I was born with an inability to follow instructions…..
no….that’s not true….I CAN follow them, I just don’t like to.
One thing I learned in cosmetology school is that you have to learn the rules in order to break the rules, so technically, following a recipe correctly the first time you make it is important, but changing it after that is ok, too.
So fast forward to life now. I ADORE homemade bread. If you’ve ever made it, you know what I’m talking about….the smell, the taste, the savings, the satisfaction. One thing I DON’T love about homemade bread? The texture on day two/three/four. So I set out on a quest to make a whole wheat/whole grain bread that would be fabulous for sandwiches and wouldn’t crumble into sawdust once it cooled after removal from the oven.
I tried lots of things. I tried combinations of lots of things. I tried, and tried, and tried….because that’s what it takes sometimes, right? You know I’m right.
Finally….after many occasions of “not quite it” I came up with the perfect formula. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!
I tried it out on some friends. I didn’t even threaten them, and here’s what they had to say:
Ashley said: “So easy and incredibly yummy! I was surprised that it wasn’t as dense as homemade wheat bread usually is. I’m super excited to make it for my family, knowing it won’t become crumbly and gross after a few days. Thanks for sharing!”
Jessica said: “The best bread that I’ve tried in my whole life!”
Sarah said: “I was so excited to try this recipe and everyone in my family loved it. Even my husband who doesn’t like whole wheat bread, but needs to change his diet said it was fluffy. That is major praise coming from a former wonder bread lover. It is an easy recipe too.”
This recipe has been drastically adapted from a “Setpoint Bread” recipe my mom has used for 30 years. Now, I have made substitutions on occasion (yogurt when I ran out of buttermilk) and forgotten things a time or two (oh yeah, I was supposed to put vinegar in there). The result is entirely edible, but NOT BRILLIANT, so follow the recipe carefully…..and THEN you can play with it if you wanna.
A couple of tips…
- whole wheat begins to lose nutrients as soon as it’s ground, so if you can grind your own, it’s preferable. I use a hard white winter wheat. It’s got a lighter taste and texture than red wheat, so it’s what I recommend.
- Potato Flakes are in the grocery store on the aisle with the boxed dinners and mashed potatoes. Technically, I do suppose it’s possible to make your own, but haven’t ever tried that. **UPDATE** Thrive Life now has Mashed Potato Flakes and boy are they yummy. Best of all? They have ONE INGREDIENT! Potatoes.
- Vital Wheat Gluten can usually be found on the baking aisle, or on Amazon
- You can MAKE YOUR OWN buttermilk (really, why would you pay $2.50-3.00 for a 1/2 gallon when you can make your own GALLON for $1.98)
- I use plain old white vinegar. Haven’t tried any others, so experiment at your own risk.
- What oil you use is up to you, but coconut oil acts as a dough conditioner, and is super healthy for you, so it’s a great pick.
- Finally, if you are not mother (or father) to six ravenous children, and don’t think you’ll go through 4 loaves in a week, put the extra in the FREEZER! The fridge will just dry them out. Freezer, well wrapped, is best. Then again, there’s always french toast….
Printable Recipe Card
Makes 4 loaves
- 8 c. whole wheat flour (divided, freshly ground is preferable)
- 1 c. potato flakes
- 2 T. dry yeast
- 1/3 c. vital wheat gluten
- 3 c. HOT tap water (combining the water with the cold buttermilk will bring these ingredients to the perfect temp)
- 1 c. buttermilk (click on the link and I’ll show you how easy it is)
- 1/3 c. oil
- 1/3 c. honey
- 1 T. salt
- 2 T. vinegar
- Place 5 cups of the freshly ground flour, potato flakes, yeast, and vital wheat gluten in mixer bowl, and pulse to mix.
- Add water and buttermilk.
- Mix 1 minute, then let rest 10 minutes, covered.
- Add remaining ingredients.
- Turn on mixer and quickly add 3 remaining cups of flour. Knead 7-10 minutes (12-15 by hand).
- Dough will be slightly sticky. DO NOT add too much flour.
- Let rise covered for 45 minutes.
- Shape into loaves and place into greased pans. Let rise 30 minutes.
- Bake in preheated 350º oven for 25-35 minutes. I bake mine for 28. You want them to sound hollow, or register 180º on a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf. (yeah, never do it…but I could…)
- Let cool. They say for best results to let cool, but you show me a person who doesn’t dive into a loaf of bread fresh from the oven and I’ll show you a person who’s lost their zest for life! The recipe makes FOUR LOAVES…that means that having ONE sacrificial loaf sliced right out of the oven and slathered with butter and jam, or anything else is JUST FINE!
Please go make my bread and have some fun. Remember that bread making is some science, but a lot art/instinct. It takes some practice to develop instinct, really…you know I’m right. So if you don’t have a perfectly brilliant and perfectly domed and perfectly perfect loaf the first few times…so WHAT! It’ll taste like manna, regardless.
P.S. If baking bread from scratch is not your cup-o-tea, check out Thrive’s new BAKERY LINE! Exciting! There’s a new Country White Dough Mix, Honey Whole Wheat Dough Mix, Basic Cookie Mix, Sugar Cookie Mix, and YEAST! So COOL! You can find more info on my Thrive Life Bakery Page