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…
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.
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.
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….
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.