Homemade bread

I think a lot of people are afraid to attempt homemade bread.
Do not be afraid, its not really that hard
and it tastes so amazing!
Now my family does not eat enriched flour or white flour
so for this recipe I use white whole wheat flour.
My favorite brand is King Arthur, I don’t know what
makes theirs different but I find it rises consistently better
than the few other brands I have access to here in the middle of nowhere.
This recipe took me a few months to perfect,
so you are very welcome for saving you the time!
It works fantastically in a bread machine but can be done easily by hand.
The rise times will vary and you should pay more attention to
the size of your dough than the times I list here
as out door temps, humidity, the age of your yeast
and the color of the sunset and style of your underpants can all affect this.
(yes…I am joking about the last few)
Here is what you need:
1 1/4 cup water (80-100 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp active yeast (or 1 packet instant yeast)
pinch of sugar
2 TBS coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 C pure maple syrup or raw honey
3 1/2 C 100%white whole wheat flour
1/4 C flax seeds (optional)
1 TBS vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
The first step is to put on your cutest apron:
Now you need to activate your yeast.
Turn your water on and warm it up to around 90 degrees
if its too cold your yeast won’t activate and if its too hot you
will kill it and either of these will lead to your dough not rising and dense
cardboard like loaves.  No thank you!
Gently stir the yeast into the warm water until it dissolves
and then let it sit until it starts growing.
I try to avoid adding the sugar if possible but if after a few minutes
you do not see a thick foam starting to form
on the top of the mixture than
add a pinch of sugar and gently stir it in,
this ‘feeds’ the yeast and can help it activate faster.
Here is what the top should look like if its working:
Whatever you do, DON’T continue until your yeast is working!
I do this step first because its easy to discard the yeast and water and start over.
Do not be afraid to do that. Better to waste a little yeast
than ruin your bread!
Now is where the instructions separate.
If you have a bread machine:
Pour the water and yeast mix in the loaf pan,
then add the oil of choice and syrup or honey.
Next add the dry ingredients in the order they are listed.
My machine has settings for Wheat or White bread,
make sure you choose wheat as it usually has a time to preheat the
machine allowing the yeast more time to grow
which helps give the extra rise that the denser heavier wheat flour requires.
So on my Breville I select Wheat bread (regular not rapid)
1.5 lb loaf and light crust.
Turn it on and walk away and in 3.5 hours you will have delicious bread!
If you do not have a bread machine:
buy a bread machine.
Haha!! I’m just kidding (sort of)
You can certainly make this by hand but after about 6 months of
trying to knead bread dough with carpal tunnel I thought
my bread machine was truly a gift from God and
not just from my wonderful husband
In a big bowl,combine all of the dry ingredients and 
In another large bowl or stand mixer add the oil and honey or syrup into the yeast mixture.
Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ones mixing well as you go,
stir until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. 
This takes ALOT of elbow grease to incorporate all the flour so add it slowly while you stir
or rely on the power of the mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the bowl.
Turn your oven on to
preheat to 200 degrees
Once it reaches 200 degrees turn it off,
you will use the leftover built up heat
to help your dough rise.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also use your electric mixer for this step) 
At this point the dough should be soft, but still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary. 
The more you make this bread the better you will be at 
judging the perfect consistency at this point.
Now, transfer the dough to a lightly greased glass bowl, cover it with either a clean cloth or greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
I find that where I live I get a much more efficient rise if I place my bowl in my warmed up oven for this time. However if you live in a warmer climate or are making this in the summer the 
preheated oven may not be necessary for you.
After the rise time your dough should be large and airy,
Place your dough on a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. 
Transfer the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for another 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. This can be done either on the counter
or again in a slightly warmed oven 
(do not leave the oven on while it is rising or 
it will start to slowly bake, 
just use the leftover heat from a low preheat as above)
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, 
tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent a crusty edge.
The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center. 
Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Cool completely before slicing and store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
I promise it sounds way harder than it is and the more you do it
the easier it gets! 
Good Luck.
~eat well, be well










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