We go through bread at my house like nobody's business. Blame it on all the sandwiches (I do love me a good sandwich and it appears to run in the family). We buzz through the bread like beavers do trees. So when I was buying 3 loaves every 10 days for the four of us, I realized that it was time to bake my own. I mean, it's not like the bread's going to go bad. We eat enough of it.
Lucky for me, I understand the general principles of bread baking. Yeast, food for the yeast, flour, some other stuff, rise, knead, rise, bake, cool. Not that tough, right? I'm no stranger to bread baking after all.
I grew up baking bread with my grandparents. Once a month they would spend the morning making up a huge batch of dough and then spend the rest of the day making loaves, buns, and a ton of other forms of bread related goodness. I have great memories of that time.
So why have I not done this sooner!?!
It seemed like a ton of work and time that I didn't think that I had to spare. Plus, I wasn't the one putting the yeast and food for the yeast and other such ingredients together when baking with my grandparents. What if I baked a hideous beast of a loaf? What if my family was so disgusted by this carbohydrated disaster that they refused to eat anything I cooked again!?! Oh, the humanity!!
Then I realized two things:
1) Basic bread is not that hard to make.
2) Who cares if the loaf is gross? I'll just tweak the recipe (or my methods depending on the problem) and try again. My family is forgiving and forgetful. They will eat my food again.
Perfectionism. It's an evil, motherless beast.
Don't listen because it's not true.
Anyhow, so all of this to tell you that I'm going to share my recipe for super easy wheat bread with you today.
It has proven itself worthy of sharing with the masses--at least I haven't had any disasters with it yet. :)
I acquired this recipe from AllRecipes.com and used all but one of the tips from the comments section.
And this is what I have created using it:
Beautiful, delicious loaves of bread
And now for your baking pleasure, here is the easiest freaking wheat bread recipe of all time. I have added some tips that I learned along the way to hopefully help you out a little bit in your baking adventures. If you go to the original recipe, you'll see that I've incorporated a lot from the comments section and of course added my own flare to the text. A girl's got to get creative where she can, you know? :) Here you go!
Easy Wheat Bread
Adapted from AllRecipes.comIngredients:
- 3 cups warm water (no warmer than 110 degrees F)
- 2 (1/4 oz) packets active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup honey
- 5 cups white bread flour
- 3 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 3 1/2 - 5 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- Combine warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey in the bowl of your electric mixer. I usually heat up the water in the microwave 1 cup at a time and use an electric thermometer to test the temperature. That seems to give me a little bit more control. If my last cup of water is a little too hot (which happens most of the time) then I dump the honey into the water. This cools the water and makes the honey thinner and easier to get out of the measuring cup. Add 5 cups bread flour and stir with wooden/plastic spoon to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes or at least until it has doubled in size and is big and bubbly.
- Using your mixing spoon, make a hole in the middle of the big bubbly dough concoction. This will make room for the 3 Tbsp butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt that you are going to mix in next. Add the ingredients, attach the dough hook to your mixer, and mix away at speed 2. When the new ingredients are combined, stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. To minimize the flour cloud, I usually do this 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until not really sticky--just pulling away from the sides of the bowl but still sticky to the touch. This may take an additional 2-4 cups of whole wheat flour to accomplish. It usually only takes me 2 cups to get there, but one time it took almost 3. It just depends on the flour you are using.
- Once the dough ball has formed, leave the mixer going on speed 2 and all it to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until it is smooth. Dust your counter with a little bit of whole wheat flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead by hand for an additional 1-2 minutes. I suppose this step could be optional, but I think the texture of the bread is better when you include this step.
- Grease a gigantic bowl. Make sure to grease the whole bowl and all the way up the sides. Shape your dough into a ball and place in the greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a greased cotton towel and let rise in a slightly-warmer-than-room-temperature place until it has doubled in size. This takes approximately 2 hours. Covering and greasing the dough keeps the crusties off of your dough while it's rising--totally worth it. And if you don't have a naturally occurring slightly-warmer-than-room-temperature place in your house, just turn on the light in your oven because it omits just enough heat to make it the perfect temperature.
- Punch down dough and divide into 2 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch pans (or 4 mini loaf pans, or whatever you are using) and allow to rise until the dough has topped the pans by 1 inch.
- Bake in an oven that was preheated to 350 degrees (F) for 23-30 minutes. Do not over bake. The bread is done when you knock on it and it sounds hollow and/or a thermometer that is inserted in the middle reads 180-200 degrees (F). I just use the knocking method. Works every time.
- When done, remove the loaves from the pans immediately to prevent the bottoms from getting moldy and cool on a wire rack. Brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter to prevent the crust from getting hard. Cool completely before storing.
Even though it rose too high, it turned out just as delicious so don't worry if yours rises too long, too.
To store the bread, I wrap it in plastic wrap and then put it in a plastic sealable bag (or 2 if the loaf is too big to fit in 1 bag). The longest that the loaves have lasted is 10 days at my house, but in that time ours have never gotten moldy. I've frozen a loaf, thawed it out, and we've eaten on it for a week with no mold in sight. Test it out. Let me know if yours molds on you and in what conditions and I'll do the same.
WARNING: You're going to start looking for all sorts of ways to eat this bread. It's that good.
Also, this bread makes picture perfect grilled cheese sandwiches. See?