Jessi and I have a bread machine we received from my Grandma Furlo. The first time I made bread with it was a little bit of an adventure. First, it didn't come with the instruction manual, but thanks to Google and half an hour of searching I was able to find a PDF version for our machine.
Of course, I was such a noob at making bread I didn't realize that the manual had a mistake in the recipe. I followed along blindly adding 3 tablespoons of salt to this poor small loaf (that's a lot!). Imagine our surprise on our first bite of this delicious smelling bread. Needless to say, I was more than just a little disappointed to be tossing my first creation.
But we didn't quit. We tried again and this time Jessi watched to make sure it turned out well. It did.
From there, we started experimenting with different recipes and variations. For example: substituting whole wheat flour for white, using honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of butter, adding various dry fruits, and so on.
Then we really kicked it up a notch when we got the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It has all sorts of awesome recipes for bread. We've gotten good enough that we don't buy bread at the store anymore. It's so much more fun, and makes the house smell absolutely wonderful.
Side note: I once thought it would be fun to wake up to fresh bread in the morning. Unfortunately, I forgot that bread starts to smell delicious at least an hour before it's done. It smells so good in fact, that I woke up way earlier than I wanted and still had to wait around for the bread to finish. Now I just have fresh bread for lunch or dinner.
Today, I wanted to share one of our favorites. It's called Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (found on page 92).
Here are the ingredients & amounts:
5 cups of whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
5 large eggs
2/3 cups neutral flavored oil, or melted unsalted butter
For cooking in a bread machine, I cut everything in half (2 eggs). You can also cook it on a pizza stone, but I like the bread machine because you can "set it and forget it".
First, I dissolve the yeast with the lukewarm water.
Second, I mix the dry ingredients together in a mixer mixing bowl.
Third, I mix the rest of the liquids together (beat the eggs first)
Fourth, I pour the liquids into the mixer and let it run for a bit. I use a spatula to make sure everything is mixed well. The dough should be very tacky... almost seemingly too wet... don't worry, that's good.
Fifth, I put the dough into the bread machine. Set it for a large loaf and light crust. While that gets going, I clean up the mini-mess I just made. I tried just put the ingredients straight into the machine (in an effort to save time and a mess), but I found our machine doesn't get a proper mix on its own.
Total time is about 30 minutes, and that loaf will last a week for Jessi and I.
The end result is delicious bread that stays moist, doesn't instantly crumble, and is actually healthy for you.