Homemade bread is more flavorful, nutritious, and even cheaper! While it does take some time, I usually just make multiple loaves at a time and put them in the freezer. That way, I only have a busy baking day every few weeks. It is also astonishing when you look at the ingredients on the back of the store-bought bread packaging. There are dozens of ingredients and many of them I can’t even pronounce. But did you know that all you really need for bread was flour, yeast and water?
We buy our grains from a local farm in Shedd, Oregon called Green Willow Grains. They are local, organic, and reasonably priced. We buy 25 pounds of Hard Red Wheat Berries and this lasts us a few months of making bread, waffles, pancakes, and any other item we need flour for. I store the grains in food-safe plastic buckets in our back pantry. I can easily go back and scoop out what I need. You can often find wheat berries in the grocery store packaged or in the bulk section. I would stick to Hard Red or Hard White Wheat Berries for making bread.
Grains are typically harvested in the fall, so in a couple months I am going to head to their farm and buy a year’s supply of grains for our family. I am not even sure how much this will be yet, I’ll keep you posted when it gets closer!
Grind Grains into Flour
I also started grinding our own flour about a year ago. A dear family friend gave me her grain mill, which was such an amazing gift for our family. We have a Magic Mill III, which they don’t make anymore, but it still works great for us! Store-bought flour is typically not fresh, therefore it loses a lot of flavor and nutrition. And they may even add preservatives or bleach the flour. When you grind your own flour, you get the entire grain! All of the good stuff and very fresh! Keep in mind, when grinding flour, 1 cup of grains makes 1.5 cups of flour.
Making Whole Wheat Bread
I’ve made many different kinds of whole wheat bread, some easy, some hard, some good and some bad. Thanks to one of my expert baking friends, I finally found a recipe that is easy and good! The recipe comes from a great cooking website called Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. We don’t use a bread machine, just our handy KitchenAid Mixer and our hands!
This whole process may seem time-consuming, but we enjoy having a connection with the food we eat. Straight from the wheat farm, we grind our wheat and then knead our own bread to enjoy as a family!
Ok, enough talk! Let’s make bread!
Our Favorite Whole Wheat Bread
While you really only need flour, yeast and water to make bread, there are a few more ingredients that make it even more delicious! This recipe makes 4 loaves of wheat bread. My mixer sometimes has trouble with making 4 loaves at a time, so sometimes I half the recipe. Most bread recipes call for 2 rising session, one after you knead the dough and another after it is placed in the bread pans. This recipe, however, only calls for 1 rising session, after you put the dough in the bread pans. That is why I love this easy recipe so much!
- 5 1/2 cups of warm water
- 10 cups of whole wheat flour
- 2 cups of while flour
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten
- 2 tablespoons of instant dry milk
Mix together the water, yeast and sugar into your mixing bowl of your mixer. Let stand 5 minutes until you see the yeast start to “wake-up” and foam.
While your waiting, grease your 4 bread pans. I took the advice given on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe website and bought a couple of the Chicago Metallic bread pans. I agree, very good pans if you need a recommendation!
After about 5 minutes, you should start to see the yeast mixture foam up.
Add 2 cups of white flour and mix together.
Begin adding the whole wheat flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each cup added.
When I get to about 8 to 9 cups, my mixer gets pretty full. So, I often take out the sticky dough and place it on the counter. I knead in the last 1 to 2 cups of flour by hand.
Then I continue kneading for about 15 to 20 minutes. It will be sticky and your hands will be a mess, but just keep kneading and add a little more flour to your hands if necessary. After a few minutes, the dough will start to tighten up and form a nice elastic ball.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces, each resembling a small loaf of bread.
Place each piece of dough in the greased bread pan.
Cover the bread pans with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has risen about 1 to 1 1/2 inches about the top of the pan. If you have a warm kitchen, this may only take an hour or so. For me, it usually takes 2 hours. So, just let it sit and go play with the kids or read a book!
Now you should have 4 pans of risen dough, resembling your 4 loaves of bread.
Put them into the cold oven and then set the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. The tops will become golden brown and a bit crusty.
Remove from the oven and let sit a few more minutes in the pan. Then remove from the pans, sometimes this takes a plastic knife, and let cool on some cooling racks.
You can eat it fresh or put it in the freezer for later. Just make sure to let it cool completely before putting it in a bag.
We hope you enjoy this bread as much as we do!