I have a small secret to share. I bake bread a few times a week. OK, that's not the secret.
The secret is that I am able to bake bread so often because my recipe bakes up in an hour. An hour from grinding the wheat to pulling it out of the oven.
This is a miracle in the world of large family baking! I can have fresh bread baked up for lunch or dinner in a snap!
Because many of my friends and customers are so mystified by my abilities to milk cows, churn butter and bake bread, while homeschooling 7 kids, I feel it only time to set the record straight!
I am not super woman. I do not slave over bread baking, or any chore for that matter.
In fact, if bread required that I spend half my day tending to rise times and punch downs, I would be buying those cheap store brand loaves at the grocery store. While we are at it, lets' set that record straight too. If I am having a crazy week, You will find store loaves on my pantry shelves:-)
No super powers here, but if I can keep my attention focused, the house will run smoothly and I will be baking bread in the evening while the kids clean up the dinner dishes.
So here is where I will share my recipe, developed by my fabulous big sister...who also has quite a household to manage.
I grind my wheat up first. I prefer hard white wheat, but hard red wheat will do. Red wheat is more dense and I do not like it alone as my only bread flour. Sometimes I will use half whole wheat and half bread flour, such as those times I need a new wheat bucket opened and my strong husband is not home to pry the lid off for me. Sometimes I will throw some oats in too because it will really add a nice crunch to toast.
This bread uses about 10-12 cups of flour, so you have to have a sturdy way to mix it up. I use my trusty (and old) Dimension 2000 mixer with the dough hook.
First I add very warm, almost hot water. 4 cups of water. Then I add 2 TB of instant yeast. I buy my yeast at Costco, and if you start baking bread several times a week you will buy it in bulk too.
I also add 1/4 C gluten and 4 cups of flour. I mix the dough quickly for about 10 seconds and then let it rest while I gather the rest of the ingredients.
Gather 1/3 C oil, 1/3 C honey and 1 TB salt. I use olive oil, but you can use whatever oil you want. Again, I buy my olive oil in bulk because we use it so often.
Your dough is starting to look a little bubbly now. Pour in the oil, honey and salt.
Start the mixer and start adding four, one cup at a time. You will add 6-8 cups, depending on the season and weather. Add flour until the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl well, then keep mixing it for another 5 minutes.
Get your pans ready by lightly spraying them with oil. I use two large pans I bought from Bread Beckers. These are 2 lb loaf pans. If you use regular loaf pans, you should be making three loaves of bread.
Take your dough out and divide it into 2 pieces (or three) and shape it into a loaf and put t in the pans. I do not stress too much over making these loaves look perfect. I just smooth them out and around and put them in the pan.
If you are feeling creative, you can roll the dough out into a rectangle and cover it with honey, butter, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, apple pieces...you name it! Then roll it up and seal down the edges for a loaf of specialty bread!
Now for the rising part. Your oven should be cold. Place the loaves in the oven and turn the oven on to 170 degrees for 20 minutes. Do NOT be tempted to open the oven door while the dough rises. This is the beauty of this bread. It will rise in 20 minutes. Set the timer.
When the timer goes off, bump the temp up to 350 and set the timer for 30 minutes. DO NOT open the oven door:-) Turn on the light and see how the dough is rising. Now we bake it! Set the timer.
When 30 minutes is up, remove the pans and let them sit for a few minutes on a cooling rack.
Remove the bread (carefully) from the pans and let them sit on the cooling rack. Take some butter and rub it all over the tops and down the sides. This will soften the crusts and make your sandwiches yummier! :-)
I usually let them sit on the racks overnight, and we have fresh bread for toast in the morning.
I suggest using an electric knife to slice the bread too. A regular serrated knife will work but and electric knife allows you to get even and smooth slices quickly.
After a day and night full of Halloween candy tonight, I bet a slice of fresh whole wheat bread would be delicious!
If you have an hour this afternoon, get to baking!
One Hour Whole Wheat Bread
4 C very warm water
2 TB instant yeast
1/4 C gluten
1/3 C oil
1/3 C honey
1 TB salt
10-12 C whole wheat flour
In large mixer combine water, yeast, gluten and 4 C flour. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Add oil, honey, salt and start mixer. Add remaining flour one cup at a time until it pulls from side of bowl well. Allow to mix 5 minutes.
Remove from bowl and divide into 2 sections. Shape dough into loaves and place in lightly oiled pans.
Place in cold oven and turn oven on at 170 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not open oven door.
Increase temp to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven to cooling rack for a few minutes. Carefully remove bread from pans and rub butter over tops and sides. Allow bread to finish cooling on rack.
Yields: Two 2lb loaves or 3 regular loaves
Happy Halloween Ya'll!