5 minutes or so, grease up your hands with some olive oil and turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
9. Knead it 3 or 4 times.
10. Flatten it out to about the size of a piece of paper
11. Starting at a short end, roll it up.
12. Place the dough in your pan, seam down.
13. Place it in the middle of your oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.
14. When the timer goes off, check the dough. It should be about at the top of your pan. If not, leave it a few more minutes.
15. Turn the oven to 375 degrees and reset the timer for 25 minutes.
You know the bread is done when you tap on it and get a hollow sound.
16. When the timer goes off, take your bread out, rub a stick of butter on it for flavor if you like, and put it on a rack to cool.
That’s it. Do not put it in a bag or container until it is completely cooled.