Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to bake some homemade bread this week. If you’re already well-versed in the art of bread baking, it’s time to consider grinding your own flour.
I’ve felt a little bogged down by all this conflicting, sometimes depressing research on soaking grains. It’s time for a happy week – so let’s make some bread!
Childhood memories can come rushing back with just a whiff of a familiar smell. When we toast my mom’s homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread, I can immediately sense the wintertime sun sparkling into her kitchen, loaves in bags all tied up with Christmas ribbon for our teachers, who would look forward to having one of us in their classroom just for that bread.
I never thought I’d be one to make my own bread regularly. I’m sure that sometime in the past year, I claimed, “See, I don’t make my own bread. I’ll never make everything from scratch.” I had good reasons for that.
I made whole wheat bread once. Rock.
I made an all-white flour braided bread once. Dense as a dumpling.
When I knead dough, I get all sticky and flour everywhere and frustrated (in no particular order). I imagined myself making bread on a regular basis and thought it would probably be so bad for my family that it might be sinful to even try. Crabby mommies aren’t any fun!
Now I very regularly make homemade whole wheat sourdough, surprising me most of all. It only took a few doorstops and straight-to-crouton loaves, and I figured it out! Next week I’ll tell you everything I know about sourdough starters and bread baking the following week, but for now, let’s warm up to the idea of homemade bread. If I can do it, believe me, you can too!
If you have a bread machine, Bosch or KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook, you’ll be surprised at how easy making your own bread can be. There are also now such easy yeast bread recipes that you don’t even need fancy equipment. (I’ll review Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day this week, hopefully with a soaked alternative.)
If you have a favorite homemade yeast bread recipe, it can be modified for soaking easily. Find a short tutorial here.
If you don’t have a favorite recipe, here are a few options:
- Lindsay’s Soaked Whole Wheat Bread
- Phoebe’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread
- Money Saving Mom’s Whole Wheat Bread (no gluten or dough enhancer)
- Two “best ever” recipes from a reader:
Sandra’s Bread(Link no longer available)
- Want something easier? The breadmaker rolls we love around here from The Happy Housewife.
- Note: I haven’t tried any of the breads, but they’re in my “to try” folder here on the computer. Someday!
- Vital Wheat Gluten is often called for in whole wheat bread recipes. You should be able to find it under that name near the flours in your local grocery store. It will help the rise and fluffiness a lot.
UPDATE: I almost forgot a great bread baking resource! Urban Homemaker has a free eBook called Steps to the Best Bread, which includes ways to soak the grains. Marilyn Moll, the boss lady over there, is truly a master of bread. UH also sells products to help you bake your best, and I’m super excited that she’s working with KS to share one of them with you guys next week when we tackle sourdough! (No, it’s not a grain mill. Maybe someday I’ll be that cool!)
Why Make Homemade Bread?
- Great taste.
- Total ingredient control.
- Saves money.
- House smells great.
- Butter delivery to your mouth.
I want to try the recipes in my ‘to try’ folder too! Sometime in the fall I’ll run a series called “Seeking the Perfect Homemade Whole Wheat Bread” and try one per week, giving points for nutrition, soaked/not, sandwich quality, toastables, fluffiness, kid-appeal, and more.
What Kind of Flour to Buy
You can bake bread from any flour with gluten, but wheat is the basic choice. Hard red winter wheat is the proper name for the whole wheat flour we purchase in a store. Hard white winter wheat is the name for my favorite wheat, sold as “white whole wheat.” I like my bread half traditional whole wheat and half white whole wheat to get the best of both worlds: red wheat is slightly higher in gluten for a better rise, and white wheat has a lighter taste.
Be sure to look for unbromated whole wheat flour – King Arthur states that on their package, and Gold Medal claimed to be unbromated when I called the company. Potassium bromate is a preservative you don’t need to be dealing with.
I know many of you are already baking bread, either regularly or occasionally. For you, an extra bonus challenge:
Consider a Grain Mill
It’s quite oft quoted that a grain loses a ton of nutrients to oxidation in the first 24-48 hours after being milled. The only way to get all the vitamins and minerals from your whole grains, then, is to mill it yourself. I was contemplating a grain mill at Christmastime, but having (1) one more thing to do to bake and (2) one more appliance in a house we’re trying to sell convinced me I had better wait a year.
I know where I’m going for answers when it’s time to buy one:
- GNOWFGLINS comparison of grain mill options.
- Heavenly Homemakers talks about why to get a grain mill and the various options out there, including: Bosch Nutrimill Grain Mill and The WonderMill Grain Mill, among others.
- Buy Grain Mills at Amazon.
- Passionate Homemaking sings the praises of her Blendtec blender, which can grind a cup of grain at a time.
Why Is Freshly Ground Flour Important?
This might be enough to convince me to get a grain mill sooner rather than later…
- Keep your nutrients: light and air destroy B vitamins, and other substances, both fats and proteins, deteriorate quickly after the protective coating of the seed (wheat berry or likewise) is broken.
- Phytase is activated when the kernel is cracked, therefore freshly ground wheat has more phytase activity than stored flour. (The Role of Phytase in Soaking Grains)
- Don’t let your flour go rancid because of the oil in the wheat germ.
- Don’t be a dead rat: in a study, rats fed white bread and bread from flour that sat only 15 days were infertile within four generations. Rats that ate freshly milled flour and bread were healthy. (source)
- It apparently tastes better…
You can grind a lot of grain at once and then immediately freeze the outcome to preserve all the nutrients and save time when it’s time to bake.
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
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22 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Bake Homemade Bread (or Grind Your Own Wheat)”
whole grains are healthy, the hype about/against phytic acid notwithstanding.
You teased me with the raisin bread idea! Is your mom’s recipe top secret? I’ve been trying to find a good one for a while now.
Get a vita-mix!!! It serves so many functions, AND will grind flour!!
Wow, I didn’t know there is a kitchen aid attachment, I will have to check that out!
I am right there with you in thinking that I would NEVER make my own bread -even after I started on the NT path and was making everything else from scratch. Bread has always seemed so overwhelming, time consuming, complicated, etc… Well, here I am now, making bread every week like clock work! I make the Honey Whole wheat sourdough from Sarah’s Musings. Its the only recipe I’ve really had success with so far! I’m afraid to try anything else, but I’d really like to learn a recipe for a tasty crusty loaf to go with soups and stews. I might try her french bread recipe.
I STILL find bread overwhelming and complicated, but at least I have gained some confidence with ONE recipe! I’m starting to think finding a good bread recipe is like finding your perfect pair of jeans – it’s different for everybody! But you sure do have to try on a lot of styles before finding one that fits!
I’ve made MANY sub-par loaves of bread, but it is all part of the learning experience. I have to recommend the bread-baking tutorial at sourdoughhome.com. I made all of those recipes like a good little pupil and I think it made a difference for me. (Not that the recipes came out perfectly.)
I have been *thinking* about grinding my own grain for a little while. I’m not ready to invest in any more appliances yet, but I am interested in possibly getting the kitchenaid attachment since I already have the mixer and would therefore require less storage space and less money. I might be using a coffee grinder for a while!!
Well, I have been challenging myself to start making bread again, (it has been a few years..) And we are going on 4 weeks without buying bread 🙂
I tried a soaked bread a few weeks ago, and it was good (although not great) but when I tried it last weekend I let it go too many hours and it molded and I had to throw away the whole batch 🙁
Tonight we had homemade pizza, made with 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 white whole wheat (not soaked) and it was SOOO good!
I just made my first (well, first successful) homemade bread last week, using a recipe from Jo-Lynne of Musings of a Housewife. Delicious! I’m never buying store-bought again!
I must admit, I’ve always been blessed with good bread making skills. I’m sure part of it was helping my mother when I was a boy. I don’t make bread very often anymore. My schedule is just too busy. Maybe this weekend I’ll bake some while I cook my chicken livers.
.-= Zeke´s last blog ..Eat Natto Now! =-.
You need to thank your mother this weekend, too. What a blessing!
I LOVE homemade bread. So does my whole family. Being grain-free right now, it’s what my husband misses most, I think. We’d dip it in olive oil, make sandwiches, all kinds of things. So yummy. I used to make it a couple times a week, when I could.
Here is my recipe: http://modernalternativemama.blogspot.com/2009/11/dairy-free-whole-grain-bread.html It never fails!! (And yes, you can use regular milk and butter instead if you want.)
.-= Kate´s last blog ..Wooden Toys…GIVEAWAY! =-.
I love the Artisan Bread in 5 book. I have found that adapting those recipes to soak the flour first, has worked great. We use the olive oil dough ( the flour part soaked overnight in kefir) all the time and it makes awesome bread and pizza dough.
.-= Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen´s last blog ..Ladies Supper Club: Dishing Up Vermont! =-.
I use this cookbook all the time but have had difficulty with sprouted wheat flour. Have you tried this and how have you adapted the recipe for soaked wheat exactly.
Thanks for any help you have.
I tried a soaked recipe and posted on it this week: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/02/24/whole-wheat-artisan-bread-in-5-minutes-a-day-reviewand-soaked/ Someone asked about sprouted flour – maybe when you check out my sort-of success, you could reply to their Q in the comments? Thanks! Katie
Just wanted to recommend Passionate Homemaking’s soaked whole wheat bread recipe for its user friendliness and delicious results.
After my husband gave me a KitchenAid Professional 600-watt mixer for Christmas, I decided it was high time to start making my family’s bread. I purchased a Messerschmidt grain mill attachment that’s compatible with KA mixers and it’s been smooth sailing to grind the wheat berries, then knead the bread with the bread hook. (Also, I should add that it’s a LOT of fun to grind wheat berries into flour. Like, it brings me a *ridiculous* amount of joy to stand there, listen to the hum of the grinder and run my fingers through the freshly ground flour. Ha!)
This recipe calls for a dough enhancer but I don’t use it (never got around to ordering it) and the loaves certainly don’t seem to be lacking. I also use unsulphured molasses in lieu of honey simply because I have a bunch in the pantry and it makes for a gorgeous dark brown loaf. Oh, and I use glass 9×5 loaf pans with excellent results. (Some articles I’ve read indicate that wheat bread should be baked in more narrow pans to better support the weight of the denser flour.) Using Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast in the last batch resulted in over-the-top loaves with that satisfying mushroom-y shape.
This has turned into a much too-lengthy comment, Katie, so I apologize and I’ll wrap it up in sec. The last thing I want to mention is that after smelling the fresh-ground flour and then the stuff in the bag of King Arthur’s in the freezer, I was tempted to trash the store-bought stuff. I didn’t because I’m too frugal to do such a thing, but it’s no contest. I’ll have to figure out how to use that store-bought flour (maybe make dog biscuits with it?) because it ain’t going in my bread, that’s for sure!
Once you start making bread with fresh-ground flour, everything else will seem (because it is) like an inferior substitute. I highly recommend you take up grinding your own flour as soon as you can manage it, Katie!
Keep on talkin’! I just need to hear that encouragement a teensy bit more and I’m THERE! The smell, eh? I’m intrigued. It’s really good to know that Lindsay’s bread works w/o the dough enhancer, too. Who am I to critique someone who likes to talk? Type on, friend! 😉 Katie
I’m getting a grain mill for my birthday next month – can’t wait!!!!
.-= Kelli M´s last blog ..Free at last! Free at last! =-.
Did you know you can grind wheat with a coffee grinder? That’s what my mom used to do, when we got triticale from my grandpa’s garden. She would just use a paintbrush to clean out all the coffee grounds from her small coffee grinder, and then grind the grain in batches.
.-= Sheila´s last blog ..Back to Work =-.
That must have taken ages! How long did it take to get enough for one loaf?
.-= Zeke´s last blog ..Eat Natto Now! =-.
Sheila, I had heard of people grinding flax that way. I bet it would take so long to get enough!
Well, not forever, as well as I can remember. It only took about a minute for each batch, in our grinder, and our loaves were small. But I never had to be the one to do the grinding!
.-= Sheila´s last blog ..Back to Work =-.
I forgot to share my bread failure – there have been quite a few. But just this past week, I wasn’t paying attention to my bread during it’s second rising because I was…. blogging! It rose over the pan and I was so frustrated, I just stuffed it back in and baked it anyway! We’ve been able to eat it, but the texture is not as pleasing and it is certainly not pretty. Lesson learned… set a time for your rising to remind you to check it!
For those who already grind their own flour and make bread, they might consider stepping it up one more notch… I decided last summer to stop buying bread from the store. If we ran out of homemade, we did without. In the past it was just way to easy to say, “I’m too busy this week, I’ll just buy some bread.”. The more you make it, the faster and easier it seems. And I trained my teenage daughter so that she could share the responsibility of making it – and she has surpassed me!