Bread Baking with Fresh Ground Flour 101: Thoughts of a Semi-Crunchy Home Manager Part 1

Yes, it’s true. I’m one of those people.

 

I grind my own grain and bake all my own bread and most of our family’s baked goods.

 

Why would a busy mom like me want to do something like that when I can just pick it up at the store and save myself the time? I simply think it’s the healthiest and most economical route…a topic which I touched on recently and to which I will be devoting a whole post in the near future.

 

As I promised here, I’m going to show you exactly how simple it is.

 

My recipe is from Breadbeckers, a wonderful source for all things breadlike. I make a batch of about 10.5 lbs of dough and divide it into 5 loaves of bread and a couple of trays of dinner rolls. The recipe can be scaled to make only a single loaf, five or six loaves, or anything in between. It’s not necessary to start so big…I certainly didn’t, as I’ll explain later.

 


So…here are the ingredients:

 


There are 8 of them. That’s it. And 2 are optional. (Only see 7? Pretend the water is in the picture…I forgot it…oops!)

 

First, I measure my wheat berries into my mill. Generally, one cup of wheat berries yields about a cup and a half of flour. My recipe calls for approximately 16 cups of freshly ground flour, so I put about 11 cups of grain in my mill’s hopper…a little extra, just to be safe…

…and turn it on. In a few minutes, I’ll have 16 cups or so of fluffy, freshly ground flour.

Meanwhile, I give about 2 cups of flax seed a quick whirl in the blender. This ingredient is completely optional but we really like the extra texture and nutrition it adds and it takes all of about 60 seconds more, so I usually add it.

 


Next, I add all my ingredients to my mixer bowl…first the wet, then the dry.
6 cups of hot water…

 


Now, if you’re soaking your grain (which I’ll discuss more at a later date) you’d use buttermilk, thinned yogurt, or another acidic liquid. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Next comes 1 1/3 cups of coconut oil (or whatever oil you prefer)…

 

Then, 1 1/3 cups or so of honey (I say “or so” because this can be adjusted to taste)
Quick tip: If you use the same measuring cup you used for the oil, the honey will slide right out without any mess.

 

 

I also add a couple of eggs…this is totally optional, I just like the extra nutrition and the great texture they give to the dough.

 

 

Finally, I add 2 2/3 tbsp salt (I use Real Salt…good stuff!)

 

 

and 4 tbsp of yeast

 

 

By now, the mill is finished grinding my grain, leaving me a bowlful of fresh flour:

 

I usually start by adding about 12-14 cups of flour to the mixer…

 

I turn the mixer on for 30 seconds or so…

 

 

…then continue slowly adding flour in about 1/2 cup increments until the dough begins to ball up and “clean” the sides of the bowl, like this:

 

Now, I set the timer to let it knead for 12 minutes. In the meantime, I wash the couple of measuring cups and spoons I dirtied, wipe out my mill, and grease my breadpans…

 

When my 12 minutes are up, I have about 10.5 lbs of dough…

 

If the dough seems sticky, I will let it “rest” for 5 minutes or so, if not, I begin shaping my loaves. Sometimes I use a scale, sometimes I guesstimate. I make loaves that are about 1.5 lbs each.

 

 

 

 

Five loaves, rising in the pans:

 

Next, I do the dinner rolls:

 

 


I let everything rise for about 20 minutes and preheat my oven to 350. While it rises, I go about my business, doing whatever else I need to do. Then, I come back and pop everything in the oven. I can fit it all in my regular oven, but since I have a convection oven I sometimes split it up between them.

 

Twenty to twenty-five minutes later, I have an ovenful of fresh, delicious bread!

 

 

To make sure the crust stays soft, I brush melted butter on each loaf and roll….

 

 

A counterful of bread!

 

As soon as it’s cool enough, we slice….

and eat!

 


The kids devour at least half a loaf or half a pan of rolls! I freeze the rest to pull out over the next couple of weeks. A batch like this lasts anywhere from 1.5-2 weeks for our family of six (one of whom is an infant and doesn’t eat any yet!)

 

The entire process, from start until the dough is shaped and rising, generally takes me 20-30 minutes. This time, with all the stopping and wiping my hands to take pictures, not to mention having a cranky baby in a sling throughout most of the process…

 


…it took me close to 45. I spend another 5-10 minutes when everything comes out of the oven, brushing butter on and getting everything out. I certainly don’t think 30-45 minutes every 1.5-2 weeks is much time to provide fresh, healthy bread for my entire family! I waste that much time surfing the ‘net every day!

 

Don’t be intimidated by the size of the batch. It is certainly possible to start smaller…I did! I first began making bread a loaf at a time in my breadmaker. Five years ago, after much research, I purchased my mill. I quickly realized that I needed more than one loaf at a time and bought a second cheapo breadmaker, which allowed me to make two loaves at once. Just over two years ago, I was finally able to purchase my big mixer and begin to make large batches at once. As I said before, the recipe can be scaled to make as much or as little as you need. I also use the same recipe, with the honey decreased and some spices tossed in while it kneads, to make delicious pizza crust.

 

In future posts, I’ll go into detail about why fresh ground flour is SO MUCH healthier, the different types of grain, and what else I make with it all. I’d love to answer any questions about it, so please comment and let me know what else you would like to know! I’ve added more info and resources here.

 

Linked with Tuesday Twisters.

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Comments

  1. Wow! You make breadmaking look more simple then I ever dared hope it could be… getting a bread machine is definitely a future priority, and I'm looking forward to it even more now thanks to this post! 😉

  2. I can't wait to get started! Thanks so much for sharing all you have learned. This is something I have really been wanting to start doing……and not just for bread, but for lots of the home-baked goods. Your posts are exactly what I needed to help get me started. I'll be looking forward to more tutorials!!!

  3. I'm not a baker, but I love the idea of grinding my own flour. You make it all look so easy. Thanks for sharing!

  4. you make it look so easy! I hate store bought bread. how much is all of that equipment?? hmmmm. you really have me thinking… and mouth watering!

  5. Fantastic – I can't wait to read more! It's great to see that you can freeze it. We only go through about a loaf each week. If you're not making as large of a batch, and don't have an awesome mixer like yours, can you use a regular stand mixer? Or would you recommend mixing by hand and kneading by hand? Do they make smaller mills for the grain?

  6. @Monica…the equipment isn't cheap, but it pays for itself quickly! Urban Homemaker (link under "Resources" in my left sidebar) is a good starting place. @melaniet42…the short answer is yes. A stand mixer, like a Kitchen Aid, can work for smaller batches. I'm too lazy to knead by hand, though some do. They do make smaller capacity mills, but the price and size aren't really that much different.

  7. Hee,hee, I'm one of "those people" too! 🙂 Your bread is gorgeous and I love the step by step. Thanks for joining the Tuesday Twister. Oh, and how did you get a red Bosch? Mine is plain old white. I didn't know they had colors. ~Wardeh

  8. I just recently got this recipe, and it has become our favorite. My girls like to have the dough made into mini-buns for their lunch. They eat it plain or fill with a lunchmeat of sorts. :)I made a huge batch of the rolls yesterday and took them to or co-ops luncheon. I served them with honey/butter. Everyone loved them. Your children are beautiful.

  9. Okay. I so want to do this. I have been making bread from the Artisan Bread book and have found a recipe we like, but I only make 2 loaves at a time. It's no knead bread, so it whips up really fast. I use storebought flour, though.So my questions:What kind of mixer do you have?Where do you get your grains? (Did you link to that above? I'll check.)How exactly do you soak the grain, and what are the proportions of buttermilk to flour? Or do you soak grains before you grind?

  10. I did it! I got wheat berries from our co-op, used our old Vita-Mix to grind the flour and made the bread and rolls! My family went nutso over the rolls last night. I haven't cut into the bread yet. I think my water may have gotten too cold or the yeast was bad because it took WAY too long for it to rise……so I'll do better next time.Thanks again!!!!

  11. I just tried this recipe and it is great! I have been looking for one that could be soaked, tastes great and was easy and this one is it.

  12. I just found your blog throught the Raising Homemakers link-up and tried this recipe last week and we loved it! I am wondering how you store your bread in the freezer. I've been slicing it and putting it in freezer bags, but it takes quite a few bags and they always seem to get squished or mis-shapen. Also, any good tips on cutting nice even slices? Mine are randomly thin, thick, or a combo of both!

  13. Thanks for this how-to! I just got my grain mill running and am ready to start making bread, but I'm looking for the perfect recipe. I really want to soak my grain – do you think that would affect the way this recipe turned out?

  14. I'm going to try this tonight with a mix of gluten-free flours. im stoked to see you add eggs for nutrition, that means I can go egg-free and its ok.I get to calculate everything out now… wooot. and doing it by hand!:)I will let you know how it goes!

  15. if i were to scale this down, do I do it by weight?

  16. also, when do you knead, and do you do a rise or two?

  17. Kara, Oh…my…goodness…this looks SO GOOD. My mouth is watering. LOL But, I do not have a mixer like yours. Have you made this recipe without a mixer? How would you adjust for this? Probably cut the recipe down to 1/3 to make it more manageable? Hmm…(LargeFamiliesOnPurpose.com)

  18. Kara,So we have been SO enjoying making your bread! And the pictures have been perfect for us rookies at bread making – I printed off the whole post so I could reference it as we went. I'm so visual this is perfect for me. We first made a 1/4 size recipe, then a 1/2 size recipe (of your large one), and now we were blessed to be able to purchase a nice stand mixer in the last few days, and we've made your entire recipe! It made 62 rolls for our family of 11 to enjoy for just over a week. We eat the rolls with green smoothies every morning for breakfast! And my mom and sister are now making the recipe, too! =) Thank you. DELICIOUS.

  19. I just made your recipe and I am super excited to see if mine turns out as great as yours! But a couple of questionsYou did not add gluten or a dough enhancer … do you find you don't need this? Have you ever added it?Does 20 -25 min really cook your bread? I was much closer to 35 min. Also I only added 1 cup flax and I used more than 16 cups of flour … is that because I only added 1 cup flax? Thanks for this recipe! I made it this afternoon and we had the rolls at dinner and my family LOVED them!

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