While it is very convenient and inexpensive to buy bread at the supermarket there is a good reason why people go to farmer’s markets to splurge on a good artisan loaf. The difference is not only in the price but in actual taste and texture. Personally, I do love to go to markets and buy my food but I am a cook from scratch kind of person. When it comes to bread I make no exception. It is a lot easier than you might think and this soft wholemeal sandwich bread not only tastes great but it also very freezer friendly.
There are numerous ways of making your own bread. You can make it from scratch, buy bread mixes that only require adding water or you can even buy a bread maker that will do almost all the work for you. I can not say it wouldn’t be lovely to own a bread maker but it is yet again one more of those unitaskers that take up space when not used. Sure they are great fun if you make bread on a daily basis or have several people to feed but the good old fashioned bowl, hand mixer and baking form are more than enough to produce the perfect loaf.
The first thing you should really take care of when making bread is the yeast. That is the major part that can go wrong from my experience. Be patient and give it time. I learned that taking about 1/3 of the flour and mixing it with the water and the yeast to let it sit for about 20 minutes gives the best results. It should ideally look like thick pancake batter and bubble at that stage.
Once you got the yeast ready add all the other ingredients and mix it for a good 7-8 minutes. If you do it by hand you should do that for at least 10 minutes. This is very important because you need to work the gluten in the flour. If you don’t knead the dough enough the bread will be crumbly and in the worst cast just fall apart. Once it is ready it should be pulling away from the bowl and almost clean it by itself. The dough should be slightly sticky but not so sticky that it clings to the bowl or your fingers. If that is the case add 1 tbsp of flour at a time and keep kneading.
When it comes to choosing the baking forms you can choose whatever you please. A good rule of thumb is to never fill more than 30% of the form with dough since it will rise. Depending on your preference you can choose a more narrow form or a wider one.
Personally, I like the classic square slices when it comes to toast so I like to use narrow forms that almost have 90° corners but wider forms with rounded corners work just as well it is totally up to you. I have taken pictures of both variations so you can see there really is nothing more to it than what you prefer your bread to look like.
After you decided on the form take the dough, form it roughly so it fits into it. There is no need to make it perfect, the dough will fill the form as it rises. At this point, all you need to do is place the dough in a warm spot and wait for 45-60 minutes. Depending on how warm the room is it will take more or less time to get the dough to rise. Place the form in the oven at bake for 30 minutes and there you go. Your own homemade bread.
If you want to you can double or triple the ingredients and make enough to last you a while. Freshly sliced bread is the best but you can slice this loaf and store it in the freezer. I tend to place slices in a large container but you can just as well use zip-lock bags. To thaw the slices leave them out on the counter or pop them in the toaster, which is what I do.
- 475g (3½cups) wholemeal bread flour
- 300ml (1½ cup) lukewarm water
- 2½ tsp dry active yeast
- 2 tsp coconut oil, melted
- 1½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp almond milk + 3 tsp sugar (slightly heated until sugar dissolves)
- Take about a third of the flour, add all of the lukewarm water and yeast. Mix and let it rest. Depending on the room temperature it will take 15-20 minutes to turn slightly foamy and bubble up.
- Add all the other ingredients and make sure that none of them are hot, especially the oil and the milk. Knead the dough for a good 7-8 minutes. If you do it by hand you should do that for at least 10 minutes. Once it is ready it should be pulling away from the bowl and almost clean it by itself. The dough should be slightly sticky but not so sticky that it clings to the bowl or your fingers. If that is the case add 1 tbsp of flour at a time and keep kneading.
- Place the dough in a baking form. The size should be roughly around 12cm*22cm (5inch*9inch) and let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 60 minutes. It should at least double in size.
- Bake the bread for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 175°C (350 °F).