Tuesday, 27 December 2011

How to Make My Husband Happy

I thought I might take a bit of a detour from our story today and share with you a simple yet effective way of making my Mountain Man happy. I do it at least once a week depending on the necessity. I bake bread.

Baking bread something I have been doing since I was a young girl. The methods have been passed down from generation to generation with little deviation. I think every family probably has a slightly different method but the results are the same. A delicious and cost effective product that produces an aroma which can not be resisted and not only warms the senses but the heart as well. I am constantly amazed at the simplicity and ease with which it is made and yet the inability or lack of desire to make it by so many. Especially when you consider that a good loaf of bread now costs in the range of $3 or more and I can make it for probably a quarter of that price. But I digress so without further adieu here is a simple starter recipe for bread.

Basic Brown Bread
Makes 3 loaves

2 3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons yeast

Dissolve the sugar in the water then stir in the yeast. Let this rest for 10 min.

Yep! I am using my favorite popcorn bowl. The yeast is all ready to go.

Add to this mixture:
2 eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt

Start adding the flour. For this simple first recipe we will start with 4 cups whole wheat flour added one cup at a time. Stir, stir, stir! 

All of the whole wheat flour has been incorporated.

Now the real fun begins! We will be adding 3 or so cups of unbleached flour to the mix fairly slowly. You can start out with the first cup and then will probably add about 1/2 cup at a time until all is added. I can't give you an exact amount as it varies depending on if I measured the liquids exactly or if my eggs were a bit bigger or smaller than last time.

After about the first cup or less you will no doubt realize you can't use a spoon anymore so it's time to use your hands. Remember to remove your jewelry first! Don't want it baked into the bread. The dough is completed when it no longer sticks to you hands. So, keep mixing, scraping the sides of the bowl and cleaning off your hands while adding more flour. It takes a bit of practice but you really can't mess up. Just keep going, scrapping, folding the dough over and punching it down until you have a nice thick dough which doesn't stick to your hands anymore. Then continue kneading for another 10 minutes as this will result in a much better dough. I usually transfer the dough to a floured board for this part. This is the most time consuming but vital part of the recipe; just think of it as a muscle building exercise! There is a traditional dough kneading method pictured here which might help if you haven't done this before.

Once you are finished kneading flip the dough out of the bowl (unless you have already removed it to knead it) and oil the bowl. Then oil the top of the dough ball (really the bottom smooth side) by swiping it around the bottom of the bowl and finally turning it right side up. Now let it rest and rise in a warm place. I place mine on top of my warming closet on my wood stove. 

All risen and ready to be made into loaves

Once the dough has risen to about double or more in size it is time to make it into loaves. This can take a long time or a short time depending on the yeast and the warmth. Once it has doubled in size punch it down to remove air pockets and separate into three balls. Then still removing some of the air pockets work each ball a bit and shape into an oblong shape which will fit into your loaf pans. 

OK... So I'm not perfect at this, but it doesn't matter as the end result is still pretty much the same. 

Once you have place the dough in the pans allow them to rise in that same warm place until close to the size you are looking for while remembering it will continue to rise a bit in the oven.

Now it's time to bake! Yahoo!!! Place in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. 

So there you have it! My not so perfect looking but perfectly delicious bread which my Mountain Man will dive into before it has even begun to cool. If you have never made bread before don't be afraid to start! It doesn't have to be perfect! Yumm.....

 A big thank you to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways for there blog hop.


  1. Fresh bread - mmmmm. I also made some on the weekend. I started around 6 and before 10 I was taking 5 loaves out of the oven. We don't eat a lot of bread so that will last us for likely a month. I'm curious how you store yours without electricity. Actually, I'm curious how to keep many items fresh without electricity (butter, mayo, pickles, leftovers, etc.) - I guess in winter it's a no-brainer, but otherwise? I look forward to reading what's up with you and yours each day. Take care. Gloria

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  2. Well, we do have electricity, just not as much as most people. Great idea for a post though! :) Stay tuned!

  3. I cannot wait to try this bread recipe. It looks so delicious! I have tried numerous bread recipes, in hopes of finding a sandwich bread one so as to stop buying bread. But, I have had no luck! Yours looks perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  4. My mom has been making bread since before I was born, but for some reason I have never attempted it. Your post has inspired me. Thanks!

  5. I will admit that I have never made bread in my life but it is one of the things I want to accomplish this year and this looks like the one! But... I am a little confused how many cups of flour does it have?

  6. Hi Heather, there are 4 cups whole wheat flour and 3 cups (give or take a bit) of unbleached or white flour.

  7. That looks and sounds really delicious. I'm making bread right now, just a simple french bread. It will go perfect with homemade vegetable soup based on homemade chicken stock for dinner :)

  8. Awesome - thanks! I am going to try it in the next few days. I am scared but excited!

  9. What size are your bread pans? I have one or maybe 2 smaller bread pans but nothing this size with which to bake.

  10. My bread pans are 9.25 x 5.25 x 2.75 inches. Pretty regular sized and I think purchased at one of the big box stores. You could also make this dough into buns or non-traditional loaves. I haven't tried it as I like to make traditional shaped bread but I know a few people who bake round loaves in a casserole dish or what ever else they have on hand. You might have to adjust the cooking time according to the size of pan you use.

  11. Hi! I'm making it now and am wondering whether to oil/grease the loaf pans. Thanks!

  12. Yes, at least I always have. Also, when you take it out of the oven let them rest about 5 to 8 minutes in the pans. They should then slide right out.

  13. It's done and delicious! Our three-year-old asked for thirds on her snack of bread and butter. I am amazed at how well it cuts into sandwich slices. I am planning to freeze two of the loaves.

  14. The thought of making bread by hand always intimidated me. I always used a bread machine. The bread comes out okay but the loaf is so darn small. After reading your basic brown bread recipe, I have decided to try making it by hand. Wish me luck! Thanks for the recipe, I will continue to follow you.

  15. Thanks for the update Justine! Just a tip. When you thaw it out cut the whole loaf up when still slightly frozen. It will cut perfectly.

    You can do it Sandy! :)

    1. Glo, Okay, I tried the recipe yesterday and bombed it! I made my water to hot for the yeast. Ended up with hockey pucks,lol So, I braved the bread making again today. Yeast did it's job correctly because I finally got the temperature right. The dough is raising as we speak. Looking forward to the finally product later today. Again thanks for your recipe, it's a beauty! Thanks for your support :-)
      Catch you later,

    2. I sure hope your second batch turned out well Sandy!

    3. Glo, Second batch turned out great. 3/4 of the first loaf gone (the guys loved it). Second loaf wrapped up for the next several days and third loaf wrapped and placed in freezer. Yep, I can say homemade bread by hand is the only way to go. Forget about the bread machine. Thanks, Glo :)

  16. Thank you for this great tutorial! Bread has always scared me in that I never seem to make it right. Either my dough doesn't rise or the bread is hard as a rock or crumbly and dry.
    This post has inspired me to try again!

  17. How long do you let it rise when it's in the bowl? Or how much should it change in size? I'm another who has always been intimidated, but thinking about trying it out tomorrow. you make it sound easy!

    1. Let it rise to about double in size. How long it takes will depend on how warm it is. You don't want it too hot just nice and warm. It really isn't hard. Once you have done it once you will realize it really isn't a big deal. I don't think I have ever had bread flop on me. Although, once I under cooked it due to not having the wood stove's oven hot enough.

    2. Thanks!!! It was successful and I have three yummy loafs. They look browner than yours in the pictures - maybe its the flour or molasses I used? Next time, I'll make a loaf or two and then rolls to freeze. It is delicious and I've conquered my bread making fear. THANK YOU!!!! What do you wrap yours in for freezing? And how do you store it otherwise?

    3. Sorry for taking so long to reply! Mine was browner this time as well as I used the molasses at the bottom of the container. You might have done the same? I've saved all my bags from store bought bread and have been using them as it is hard to find bags the right size to purchase. I rarely freeze my bread as it is gone in about 5 days. I store the extra loafs in the refrigerator and have never had one go bad. Hopefully you can find the right size bags in your stores. We don't have much of a selection up here.

  18. Hi,
    Wondering how this bread could be done GLUTEN-FREE...does anyone have a simple recipe for that?
    thanks very much,

  19. Hi Again,
    Also, does anyone know how to get GLUTEN-FREE flour (rice, tapioca, or ???) cheaper than the small Red Mill bags that are so expensive?
    Thanks again,

    1. Sorry I can't help. :( I've never had to make anything gluten-free. Hope you find a good source for flour!

    2. Buy the grain ie. rice, tapioca, in bulk and grind yourself. Somethings like oats you can use a food processor. A food mill is spendy, but makes some flours more nutritious (wheat, though it does have gluten). It will save you in the long run. I like my Nutrimill for dry foods. Azure Standard delivers to most of the US and the prices are amazing especially given most are organic. They sell all sorts of stuff.

  20. Awesome! Thank you for the article and recipe. Would you have a recipe for Sourdough Bread or maybe Sourdough Wheat bread?

    1. I've just started experimenting with sourdough so I haven't developed my own recipe yet. One I have tried can be found here.

    2. Thanks Glo,

      I might try this one:

  21. Those loaves look amazing! Thanks for linking up at Tiny Tip Tuesday!

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