There is nothing quite like sitting down to a slice of buttered home made bread with jelly spread on it and a large glass of milk! I think this was my favorite meal growing up. Especially because my mom used to place buttered bread on a cookie sheet and put it under the broiler in the oven for 3-5 minutes first. Then we would slather the bread with jelly and eat. Oh my! It was not uncommon to come home from school and find 15 loaves of fresh home baked bread and 2 huge cookie sheets of homemade cinnamon rolls out on the counters cooling. To this day, my husband has always preferred my mom’s homemade cinnamon roll recipe to any other.
Here’s the batch I baked last Saturday.
Mom was a wonderful bread baker. When she was only 8 years old her mother put her in charge of their farm kitchen on Saturdays baking home made bread and desserts for the week. She had 1 older brother and 2 older sisters at this time. She also had 2 younger brothers and a new baby sister by then. Two more sisters came along the last being born when she was 15. Apparently the older sisters got out of these chores because they were taking piano lessons. This caused much sibling rivalry and the reason my mom would never allow musical instruments in our house when we were growing up.
As part of her weekly duties Mom had to make up about 15-20 loaves of homemade bread, 6-8 pies, 2 or 3 cakes, and at least 1 or 2 batches of cookies for the week. To hear her tell it, she spent all day Saturday, every Saturday, at these tasks. She grew up on a farm in southeastern Ohio. They had their own cows for milk and beef, their own pigs, chickens, and a mammoth garden (it took a lot to feed 9 kids all year round). They had blackberry and raspberry bushes, strawberry fields, and cherry, apple, and pear trees in their yard. And it was common for the boys to hunt rabbit, squirrels, birds, ducks, etc., for additional food.
They had a pretty self-supporting farm during her growing up years. They made their own soap, candles, toothpaste, blankets, clothing–just about everything. During the week, Mom’s jobs were to milk cows and feed the chickens and pigs. In the evenings they were always mending socks and clothes – almost like your typical Little House on the Prairie kind of home. They didn’t have an automobile right away. They used horses and buggies to get to town. They walked a couple of miles to and from school each day. They didn’t have electricity in the beginning either. It took awhile before electricity made it to the hills of southeastern Ohio.
Mom obviously learned to bake from her mother. She told me her mom came from Czechoslovakian roots although my dad always said her mom had a Polish background. Her father came over to America from Czechoslovakia at the turn of the century. They had an arranged marriage which was common to keep different cultures and ethnicities together in those days. Grandma was 14 and Grandpa was 22 when they married.
Mom was amazing in the kitchen. I wish I learned more from her than I did, but I’m grateful for what I did learn. I learned on her basic white bread recipe. But after we had been married 5 or 6 years and kids had come along I asked my mom if she had a whole wheat bread recipe. We took this basic recipe and adapted it to fit our needs. I’ve adapted it again for this post but I will include the original recipe and changes so you are free to pick and choose what you like out of it. I’m not going to load the videos on this post for kneading. That’s found on my “Tips for Baking Homemade Bread,” so this will be somewhat streamlined.
This bread is really healthy with home ground whole grain wheat and spelt flours, honey instead of sugar, and butter instead of shortening or cheap hydrogenated oils.
Here’s what I did.
In a large mixing bowl I put the salt, butter (instead of Crisco shortening), and honey (instead of molasses or honey and sugar). Here I’m adding the scalded milk (I had heavy whipping cream in the refrigerator so I used that instead of milk) to those ingredients and stirring until the butter dissolves.
Here the butter has dissolved.
I cut the corners off the yeast packets and have them ready to go once the water is the right temperature.
You can see the yeast floating on top of my pyrex measuring cup ready to be dissolved.
Here I’ve stirred it.
I’m taking the wooden spoon and pushing/smashing the yeast against the edge of the measuring cup to get it to dissolve.
This is hard red wheat berries that a friend home ground for me (thanks, Megyn!)
I also used soft white wheat berries home ground that I substituted for the bread flour in the recipe.
I started out with the whole wheat flour first (red berry). I only had 8 cups of this so I ended up using some of the spelt flour, too. (I was making a triple batch of this recipe).
I added the wheat flour to the liquid ingredients (which included the yeast/water mixture).
I began adding the bread flour (soft white berry flour which is more like pastry or cake flour).
Because this home ground whole wheat flour is more dense and heavier than overly refined store bought flour I decided to add some vital wheat gluten to ensure the bread would raise enough. Normally about 2 tbsp. wheat gluten per batch. I only added 4 tablespoons instead of 6.
Here, the vital wheat gluten is sprinkled on top.
I continued to add all but about the last two cups of the flour and stirred it into the dough.
I added at least a cup of flour on the counter and top of the bread to begin with. I added a few more cups of bread (pastry flour) as I continued to work and knead the dough.
The dough is still really gooey, so I separate my fingers wide and poke flour into the dough several times to get it to an easier consistency to work with. (It’s very hard to knead really sticky bread dough!)
I keep sweeping flour from the counter top into the bread dough as I pull the bread toward me with one hand and push it away with the heel of my other hand. If you want to see a demo of this check out my “tips for baking home made bread” post with a video which shows me kneading the dough at the beginning and then toward the end when it is almost completed.
Here I am pushing the dough with the heel of my hand working more flour into the dough.
Here I am pulling the dough toward me. This will be followed by pushing the dough away again. This is a messy endeavor!
Here I’m muscling the dough again. This really takes a good bit of upper arm strength. If you do this regularly it really builds some muscle!
I keep pulling dough toward me, sweeping flour up into it, and then pushing away with the heel of my other hand. Your arms and hands get tired when you are doing these large amounts, so you learn to knead with both hands rather than just one.
This one shows me sweeping some of the flour from the counter top into the bread. The whole idea is to get the bread so that it is no longer sticky, but smooth, elastic in texture, and the yeast and flour completely worked through the whole lump of dough.
We are almost at the point where the dough is completely worked and it is getting smooth and elastic-like. Plain white bread is a lot easier to get completely smooth. The heavier, denser whole wheat bread just doesn’t get quite as smooth. It took me about 25 or 30 minutes to work this triple batch of dough for 6 loaves of bread. As you knead with the heel of your hand you begin pressing out air which goes out of the dough like a woosh sound. That’s when you know it’s about done. This is much louder in plain white bread than with the denser whole wheat bread.
Grease a really large mixing bowl.
Place dough into greased bowl.
Turn dough greased-side-up. If necessary, add some more Crisco shortening to the top of the dough ball.
Cover dough with a tea towel and place in a warm place to raise. I placed mine in the garage on top of the dog crates. Our garage gets to about 120 degrees during the middle of summer–maybe even hotter! It’s a great place to raise bread.
Grease your bread pans really well with Crisco shortening.
In about an hour the dough had more than doubled in size.
I pushed the dough down with my fist.
Then, Mom always poked holes through the remaining dough to release extra air.
Cut the dough with a knife into the amount of loaves you are making. Place dough out on counter and rub the dough out with your hands kind of in a rocking motion to work all the lines and seams out of the dough. Turn that side up and fold and tuck the rest of the dough underneath. That will go on the bottom of the pan and you won’t see it after baking. Place dough in bread pan.
Grease the tops of the bread.
Cover the bread with the tea towel again and let raise a second time. This time, my bread raised in about 45 minutes.
Ready for the oven.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place the bread in the oven and bake about 45 minutes for regular 9×5″ loaves. To check for doneness, tap the bottom of the pan with your knuckles. It should have a hollow kind of sound to it.
Remove from pans immediately and place on wire rack. Butter tops with butter to keep bread soft and not allow crust to get too hard.
Butter the tops of the bread.
Here’s another view of the finished product.
After the butter has absorbed into the bread, cover loaves with a tea towel until cool, about 30 minutes.
Slice and serve.
Butter and jam are nice accompaniments! Enjoy!
Here’s the recipe with my alterations.
HONEY WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
(Recipe from my mom, Helen Mattis, Titusville, FL)
¾ cup milk (I used heavy whipping cream because I was trying to use it up)
3 heaping tablespoonfuls sugar (I eliminated this and used 1/2 cup honey instead)
1/3 cup Crisco shortening (I used unsalted butter instead)
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup honey (the original recipe called for molasses, we substituted honey instead)
1 ½ cups very warm water (105 to 115°) (115 is awful hot. I probably dissolve the yeast in water about 105 degrees)
2 pkg. yeast
4 ½ cups whole wheat flour (we used 3 cups whole wheat and 3 cups bread flour. For this recipe I used about 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups spelt flour, and 3 cups bread or pastry flour)
2 ¾ cups bread flour
Scald milk; stir milk into sugar, (I eliminated the sugar) salt, shortening, and honey. Cool to lukewarm. Measure warm water into large bowl. Dissolve yeast. Stir into lukewarm milk mixture adding 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flours to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour to surface as necessary to keep dough from sticking, about 8-10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning dough to grease top. Cover, let rise in warm place, free from draft until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down and let rest 20 minutes. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Roll and shape into loaf. Place in well greased 9×5” loaf pan. Brush with shortening on the top. Cover and let rise again about another hour. Bake in preheated 300° oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven promptly and tap on bottom to remove loaf from pan. Allow to cool on wire rack. Brush with melted butter or margarine immediately after placing on wire rack to keep tops from hardening. Makes 2 loaves.
Here the bread is cut and ready to serve! The difference between the texture of hand-kneaded bread and bread kneaded with a dough hook or in the breadmaker is amazing. It is softer–just wonderful! Homemade honey whole wheat bread is a wonderful tasting bread your family will love!