Preparation: Ingredients and Supplies
- 2 1/4 cups wheat or 4 cups of wheat flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 cups honey
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups water
- 4 tablespoons instant dry yeast
- 10 cups bread flour
- Bread mixer - makes cooking and baking much easier!
- 5 or 6 bread pans
Yield: 5 - 6 loaves
Step 1: Grind the wheat (optional)
I prefer to grind my wheat right before mixing the ingredients. I've heard that you get the most nutrition out of wheat if freshly ground, so that would be one benefit. The other benefit of using wheat is it rotates your wheat storage. Most people don't store wheat, and those that do store it don't use it. They buy and store it as their "food storage", but cannot convert that magical grain into something useful. Many people I know turn their nose at the thought of eating whole wheat bread, but this recipe meets everyone in the middle by supplying whole wheat goodness and soft chewy "white flour"-ness.
I run my wheat through the wheat grinder twice. The first time does most of the work and the 2nd time grinds it a little finer.
Step 2: Milk and Honey Mix
Combine the milk, honey, salt, sugar, and oil in a glass bowl. Microwave the mixture for 3 minutes. After microwaving, mix the ingredients well. This mixture should be warm, but not hot before combining it with the other ingredients to avoid overheating (and killing) the yeast.
The mix before heating and stirring, and the mix afterwards.
Step 3: Water and Yeast Mix
Pour the water and yeast in the mixing bowl. The water should be lukewarm.
Step 4: Combine Liquids
Pour the milk and honey mixture into the mixing bowl that already has the water and yeast. Be sure that the milk and honey mixture isn't hot. You don't want to destroy the efficacy of the yeast.
Step 5: Add Wheat
Add the freshly-ground or previously-ground wheat and start your mixer.
Step 6: Add Bread Flour
Add the bread flour one cup at a time. I've seen advice in various cookbooks suggest that you should only slowly add the flour. I haven't found this necessary. Add the flour slowly enough that you don't create a cloud of flour, but don't be too timid. The mixer will do the hard work.
Step 7: Mix and Knead
Mix for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. At this point the dough is sticky because it has a lot of honey in it. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, consider adding a little more flour. Due to humidity, location, and ingredients, you may have to make some minor adjustments like adding a little flour or a little water.
Below is a video of a kneading technique for shaping your dough.
Step 8: Let Rise Once (Optional)
Because the mixer did the hard work for you, it is not necessary to raise the dough before putting it in pans. So if you are in a hurry, skip this step.
The benefit to letting the dough raise is you get a more consistent bread. The "holes" in the bread will be more even which will make your bread look more professional. Skipping this step can cause an uneven size in "holes" and cause your butter or jam to seep through your sliced bread (which may or may not be a problem).
Step 9: Place in Bread Pans
Separate the dough into 5 - 6 portions, depending on how many loaves you want. Cut the dough with a knife or dough cutter. Place some flour on the counter and shape each loaf by pulling the dough from one side on the top of the center and pushing down. Rotate the dough 90 degrees clockwise and repeat. This gives the dough a nice smooth, round shape. Place the dough in a bread pan that has been coated wtih cooking spray.
Cover all of the pans with a towel and allow them to rise until they are roughly double in size.
Step 10: Bake and Cool
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. I bake only 3 loaves at a time to avoid overcrowding the oven. If you try to bake 5 or 6 loaves at a time, you might need to increase your bake time by 5 minutes or so.
After baking, remove the loaves from the pans and place on cooling racks. Even though it smells good and you fell like you can't wait to slice into the bread, avoid the temptation. Believe it or not, the bread is still baking while on the cooling racks. If you slice open the bread, the steam will escape and the post-baking will come to a halt. Give it at least 10 minutes to cool and then slice into your bread. It will still be warm, soft, and delicious in 10 minutes.