When he has time, my dad makes bread from scratch – he grinds the wheat in a mill, makes a sponge out of yeast, water, and sugar, and so on. We all love our dad’s bread way better than any store bought bread. When he makes it, he makes 6 loaves but we still eat it all in a week. It’s good with almost anything on it, peanut butter, Nutella, jelly, etc. but I like it best with a ton of butter on it.
The secret to making soft smooshy bread apparently is to make a sponge, not putting too much flour in your dough (keep it quite sticky up to the last rise in bread pans), and adding some white flour.
These days, we are trying to save money by eating very simply and homemade bread fits right in with that plan. Four of our suppers are pretty darn inexpensive. We have a “potato night”, for instance tonight was potato night and we had loaded baked potatoes. That included broccoli, cheese, chili, butter, and sour cream on our baked potatoes. Then we have “cereal night”. Last week we had cream of wheat and maybe we had a little bit of ham with it. Next is “bean night” – that was Monday and we had baked beans made from dried beans which are very inexpensive. Lastly, we have “egg night” from our nice chickens :) We make lots of scrambled eggs and with any luck, our dad has made some wheat bread and we have a thick slice of it to go with our eggs.
Anyway, here’s our dad’s whole wheat bread recipe in case the millions on the internet are not enough for you.
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD RECIPE:
Grind up 4 cups of wheat berries, this will result in about 5 to 6 cups of whole wheat flour. All of this will go into the bread and the remainder of the flour will be white flour.
Make a sponge by combining 2 heaping tablespoons of sugar, 5 tablespoons of yeast and a cup of warm water. The water can be very warm, but not so hot that you cannot hold your finger in it; if it is too hot it will kill the yeast. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes until it has risen to form a sponge. While the sponge is rising prepare the following.
Combine a half a cup of quick oats (old fashioned oats will work as well) and 4 cups of warm water (again, warm, not hot).
Combine a half cup of olive oil and a half cup of honey.
Once the sponge has risen mix in the oat and water mixture and the oil and honey. Continue to mix as you add the wheat flour one half cup at a time. Once you have added 6 cups of wheat flour, add 2 tablespoons of salt. At this point the mixture should still be loose, not a stiff dough. You want to mix the salt in after some flour is mixed in so that the salt will not kill the yeast.
Continue adding all the wheat flour and then add white flour until you have a stiff, but still sticky dough. This usually takes about 5 cups, but may be more or less, each batch is a little different. Don’t let the dough become too hard and stiff,
Knead the dough for 5 minutes (we use a Bosch machine). The dough will be sticky. If needing by hand you will need to flour your surface and add more flour occasionally.
Once kneading is complete, put dough in a very large greased bowl and set the dough aside to rise until it has doubled in volume (about 30 minutes to an hour).
Turn the dough out to a flat surface and cut into 5-6 sections. Shape each section into a loaf and put into greased loaf pans. Each loaf should fill the pan no more than half full to prevent the loaf rising too far out of the pan. Grease the pans generously to prevent the bread from sticking as it bakes.
Let the loaves rise again. This will be shorter than the first rising, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350 for 24 minutes. The loaves should be a nice dark brown on top.
Leave bread in pans for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from loaf pans and let cool on a wire rack.