Believe it or not, Monday morning is my favorite time of the week! I love getting things in place for the week ahead.
This Monday was the first of the month, which means it was doubly blessed. And as I looked ahead to keeping my family fed (six children and a hungry husband) with the fall school sport schedule upon us, I saw an ever growing need… for bread!
I choose to bake bread for my family once a week with a goal of buying no processed bread. If you have never baked bread before this may seem a little daunting to begin, but once you get in the routine the rewards are wonderful. Homemade bread tastes infinitely better, is much healthier (especially with whole grains) and is soothing to the soul.
LET’S GET STARTED!
It’s first thing in the morning and you just rolled out of bed and started the coffee maker.
In a large bowl combine one cup of tap warm/hot water and 4 tbsp of yeast.
(Buying yeast in bulk is much cheaper. Keep a pint jar in the refrigerator and leave the rest in the freezer till you need it.)
Sprinkle 2 tbsp of sugar over the yeast/water. No need to stir.
Run take your shower.
When you come back the mixture should look bubbly.
Now, throw in one stick of butter, a 1/4 cup of sugar, 6 cups of warm water and 5 tsp of salt. Stir. Grab the bag of bulk whole wheat out of the freezer and pour in about 5-6 cups. Stir. Mix in enough all purpose flour to become stiff to stir-about 3 cups.
(Again, buy flour in bulk. I get mine at local bulk food stores and keep it in a sealed 5 gallon bucket in a cool cabinet.)
When the dough becomes stiff to stir, spread about 5 cups of all purpose flour on a clean, dry counter. Pour the dough on top and begin folding, pushing and kneading the bread by hand. Add flour until the dough is not sticking to your hands or the counter but as little as possible towards that end. Maybe 4-5 more cups . If you use too much flour your bread will be tough and dry. Less flour will be light and fluffy. Knead about 8 minutes. I spend the kneading time thinking through my day, praying or memorizing scripture.
Put the dough in a large lightly greased pan and cover with plastic wrap. Place on a warm counter away from draft. Dough will rise 2-3 times its size. Walk away and get ready for your day. Drink your coffee, read the word, newspaper, get the kids up, whatever you need to do.
About an hour or two later come back and shape bread into loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
BONUS DOUGH USES: I set aside a few balls about the size of softballs for pizza later in the week. I put these in quart bags and freeze. On pizza day, pull them out to thaw, spread on pans and make as desired. You can also use the extra dough to make homemade rolls. I use this recipe to make 6 loaves of bread, a pan of rolls and 3 pizza’s for the week.
Back to our bread!
Set the bread pans on the counter and cover with the plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise for 15 minutes.
While you wait, make breakfast for the family or spend the time finishing another chore. Put the bread in the oven (No need to preheat) I bake 6 loaves at a time in a regular oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned and hollow sounding when tapped with your finger.
Allow to cool while you finish getting ready for the day. Put in bags and freeze or leave out for the next day or two. Homemade bread will not stay as fresh as store bought breads if not frozen due to lack of preservatives.
No matter what, you now have homemade, preservative free whole wheat bread for an entire week or more!
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD MEAL TIPS:
Think of bread-based meal variations beyond the normal PB&J or meat and cheese sandwich.
Garden sandwich = mayo, salt and one vegetable out the garden (tomato, cucumber, lettuce, shredded carrot, onion pepper, etc)
Chicken, egg or tuna salad sandwiches
Egg sandwiches – fried, scrambled, creamed
Gravy bread, pizza, grilled cheese, homemade rolls and soup… the options are endless!
Maria is a busy wife, mother of six and full-time home school teacher in the Shenandoah Valley.
If you have a question for Maria or if there is a recipe you would like her to share, leave your comment in the Facebook comment section below.