Is there anything more welcoming than the smell of homemade bread? I’ll never forget how my grandma used to slice it nice and thick, cover it with a generous blanket of real butter, and top it off with a sprinkle sugar. During fall and winter it would get juicy homemade raspberry jam with berries straight from the garden dolloped on top. If you’re lucky enough to catch the bread while it’s still warm it melts the butter so everything can seep in making it a fluffy, melty, sweet treat. It’s like comfort food on steroids. I have continued this tradition with my own children. When children are welcomed home by that scent, they know instantly what’s coming.
Super Easy, No Fail Homemade Bread
I was blessed with a mother who is an expert bread baker. The funny thing is, she thinks homemade bread is super easy and it’s no big deal to have it turn out perfect every time. Seriously perfect. If I think my own bread is achieving near perfection and have a slice of my mom’s, let’s just say doubles as a slice of humble pie. Hat’s off to you mom. Baking a fluffy, yet chewy loaf can be an intimidating task for many people.
This recipe has been tested and retested about a hundred thousand times so I am certain ANYONE can get great results baking their own homemade bread. The trick my mom taught me is, go with your instincts. Each time you mix up a batch of homemade bread dough, it will be a bit different. A little more flour this time, a little less that. The weather, humidity, and elevation all play a part. Even the moisture level of your wheat/flour can make a difference. Watching the dough as it mixes will help you get the flour content just right.
Allow your dough to rise in a warm oven, then pull it out when it’s time to preheat.
Nurture it as you do your children – watch them grow, love the smell, enjoy the warmth. Each loaf is sure to bring you joy.
Don't let bread baking intimidate you. This recipe is easy enough for beginners but yummy enough for experts.
- 3 cups warm water The temperature should be hot to the touch, but not too hot to leave your hand in it for a while. About 105-115 degrees.
- 1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 5 cups whole wheat flour I grind my own wheat so it's super fresh. The fresher the flour, the higher the protien content which will give bread better results and nutrition.
- 3-4 cups white bread flour I use turkey brand from Lehi Roller Mills. It's awesome! Bread flour has a higher gluten content (yes, you want gluten in bread) and is a must for good texture.
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey
In a medium bowl, gently stir yeast into water. Cover bowl with a plate and set aside.
Add 3 cups of the whole wheat flour and the salt into the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix to combine.
After the water mixture has been sitting for about 5 minutes there should be some foamy bubbles forming along the top of the water. This lets you know the yeast is alive and working properly. If there aren't any bubbles, wait another 5-10 minutes. If there still aren't any bubbles, throw it out, go to the store for fresh yeast, and start over. This step is really important. If you're yeast is dead, your bread won't rise.
If your yeast looks good, add the oil and honey to the water mixture. Gently stir to combine. Do not add the salt to the water mixture. Salt and yeast don't get along and the salt will kill the yeast.
Using the bread dough hook with the mixer on low speed, slowly add the water mixture to the flour/salt mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to mix thoroughly. It should look something like thick paste.
Slowly add the remainder of the wheat flour followed by 3 cups of the white flour. The total amount of flour added will vary based on several factors, i.e. humidity, elevation, moisture content of flour. You have to just use your gut here. Continue adding flour until it get to the right consistency. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl as it mixes, but come away from the sides. When you press the dough with your finger it should be soft, like a baby's bum. It should also stick to your finger just a little when you pull it away.
After the flour is all mixed in and you have reached the right consistency, stir on medium for 5 minutes to knead the dough. This develops the gluten and gives your bread a soft chewy texture.
Dump dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and divide in half. Roll and shape each half into a loaf bout the length of your pan.
Place each loaf of dough into a lightly oiled bread pan (I like the really long ones so it's more like bread from the store). Turn it in the pan to coat the entire surface with oil.
Place pans in the oven and turn on to 350 for 1 min. Then turn the oven off and allow the bread to rise in the warm oven for 25-35 minutes. It should rise 1/2 to 3/4 inch above the rim of the pan.
About 10 minutes before bread is done rising take it out of the oven and preheat oven to 350. Bake bread for 25 to 30 minutes. It's done if it sounds hollow when tapped gently with the end of your fingers.
Allow bread to cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out on a cutting board to finish cooling.
This recipe is not complicated but there are three things that will make or break results.
- Water temperature has to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not hot enough to kill it. Be good to your yeast.
- Make sure your yeast is alive. If there are foamy bubbles after 5 minutes of dissolving yeast in water, you're golden.
- A little trial and error goes a long way for flour content. If at first you don't succeed. Feed it to the kids with plenty of jam and try again.
Be sure to have at least one or two slices while it’s warm the way grandma used to do it. Thick butter and sugar are especially important. For the more health conscious, try a slice of toast with this amazing smoothie.