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There are few things more satisfying than being able to start with a bucket of grain and turn it into loaves of bread. Nothing tastes quite like a thick slice of freshly baked bread spread with butter. And considering the wonderful health benefits of whole grains, what could be better?

But when people think of making their own bread, they tend to think of laborious hours of mixing, kneading, rising, punching down, rising again, and finally baking with only one or two loaves of bread to show for all their work.

I'm here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Bread making can be so much easier than you may think. You can make enough bread for your family to last you an entire week in 40 minutes of "hands on" time and only 2 hours from start to finish.

Whether you are entirely new to baking, interested in feeding your family more wholesome foods, or wanting to try bread making just for the fun of it, this recipe is for you. I’ll take you through the steps of making perfect bread every time, the equipment and ingredients you’ll need, and other tips I’ve learned along the way.

I am excited to share with you all that I have learned about bread along the way. I started baking bread when I was 8 years old. My first income came from baking and selling bread to our next door neighbors. My mom taught me how to bake and I eventually learned how to make it all by myself. I love homemade bread. I love the process of making it. I love being able feed my family healthy food. But most of all, I love how easy it is to make and how bread making can truly fit into the busiest of lifestyles.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Why Make Your Own Bread?

I first want to cover the benefits of making your own bread. Why do it in the first place and why is it so good for you?

Here is a quick overview about the source of where flour comes from: in its original form, flour starts as tiny grains of wheat. There are three parts to a whole grain of wheat: the bran, which forms the tough outer covering, the endosperm, which is the next and largest portion of the grain, and the wheat germ, which is the grain's innermost core. These three contribute to the nutrients of the whole kernel of grain. The bran, which is the tough outer covering, is composed of many layers which contain large quantities of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The endosperm is mostly just starch, and it contains very few vitamins. But the wheat germ, the grain's innermost core, is one of the richest natural sources of B and E vitamins. It's the life­ giving part of the grain.

What about store-bought bread and bread made from white flour? How does this differ? When white flour is made and used in traditional store-bought breads, both the bran and the wheat germ are removed from the grain through a process known as refinement. According to noted author and nutritionist Dr. Don Colbert, approximately 80% of wheat's nutrients are lost when its bran and wheat germ are removed. When the grain is stripped of its bran and germ, all that remains is the endosperm, or its starchy, inner portion, which is then ground into fine powder. That powder is called flour and is what's used for making white bread. White flour is white because it's bleached with potentially harmful chemicals to make it look more appealing. Even more chemicals (called preservatives) are added to the bread to prevent it from molding and spoiling. According to grain expert Julie Roose, nearly 60 chemicals may be present in a single loaf of white bread without being declared on the label. That's pretty shocking, isn't it? Many times, you'll see on bread labels the word “enriched.” What does that mean? Well, after flour is refined to make white bread, it loses about 30 nutrients. But by law, only four of those nutrients must be added back to the flour: some vitamins, minerals, and a little fiber. The tiny amount of nutrients put back into the bread does not even compare to the huge quantity of nutrients that it had to start out with as whole grains.

As its name implies, whole grain bread is made with the whole grain, or the three parts I told you about earlier: the bran, the endosperm, and the wheat germ. This is why the most nutritious type of bread that you can possibly eat is homemade bread made from freshly ground whole grains. As an added benefit, when baking freshly ground whole grain bread yourself, YOU can choose the nutritious additional ingredients, such as raw honey instead of sugar or corn syrup and the healthiest of oils instead of hydrogenated or trans fats.

These supremely healthy benefits from bread can be yours by milling your own flour and making your own delicious and nutritious bread from freshly ground, whole grains.

Step 2: The Equipment You'll Need

Next we’ll talk about the equipment you need to start. It is important to invest in high quality, durable equipment that will last.

GRINDER. One of the most important things to consider when making bread is a way to grind your grain. It’s not as complicated as you might think. You will want to start by researching different grain mills. I personally own a GrainMasterWhisperMill Electric Grain Mill from Pleasant Hill Grain. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/ I have owned and used it for over 10 years and it has given me no problems whatsoever. You simply turn on the motor, pour in your grain, wait for it to grind into flour, and you’re ready to start baking!

MIXER. You may consider investing in a heavy duty mixer. This is not a necessity. However, if you plan on making bread long-term, it will be a valuable and much-used piece of equipment. I use a Bosch mixer. Not only does it mix all the ingredients together and help you determine how much flour to add, but it also kneads the dough, sparing you much time and manual labor!

PANS. You will need 6 bread pans to bake your bread in. I highly recommend 4 1/2" x 8 1/2” (2 1/2" deep) stainless steel bread pans. These are expensive, yet the upfront investment will pay off over time. I have used mine over and over again on a weekly basis. They are durable and will last for years. They are designed so that 6 will fit comfortably in a standard size oven. After using these pans for whole wheat bread, there is no need to wash them. Simply wipe off any excess oil and store until next time you need them.

MISCELLANEOUS EQUIPMENT. You probably already have the basic baking equipment in your kitchen. You will need measuring spoons and cups, liquid measurement tools, a large bowl if you don’t own a mixer, cooking spray, and wire racks for cooling your loaves of bread on.

Step 3: The Ingredients

The ingredients you’ll need for making your own bread can easily be found at your local health food store and grocery store.

GRAIN. First you will first want to research and find a good grain (wheat berries) source. I get my in 50 lb bags through Country Life Natural Foods. http://www.clnf.org/ You can choose from hard red, prairie gold, soft red, or soft white wheat berries. I prefer using prairie gold wheat because it produces a lighter bread in both color and texture. I would recommend starting with this type because it is closest to white bread in taste and texture. I store my grain in large, 5 gallon pails with gamma seal lids, which can also be purchased through Country Life Natural Foods.

*As a side note, if you prefer to not invest in a grinder, you can purchase pre-ground whole grain flour. While it doesn’t offer the same nutritional benefits as freshly ground flour, it is still healthier than using white flour.

WATER. You must start with very warm water to promote the rising and activity of the yeast. Make sure your water is not too hot (scalding to the touch) because it could kill the yeast and you will be left with very flat bread.

OIL adds moisture and tenderness to the bread. I use olive oil. You can use the extra virgin kind, but it will give your bread a slight olive flavor, which some people don’t like. You can use almost any type of oil in your bread.

HONEY adds a touch of sweetness and aids the yeast in rising the bread. I purchase mine in gallon buckets from Country Life Natural Foods. Any kind of honey, from light to dark, may be used. You can also experiment with different sweeteners, such as sugar, evaporated cane juice crystals, maple syrup, agave, or even molasses. Substitute sweeteners using a 1:1 ratio.

YEAST obviously rises the bread. I use Fleishmann’s instant dry yeast, which is also known as "bread machine yeast." This yeast is milled into finer particles and it does not need to be dissolved in water like active dry yeast does so you can add it along with the dry ingredients. It also does not require a second rise, which saves a lot of time and extra work for you.

SALT is one of those mandatory ingredients in bread. It brings out the flavor of the grains and honey, adding depths of taste to the finished product. You may use sea salt or just plain ‘ol salt from the grocery store!

VITAMIN C POWDER, also known as ascorbic acid, can easily be found at your local health food store. Technically, it is an option ingredient, but it does contribute the the texture of your bread. Vitamin C powder acts as a dough enhancer, giving loaves their beautiful rounded shape and even rise during baking.

GLUTEN, also called gluten flour, can also be found at your health food store. The reason I add gluten is for improvement in texture and shape. It contributes to the elasticity and rise of the raw dough and the crumb, chewiness, and tender texture in the final loaves.

Step 4: Grind, Mix, Knead, Shape, Rise, Bake (with Bosch)

Okay, so you have your equipment and your ingredients. It’s time to start baking! I am including two methods for making your whole grain bread. The first is for making bread if you own a Bosch mixer. The second is for those of you who do not have one.

Ingredients:

6 1/2 cups warm water

1 cup oil

¾ cup honey

10 cups freshly milled wheat flour

4 T instant yeast

2 T salt

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid)

2 heaping tablespoons gluten an additional

6-8 cups freshly milled wheat flour

GRIND: Turn on your grinder, fill the hopper with grain, and wait for it to grind into flour.

MIX: Meanwhile, put the water, honey, and oil in a your Bosch bowl. I use a 1-cup measuring cup to measure and pour the oil, then fill it 3/4 full with honey and add it that way. The oily surface causes the honey to pour right out without leaving you with a sticky mess! Next dump in a full hopper of flour (about 9-10 cups). Mix on speed 1 for 15 seconds or until combined. Measure and add on top of that your yeast, salt, gluten, and vitamin C powder. Grind an additional hopper of flour. With your Bosch bowl on speed 1, add ONLY enough whole wheat flour until the dough cleans the sides of the Bosch bowl. When you hear the motor turn to a low, laboring sound as you add flour, turn it to speed 2.

KNEAD: After you are finished adding flour to the dough, knead it in the Bosch for three minutes on speed 2. Turn off machine. Grease counter and your hands with oil.

SHAPING THE DOUGH: This is the step where both methods converge. Take your dough and cut it into six equal pieces. I sometimes use a scale for precision, but you can eyeball this part if you wish. For each loaf of bread, you will need to slam it on the counter for two reasons (1) to let out any air bubbles to avoid pockets of air in the finished bread and (2) to obtain a well-shaped loaf to put in your pans. Take a lump of dough in your right hand. Slam it down on the counter so that your hand is horizontal with your fingers pointing to the left. With your left hand, fold the dough back onto your right hand. Slam it down one the counter again. Repeat this motion 7 to 10 times, until the air bubbles are gone and you have a pretty loaf of bread. Notice in the picture how the underside of the loaf is tucked in. Place each loaf in a greased loaf pan. (I know this sounds confusing, but please refer to the pictures and, with practice, I promise you'll get the hang of it.)

RISE AND BAKE: I like to let my bread rise in a warmed oven because it creates a consistent environment for the bread to rise in, regardless of the temperature of your kitchen. You don’t need to worry or speculate on rising time. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Slide the bread pans in and turn the oven OFF (don’t worry about escaping heat as you open the oven - that’s a good thing). Set your timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, your bread should be doubled or at least risen to one inch about the rim of the pan. Do not open the oven door or take the bread out. Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees and set your timer for 30 more minutes. After 30 minutes, open the door and check the bread. The tops should be a golden, crusty brown color. Immediately remove the loaves of bread from the pans to avoid sogginess. Set the bread on a wire rack to cool completely, which takes several hours.

STORING YOUR BREAD: After cooling, store the bread in bags with twist ties for maximum freshness. You can buy bread bags and ties at any health food store or in bulk from online sources. Our you can simply store your loaves in gallon-size ziplock bags. Unless you are having a large crowd of people over, you probably won’t need to use all 6 loaves of bread in one day. Homemade whole grain bread is unique in that it does not contain preservatives of any kind. It will therefore grow mold or go rancid if left out at room temperature for more than 3-4 days, depending on the climate. Refrigerating bread tends to dry it out, so the best way to store bread is by freezing it.

Whole grain bread can be frozen for up to a month. If you will be needing bread, plan one day ahead and take it out of the freezer the night before you plan on using it. This will save you the need to saw off hunks of frozen bread to pop in the toaster!

Step 5: Grind, Mix, Knead, Shape, Rise, Bake (without Bosch)

Here are the instructions for making whole grain bread without Bosch bowl.

Ingredients:

6 1/2 cups warm water

1 cup oil

¾ cup honey

10 cups freshly milled wheat flour

4 T instant yeast

2 T salt

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid)

2 heaping tablespoons gluten an additional

6-8 cups freshly milled wheat flour

GRIND: Turn on your grinder, fill the hopper with grain, and wait for it to grind into flour.

MIX: Meanwhile, put the water, honey, and oil in a large bowl. I use a 1-cup measuring cup to measure and pour the oil, then fill it 3/4 full with honey and add it that way. The oily surface of the cup causes the honey to pour right out without leaving you with a sticky mess! Next dump in a full hopper of flour (about 9-10 cups). Measure and add on top of that your yeast, salt, gluten, and vitamin C powder. Stir well. Grind an additional hopper of flour. Add flour (about 5 cups), one a cup at a time, until dough is formed and it becomes difficult to stir. Roll the dough into a ball, scraping the edges of the bowl and turn out onto a heavily floured surface. Continue to work in flour (2-3 cups) with your hands until the dough is tacky and still moist, but not sticky. Oil your counter and your hands to begin the kneading process.

KNEAD: This step is simple and straightforward. With well-oiled hands and counter, push both hands into the dough. Give it a quarter turn by folding the dough over in half. Push it forward again. Repeat this movement for 10 - 15 minutes, until the dough lightens and is soft and supple. You will notice a change in the texture of the dough as the gluten is developed and the dough homogenizes. Dough should be tacky and supple and not stick to your hands.

SHAPING THE DOUGH: This is the step where both methods converge. Take your dough and cut it into six equal pieces. I sometimes use a scale for precision, but you can eyeball this part if you wish. For each loaf of bread, you will need to slam it on the counter for two reasons (1) to let out any air bubbles to avoid pockets of air in the finished bread and (2) to obtain a well-shaped loaf to put in your pans. Take a lump of dough in your right hand. Slam it down on the counter so that your hand is horizontal with your fingers pointing to the left. With your left hand, fold the dough back onto your right hand. Slam it down one the counter again. Repeat this motion 7 to 10 times, until the air bubbles are gone and you have a pretty loaf of bread. Notice in the picture how the underside of the loaf is tucked in. Place each loaf in a greased loaf pan. (I know this sounds confusing, but please refer to the pictures and, with practice, I promise you'll get the hang of it.)

RISE AND BAKE: I like to let my bread rise in a warmed oven because it creates a consistent environment for the bread to rise in, regardless of the temperature of your kitchen. You don’t need to worry or speculate on rising time. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Slide the bread pans in and turn the oven OFF (don’t worry about escaping heat as you open the oven - that’s a good thing). Set your timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, your bread should be doubled or at least risen to one inch about the rim of the pan. Do not open the oven door or take the bread out. Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees and set your timer for 30 more minutes. After 30 minutes, open the door and check the bread. The tops should be a golden, crusty brown color. Immediately remove the loaves of bread from the pans to avoid sogginess. Set the bread on a wire rack to cool completely, which takes several hours.

STORING YOUR BREAD: After cooling, store the bread in bags with twist ties for maximum freshness. You can buy bread bags and ties at any health food store or in bulk from online sources. Our you can simply store your loaves in gallon-size ziplock bags. Unless you are having a large crowd of people over, you probably won’t need to use all 6 loaves of bread in one day. Homemade whole grain bread is unique in that it does not contain preservatives of any kind. It will therefore grow mold or go rancid if left out at room temperature for more than 3-4 days, depending on the climate. Refrigerating bread tends to dry it out, so the best way to store bread is by freezing it.

Whole grain bread can be frozen for up to a month. If you will be needing bread, plan one day ahead and take it out of the freezer the night before you plan on using it. This will save you the need to saw off hunks of frozen bread to pop in the toaster!

Step 6: The Extras

Did you know that you can make lots of extra goodies with bread dough, such as cinnamon rolls, pizza crusts, and dinner rolls? Use this dough recipe as your base and feel free to experiment! Here are some of my favorite ways to use my bread dough.

For cinnamon rolls, take a loaf’s worth of dough (1/6 batch) and roll it out into a rectangle approximately 10 by 15 inches. Spread it with 2 Tablespoons softened butter or olive oil. Spread on top of that 1/2 to 2/3 cup brown sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up lengthwise into a log. Cut log into 8-12 pieces, depending on how large you want your rolls to be. Place them in a greased baking dish (I use pie pans). Let rise in warmed until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown. Immediately remove to a wire rack. You can top these with an icing by stirring together 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1-2 Tablespoons milk. Drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls and serve.

For pizza, take a loaf’s worth of dough (1/6 batch) and roll it into a circle that fits your pizza pan. Grease your pan and cover it with cornmeal. Lay dough on top of pan. There is no need to let it rise. Bake it at 475 degrees for 5 minutes. You can freeze it at this point or spread it with oil and top with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings. Bake for about 12 - 15 more minutes, until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

For dinner rolls, roll into a circle about 15” in diameter. Cut like a pizza into 12 sections. Take each section and roll it up, placing each roll about 1” apart in a greased baking dish. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes in a warmed oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter after they come out of the oven and serve warm.

<p>It is a very quick and easy recipe, it came out excellent. I made it, but initially I thought that the temperature mentioned is in degree celsius and did the preheat at 200 degree celsius, then reading the extras, I realised it is in fahrenheit. But due to that my bread was smelling little bit yeasty. But overall all very nice.</p>
<p>That is great! I'm so glad it turned out for you. Thanks for your comment and feedback </p>
<p>And by the way, I did not have any of the tools you have mentioned, just a food processor for kneading dough.</p>
<p>Great Instructable! I've tried these recipes and they taste great! </p>
Awesome!
<p>Nice tutorial</p>

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