Homemade Bread

I grew up on homemade bread so when I became a wife and mother I felt I should also make bread. At first it didn’t turn out real great, but I kept trying. One of my earliest memories of trying to make bread was at our military house at Mather Air Force Base in California. Lee was in an intense navigator-training program and I was a new military wife with boys’ ages 1 and 2 with number three on the way. I can remember kneading and pounding that bread for quite awhile! The great thing was that when I got through kneading the bread I felt a whole lot better and the bread was the best ever! When the smell of freshly baking bread filled the room, my two active little boys came and we enjoyed fresh homemade bread together. I was hooked! When we moved to Germany on military assignment, we bought a Bosch mixer. Twenty-seven years later I am using the same Bosch mixer to make my bread. This mixer has held up to at least five loaves of bread every week, sometimes ten. During the height of my bread-making career I made enough bread to produce 70 sandwiches a week for my four hungry teenagers who were in cross country running, skiing, and soccer. Now I am back to five loaves a week and am able to give away quite a few loaves to friends and neighbors – or children living close by. I have made so much bread that sometimes I find that I don’t even remember doing it – it is so automatic. I had someone mention to me once that it wasn’t cost effective to make bread. Let’s see – $125 for the Bosch Mixer (back then it seemed like a lot), a wheat grinder (since I grind my wheat fresh every time – it is fresher and cuts the rising time in half), wheat (that I buy in bulk and have in my food storage), yeast (that I buy bulk at Costco), salt (once again – bought in bulk), oil, water and ½ c. of sugar. So, yes, it would be an investment to get started, but then all investments are. For me benefits have come at each stage in my life. As a young mother I had a productive way to get out my frustrations, with several teenagers I had a way to satisfy their hunger, and now I have a way to show extra love. Thank you mom and grandma for showing me how to make bread. I hope you know how grateful I am you took the time.

Here is my recipe. I usually do the 4-5 loaves with my Bosch Mixer, but I have the 2-3 loaves figured out too.

(4-5 loaves)                                         (2-3 loaves)

4 packages active dry yeast                  2 packages active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water                          3/4 cup warm water

5 1/3 cups warm water                          2 2/3 cups warm water

1/2 cup sugar                                           1/4 cup sugar

2 TB salt                                                    1 TB salt

6 TB shortening (I use Canola Oil)       3 TB shortening

18-20 cups flour                                         9-10 cups flour

My process:

I do five loaves at a time and I will tell you doing that.  You may want to make less.

I take about six cups of whole wheat and grind it into flour.  While it is grinding, I put 4 TB of yeast into 1 1/2 cups of pretty warm water in a measuring cup.  Then I take 1/2 cup of sugar and sprinkle just a little into the yeast mixture and dump the rest into a big bowl.  This helps feed the yeast and get it going.  Then I add 2 TB of salt into the big bowl and 6 TB vegetable oil.  The yeast is growing by this point (if it isn’t bubbling up a little, then try it again.  I keep my yeast stored in the refrigerator since I get it in big bags).  You want to make sure your yeast is active. Pour the yeast mixture into the big bowl and then add  5 1/3 cups more water.  Then I start pouring in the wheat flour while mixing.  After the wheat is stirred in, I start adding white flour.  My bread is about 3/4 wheat and 1/4 white.  (About 18-20 cups of flour is added all together.)  I add flour until I can work with it.  Then turn it onto the cupboard and knead it. Then put a little oil in the bottom of the big bowl and put the dough in it, turning the dough so the oily part is on top.  Cover it and let it rise until about double.  If you poke it and it stays indented, it is usually ready.  Then divide the dough into five equal portions, and with a little flour on the counter take one of the pieces and with a rolling pin make it into a rectangle.  Then starting at one of the short ends, roll up into a roll and tuck the two ends under.  Put the dough in the bread pan that has a little oil in the bottom.  Turn the dough over so the oiled side is on top.  Cover the dough in the bread pans with a cloth and let it rise again.  Don’t let it get too high or it will fall and you’ll have flat bread.  Preheat the oven to 350º and then cook for 25-35 minutes (depending on your oven.) You can tell if it is done by tapping the top and if it sounds hollow it is done.  When the bread is done, butter the top and then take it out of the pan and let it cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy!


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