I’ve been on a bit of a health kick this past year. After reading Wheat Belly (affiliate link) we tried cutting out all wheat from our diet. What I found was that even though we were eating gluten free, we were eating a ton more processed foods. I didn’t like the effects.
Because we didn’t actually need to be gluten free, I decided that we would try a healthier approach to eating instead. This started with doing a lot more cooking. I do more meal planning, and more preparation of our foods, including our bread. Our rule is that if we can’t pronounce it on the label, we don’t need it in our bodies. Of course, there are exceptions – we have kids, and they still love things that kids like – we just try to make as much of it from scratch if we can.
For a late Christmas gift, my hubby and I are buying each other a wheat grinder. We have also located what I call heirloom wheat. This is the original wheat – the amber waves of grain, if you will – of our ancestors. We are very excited to start grinding our own wheat and making our own breads and pastas.
I’ve spent the past year trying to find a perfect bread recipe for us. My kids love the taste of Amish White Bread, but the recipe that I was using wouldn’t stay fresh long enough. Some of the other breads I tried would start to get dry and crumble the day after cooking. Some had a great taste but the texture was all wrong for my kids. We did find a great recipe for English Muffin Bread, and it is still my favorite in the mornings, but it didn’t make great sandwiches for the boys.
Finally, after 7-8 bread recipes, I found THE one HERE! Thank you, Delia, for changing our lives!
Unlike most breads I’ve made, this one added the salt before adding the yeast. That was new to me. It also did a few other things that I had learned was a “no-no” when it comes to bread making. All I know is that it works if you follow the recipe, and it is perfect every time!
1. First thing I added was 1/3 cup oil. Using the same measuring cup, I added 1/3 cup honey. The oil coated cup keeps the honey from sticking. Finally, I put in 1 TBSP salt and whisked that all together with a fork or little hand whisk.
3. Then I mixed in 3/4 Cup flour with a little whisk. Finally, I whisked in 1 1/2 TBSP yeast (I use rapid rise yeast).
5. After the 7 cups of flour is added (that doesn’t include the first 3/4 cups you added with the yeast), turn your mixer on with a dough hook attachment and let it knead the dough for at least 5 minutes. If doing it by hand, you will need a good 7+ minutes.
When it is finished, the dough should turn away from the bowl like this. Actually, my dough in this picture is just a tiny bit too sticky. You want it to be soft, but not sticky. In this case, I added a little more flour than necessary to my bench before I kneaded it by hand.
7. Now it is time to add a few tsp of vegetable oil to your bowl (I use the same bowl I mixed it in. No need to dirty another bowl!), put the dough in face down, and then flip it over. Time for the first proof!
You don’t have to do this next part (I don’t), but it is a good trick to show how you know when your dough is double in size. It is an estimate, but a good lesson for beginners. Put plastic wrap over the bowl and looking down at the dough, draw a line with a marker around the dough. I had to close one eye to do it. 😉 You can barely see the green line drawn on the plastic wrap.
8. At this point, turn your oven on to preheat for just a minute or less. You just want it to get a little warm, but not over 110ºF. Put your dough in the oven to proof for 30-40 minutes.
9. I lightly spray my counters with cooking spray, as well as 2 large loaf pans and turned the dough out onto the counter. You can also make 3 smaller loaves if you wish. Then I divide my dough into 2 (or 3) equal pieces using a bench scrape.
10. Using your hands, or a greased rolling pin, roll one piece out to the width of your pans, and as long as your counter. Use your pan for reference. Don’t make it wider than your pan. The length doesn’t really matter – just aim for…maybe double the width of the pans, I would say.
Now it is time to roll the dough up. The point of rolling it out is to get rid of air bubbles. When rolling it up, stretch it a bit as you roll to make the roll tight. This helps to eliminate air pockets.
13. Place the dough in a 175ºF oven for 30-40 minutes for a second proofing. You want to see the sides of the dough over the pans by an inch or more. Mine usually takes 40 minutes. I’ve never made it in the summer, and that may effect it, who knows. After the second proof, take the bread out and preheat the oven to 350ºF.
14. Finally bake the bread for 30 minutes in a 350ºF oven. I like to take a big piece of aluminum foil and gently place it across the two loaves when there are 10 minutes left. This keeps the tops from getting too brown. The bread should sound hollow when you tap on it.
When it comes out of the oven, brush butter over the top. Turn it out onto a cooling rack and try to let it cool for 10 minutes before you cut it. I think we have only made it to 10 minutes twice. Most of the time, the first piece falls within 2 minutes. If you love bread like our family, you’ll eat the first loaf within a few hours, and the second loaf will be for the next few days.
There is nothing like fresh homemade bread! This recipe is the best I’ve found, and I’ve tried a lot!
For a printable copy of Delila’s bread, click HERE!
Let me know if you have success or questions. Do you have a favorite bread recipe?
Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you how we turned this bread into rainbow bread for the kids!