For the longest time I thought home baked bread was a skill reserved for the Ma Ingalls type of woman. You know, the woman who plucks her own chicken, sews her own apron, cuts her children’s hair, picks eggs, and grinds wheat.
I don’t hold a candle to Ma Ingalls. I may get my craft on every once in a while, but I am no Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, or Pioneer Woman. I respect all these women and their amazing talents, but I simply cannot walk in their shoes.
I burn the chicken and set my stove on fire.
Sometimes I am downright dangerous in the kitchen, as evidenced in last night’s chopped finger.
Besides, baking bread always seemed so complicated. You had to kneed and punch and rise and bake and rise again…I quit before I even finished reading the recipe.
I love bread though, like I really LOVE it. I shouldn’t because it’s one of the dreaded carbs and carbs kill (or something like that), but I don’t care. Freshly baked bread with a thick layer of store bought butter is like a little piece of fat-filled heaven.
So I started thinking about this bread-baking thing.
People bake their own bread every single day in tons of countries where Wonder Bread does not exist. If they can do it in their brick oven, surely I can manage a loaf or two. After all, I have a Kitchen Aid, quick rise yeast, and an electric stove on my side.
So I began reading recipes, lots of recipes. And I noticed something. You only need a handful of ingredients to bake a loaf of bread.
Flour – Yeast – Water – Salt – Sugar – oil
That’s it! It really is that simple.
Now you can trade the sugar for honey or pure molasses, and maybe sometimes you want to trade the oil for butter, and the water for milk, but it’s all basically the same. If you want a cake-like type of bread, you add eggs. If you want healthier grains, you use unbleached whole wheat flour and add ground flax seed and maybe substitute a cup of flour for oatmeal.
There’s so much you can do!
Once I began looking at baking bread through simplistic eyes, I started thinking maybe I didn’t need to be Ma Ingalls after all. Maybe, just maybe, I could bake bread too.
Recipe: (Adapted from Amanda’s Cookin’. I follow her recipe pretty closely, but her flour measurements just did not work for me.)
5 cups bread flour (or all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, etc.)
You can also substitute one cup flour for one cup oatmeal.
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (I use Flieshmann’s Active Yeast (the jar) and I always keep it in the freezer.)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (I use olive oil, but your favorite will work)
1 3/4 cup warm water
Combine dry ingredients in a mixer and mix using a dough hook. Slowly pour in warm (not hot) water, honey, and oil. Knead for about 5 minutes. You want the dough to stick together and form a ball in the mixing bowl.
Here’s the tricky part. Humidity, temperature, and elevation all affect bread, so you may need to adjust the recipe slightly for your area or season. Maybe you’ll need a slight bit more water or flour. Don’t freak out, just add it. You’ll get accustomed to baking bread. It’s not rocket science, no matter what the cookbooks tell you.
This recipe makes two loafs. I only have one loaf pan, so I make one loaf and shape the other half of the dough into a ball and bake it on a lightly floured baking stone.
I grease my loaf pan with oil or butter and lightly flour it.
Then I put the loaves somewhere warm to rise – either in the same room with the woodstove or into a warmed oven. I generally let my bread rise for about an hour, sometimes longer if I get busy. You want the dough to double.
Bake at 350 degrees for twenty-five minutes.
I melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and brush it on the tops of my loaves about five minutes before baking is complete. It causes the tops to brown nicely and it’s Oh, So Yummy!
Do you bake your own bread?
My kids want me to bake it so they have fresh bread every single day, but we don’t need to be eating a loaf of bread every day, so I bake it often, but not too often.
Alison at NOVA Frugal Family says
I love fresh bread. I actually make all of our families bread now and we eat about a loaf of sandwich bread a week. I take the easy way out and make it in the bread maker but this sounds interesting. I want to try a loaf that uses oatmeal or oat flour so maybe I will have to try this one. It sounds like it might make some yummy sandwich or toast too
Anneke at This, That and Life says
This looks SO yummy! My kids would request this every day too – ha! Thanks for linking it up to Miss Flibbertigibbet’s!
mmm this looks fabulous! I am gluten sensitive and have always wanted to bake my own gf bread but am like you- so intimidated! Maybe I should just go for it Thanks for linking up and sharing!
Aimee Steckowski says
AND thanks for linking up!!
Aimee Steckowski says
so delicious girl! YUM! i am a HUGE fan of homemade bread and typically do the 5 min artisan but THIS looks yummy. i’m curious — can you exchange all 5 cups with 5 cups of oat flour or should it have a % of gluten?? either way, we’re making it!!
Aimee, I wish I knew the answer to that. I’ve never used oat flour. I substitute 1/2 with whole wheat flour and exchange one cup of flour for one cup of oats, but never oat flour. I’m sorry, I don’t know.
Jessie @ Dream & Differ says
You’ve inspired me! I have always been intimidated by anything involving yeast… but I decided to give it another try after reading your post. And I’m happy to report it turned out great! Thank you!
So happy you made this and enjoyed it. Yay!!!!
Apple Hill Cottage says
This bread http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/rosemary-lemon-no-knead-bread.html is the best bread you will ever make. It is a weird recipe–no kneading–but it comes out wonderful every time. It tastes like you are a domestic goddess instead of on the fringe It calls for a fancy-schmancy Williams-Sonoma cast iron pan., but I made it the first time in my old cornngware square casserole dish with the glass lid. It turned out great, and so I went in search of a cheap cast iron pan. Ikea had them for $30, and I gave two of them as Christmas gifts last year with a loaf of bread and the recipe inside. If you try it, don’t tell me if you don’t like it…
Capri K says
Your bread looks SCRUMTRULESCENT!!!
The only bread I make is in the bread machine, easy peasy.
Little Sonshine Girl says
I absolutely love these pictures–particularly the last one! I look a bit like that when I get around bread too. Thank you so much for putting a smile on my face today. I will certainly have to try the recipe one day.
Christy, I like your reasoning. A little oatmeal makes everything better.
I cut myself and burn myself when I am cooking. Thanksgiving is especially bad. Last year I nearly could not stop the bleeding. True story. I am just glad I am not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. I should come out unscathed.
free penny press says
I have tried to bake bread a few times and all times it fell flat and was tasteless. I may have to dust off my loaf pans and give this recipe a try.. Wish me luck!!
I made this last night for company and everyone loved it. I used 3 cups bread flour and 2 cups whole wheat. My honey may have overflowed slightly, but it was tasty. Best of luck to you!
Christy @ My Invisible Crown says
Right this moment I have 5 cuts on my hands. What is wrong with me? I cut myself from time to time but I am never this bad so I feel your pain (pun intended)! I LOVE evil bread, too. This looks awesome! Love that you used oats! See…that cancels out the bad parts anyway.