Last January, inspired by a Greatist team member who decided to avoid all processed food, I vowed to only eat bread made in my own kitchen. Considering that I consume toast at least twice a day, my bread habit was getting kind of expensive. Plus, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the additives and unpronounceable ingredients in most packaged bread (ever wonder why it can sit on the shelf for weeks without going stale?).
Although it’s been on our list of Healthy Foods to Make and Never Buy Again for over a year, many people believe that baking bread is a tricky, experts-only kind of operation. Far from it! It’s possible to make tasty, super-easy bread with just a few common pantry ingredients. Read on for the simplest, easiest honey-wheat bread recipe ever, plus instructions on how to turn a bowl of flour into a loaf of wholesome yumminess.
P.S. I didn’t end up lasting the whole year without eating pre-packaged bread. But I’m ready to try again in 2014!
Recipe: DIY Bread
What You’ll Need:
- 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour (bread flour is ideal, but all-purpose works just fine)
- 1 cup white flour (bread or all-purpose)
- 1 cup warm (but not hot) water (100 degrees)
- 1 packet of yeast (yeast almost always comes in 2-teaspoon pouches)
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
- Pinch salt
Yield: 1 medium-sized loaf
(Scroll down for detailed instructions)
What to Do:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Gently stir the yeast and water together in a small bowl until the yeast dissolves. (The water should be cloudy and light brown with some small bubbles on the surface.) Set aside.
- Mix the brown sugar, honey, oil, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- Add both flours to the mixing bowl (which already contains the sugar, honey, oil, and salt). Pour the yeast-water mixture on top and stir everything together. If the mixture is too difficult to mix with a spoon, it’s fine to use clean hands.
- Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. Let it rest for about two hours, or until it’s doubled in size, in a warm spot (a sunny patch on the counter, inside the microwave next to a bowl of hot water, or near a heat vent are all good places).
- Punch down the dough (literally punch into the bowl with your fist) and knead it (folding, pressing, and turning the dough) for three to five minutes. If it’s sticky, rub some flour on your hands and sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Don’t skip kneading — it’s essential in strengthening the gluten, which makes the dough rise and helps provide a fluffy texture. To test if you’re done kneading, gently press into the dough with two fingers. If the indentations stay after you remove your fingers, it’s ready to go. If they fill back in, keep kneading and repeat the test until the indentations remain.
- Shape the dough into a loaf. You can either roll it, fold it, or just kind of smoosh it (technical term) into a rectangular shape. Place the loaf in an ungreased loaf pan or on a baking sheet.
- Let the dough rest for one hour, covered with a clean dishtowel, in a warm spot (any of the warm spots described in step #5 will work).
- Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until the top is golden brown and emits a loud, hollow-sounding noise when you flick it gently with a finger.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Homemade bread doesn’t stay fresh as long as store-bought baked goods. To keep it from drying out, avoid slicing the bread until you’re ready to eat it. Store it at room temperature in a paper bag or just “naked” on a plate — covering fresh bread with plastic can trap moisture, which makes the crust soft and encourages mold growth.
Recipe slightly adapted from Ready Nutrition.
Photos by Kelsey Smith.
Have you ever made homemade bread? What are your favorite tricks of the trade? Share in the comments below or get in touch with the author @SophBreene.