Since writing a post about our wood stove last week, I’ve received lots of questions about bread. How to make bread, what’s the recipe I use, how can you shape breads without the use of a loaf pan, etc. I thought the best way to address some of these questions would be to do a post about bread.
There’s basically one recipe for bread that I like to use but that’s not to say I don’t play around with other bread recipes. I love to bake, so I like to experiment with different baking ideas. However, from experience, the following recipe has gotten the best results for our daily bread, and by results I mean, how it bakes up, how it slices, how it gets devoured (think teenagers here) and perhaps also the ease of the recipe, but when you’ve been making bread for over 20 years this is not a complicated matter.
First we grind about 4-5 cups of organic grain. Now, don’t quit reading this post if you don’t have a grain grinder, just follow the recipe using the amount of flour called for. You don’t need a grain grinder to make bread but if fresh flour is important to you then look into getting one. For grain we prefer to use spelt, but you can use whole wheat too. Lightly sift the fresh flour after grinding using a regular sieve, this gets out the really course bran which you can save for making bran muffins or soak in a bit of yogurt and feed it to the chickens like I do.
This basic recipe will make 2 loaves of bread:
- 4-5 cups freshly ground grain (may be replaced with whole wheat or unbleached flour)
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoon sweetener (maple syrup, honey or sugar)
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
In a large bowl dissolve sweetener, sea salt and yeast in water, now start adding your flour until the dough starts holding together. Knead the dough for several minutes. You may need to use a little more flour if you have a sticky mess. Add more water (1 tablespoon at a time) if you’ve got a dry, crumbly mixture. For those of you using a stand mixer, just dump all the ingredients in but for 1 cup of flour, and mix on low for about 4 minutes adding the last cup of flour slowly until the dough sticks together nicely. Now you leave the dough rest in a warmish place. Just drape a clean towel over the bowl and let sit for a couple of hours.
Two hours later you come back to your bowl, punch down the dough, divide the dough in half, shape into two loaves and lay on a cookie sheet.
If you prefer to use loaf pans, just grease two of them, divide the dough in half and put each half into a pan.
Cover with the clean towel again. Now you have to let the dough rise a second time. Depending on how hot your kitchen is this could take anywhere from 30-50 minutes. I usually just remove the towel after 35 minutes or so and put the cookie sheet or loaf pans in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.
Bake for 30 minutes but start checking after 25 minutes and cover with foil or parchment paper if the loaves are starting to burn. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.
Now get out some farm fresh butter, maybe some homemade jam too.