My mom was horrible at making homemade bread. She was an excellent cook in many ways, but she really struggled making any bread product beyond cinnamon rolls. Because of that, I always assumed bread making was hard. Fast forward to college, I had two roommates who made homemade bread every week. They would make a batch of five or six loaves at a time, and it turned out perfectly every time.
Now, my bread doesn’t turn out perfectly every time. But, I have learned a few tricks from them and practice.
1) Don’t be afraid of getting your water too hot. I actually check the temperature on my water before I use it. My goal is 110-120 degrees F. That is hotter than you think. I generally have to microwave mine.
2) Don’t over flour your dough. You can always add more flour later, but you can’t take it out.
3) Let the dough rise long enough. Especially if your kitchen isn’t very warm, it can take longer than the hour that most recipes suggest.
4) I have found better success with instant yeast over active dry yeast.
5) If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Each time you make bread you will learn something that will make the next batch better.
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (Makes 1 loaf)
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast
3-4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1. Combine the honey, water, yeast, and 1 cup flour in a bowl. Let this mixture “sponge” for 15 minutes.
2. Add the oil, salt, and gluten. While mixing, add in remaining flour one cup at a time until dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl. Dough should be smooth and elastic, but still a bit sticky. Knead by hand 7-10 minutes or by mixer for 6-10 minutes, until dough is smooth, elastic, and bubbles appear below the surface of the dough.
3. Lightly grease sides of bowl with cooking spray and roll dough in the “oil”. Lightly cover and let rise in warm place until double in size, about 1-2 hours.
4. Form into loaf and place in lightly greased loaf pan. Let rise again until almost doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.
5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Dump bread out of pan and let it cool completely before slicing.
Nutritional Information (Amount per slice, about 12 slices per loaf):
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 33 g
Fiber: 4.5 g
Sodium: 197 mg
Recipe notes: I substituted sugar for some of the honey with good results. I use white wheat flour, but my friend who gave me the recipe uses the regular whole wheat flour with good results. The mixture will actually begin to look like a sponge in step one, due to the bubbles from the yeast.
Source: adapted from a friend’s recipe
Low-iodine adjustment: Use non-iodized salt. I don’t know the iodine content of vital wheat gluten, but none of the recipes in the low iodine cookbook use vital wheat gluten. To be safe, I substituted 2 egg whites and had good results. I used to use a bread machine on the low iodine diet, but this bread is worlds better than anything from a bread machine.