First, ya better have a recipe...
Chef Maki's Favorite Bread Recipe
3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tablespoon SAF instant yeast
1 to 2 teaspoons Salt
2 1/2 Cups Warm Water (Bathtub temperature is good)
3 Tablespoons Oil (I use corn oil)
3 Tablespoons Honey
3 Cups White Flour
Basically, all you need to do is mix up the first 3 ingredients, then add the next 3. Work in the white flour, turning out to knead when you can't stir any longer. Knead for about 10 minutes. Let it rise covered with plastic wrap for about 30 minutes or until doubled. Divide and put into two buttered and floured loaf pans. Let it rise again until double, preferably in warm oven (turn oven on lowest setting for only 1 minute, then turn it off for perfect temperature before putting bread in.) Bake at 350 for about 35 to 45 minutes or until nice golden color is achieved.
That's the recipe. Here's the pointers. Freshly ground wheat is best, of course. I am not going to show off the picture I took of my wheat grinding in my wheat grinder because the picture I took really stunk! It might have been better if I had turned the machine off for a minute so that the kernels stopped moving around. That probably is what made it not want to focus! Ummm, yeah. So, freshly ground wheat is awesome because it is nice and warm (feels good and helps the yeast).
I usually quadruple the batch. That makes about 8 loaves. I freeze a couple, give one or two away and my family scarfs down the rest rapidly.
Adding an additional note here, several hours after original posting. I meant to include the fact that you can use all whole wheat or whatever ratio you would like of wheat to white. The bread will still turn out fine. It typically takes longer kneading time when you use 100% wheat. It can also feel a little gritty on your hands when you knead with only wheat. That's what to watch for. The 100% whole wheat tends to crumble more easily too.
This first video will show you step by step what I do to get the dough together. I totally appreciate Princess making the video more interesting. :)
This next video starts off towards the end of kneading. Tells you what to look for to know you are done kneading, etc.
Now the bread is done rising and this video instructs you on what to do now, including the boys favorite part--punching down the dough!
When I take the loaves out of the oven, I place them on wire racks to cool. I cover them with a non-fuzzy kitchen towel. One secret I learned on accident is that if you put the bread into plastic bags before the bread has completely cooled, your bread won't have a hard crust. It will be nice and soft, through and through. How warm should it be? Not very. Just only slightly warm. If you put it in while it is too hot, you will end up with soggy bread--not so fun.
And here is what happens when the bread has been on the wire racks for a short time. It magically shows up on your cutting board. (Sorry, not the prettiest loaf I have ever made.)
Then the knife carves thick, mouthwatering slices...
Finally, a slice gets slathered with butter that melts upon contact and it indulges in too much raspberry jam. Mmmmmmm! Heavenly!
Nanner, pictured above, told me this horror story: "Mom! There's this girl on my cross-country team who has NEVER tried homemade bread!" Now that is a deprived young lady for sure. Anybody want a slice?