The following recipe is the result of my efforts to learn to make a really good basic bread. I spent months trying all kinds of recipes, from websites to classic, old cookbooks and I finally found one that turned out just like I wanted, crisp and golden on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside and perfect for making sandwiches out of.
Then the fun part started and my natural ability to not let things alone kicked in. I started experimenting, adding things here, substituting things there. Some of them are wonderful, and I will share them with you at the bottom of the page.Others have died a miserable death in the chicken yard where they will be forgotten forever.
I say this to say:
Don’t be afraid if you’ve never made bread before! Making homemade bread can be intimidating and it’s tempting to just run to the store and grab a loaf. But I challenge you to try it and keep on trying. I think that this bread will change the way you think of bread and never again will you be able to eat a flavorless, mass produced loaf again!
I will show you my basic bread recipe step by step and then share some of my favorite variations.
I use my Kitchenaid for making bread. I have done it by hand, and you can too, but it is far easier to use one of these wonderful machines! If you don’t have one, stop right now, grab your gift list and put this at the very top! It will be the most valuable and used piece of equipment in your kitchen!
I will give these instructions using a Kitchenaid mixer, but you can follow the same steps and do it by hand as well.
Basic Homemade Bread
This recipe will make one loaf of bread. You can double, triple, or quadruple this recipe.
1 cup warm water
1 TBS active yeast
Pour water into mixing bowl and add yeast. Gently stir and let sit for a few minutes to activate, or until dissolved.
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs Olive or Coconut oil
Attach dough hook to your Kitchen Aid and turn on low speed. Add next three ingredients and mix on low speed
3 cups of Organic, Non-Bleached, All Purpose Flour
Add flour one cup at a time, with the mixer on speed two.
Continue adding flour until you have a nice lump of dough that is not sticky to the touch.
Once your dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl you can let your mixer knead for about 5 min. to develop the gluten in your dough.
When your dough is finished kneading, it will be smooth and elastic. You can take a small piece and stretch it between your fingers and it will pull, almost like a rubber band, and not rip.
(If you do not have a Kitchenaid, you will have to knead your dough by hand on a clean, smooth surface about 100 times.)
While your bread is kneading, ( or after you finish by hand), grease a large, clean bowl.
Turn off your machine and remove your dough. Place dough in greased bowl, turning once so greased side is up. Cover bowl with a towel and put in a warm spot to rise.
I put mine on the back of my stove and set the oven on warm
Rising will take about 1 hour. Your dough will double in size.
Once your dough has risen, remove the towel, ball up your fist, and punch your dough.
Your dough will deflate before your eyes.
Knead your dough back into a ball; I usually do this right in the greased bowl, by folding the corners, working my way around the bowl until it’s a ball in the middle.
Turn your dough onto a clean counter top. Press it out into a flat rectangle, about 5” x 8”. This is just an approx., it does not have to be perfect.
Tightly roll your dough long ways into a log. Place in bread pan and set in a warm place to rise again for about 30 min.
Once the dough has risen, place it in the oven at 350*.
Let it cook about 40 min, or until golden brown on top and you can thump it and it sounds hollow.
Take bread out of oven and turn onto a clean towel to cool.
Try really hard to let cool before you slice it….sometimes we can do this…sometimes the temptation is just to strong!
Enjoy your beautiful, honest to goodness, homemade bread!
All these variations are done after you punch down you dough.
Remember playing with play dough as a kid? Those rolling skills will come in handy now!
Divide your dough into handful size amounts and roll into balls, place them side by side on a cookie sheet. Let rise for approx 30 minutes and bake at 350* for about 10-15 minutes. Perfect dinner rolls.
Hamburger Buns or Sandwich Rolls
Break off slightly larger than handful amounts of dough. One loaf of bread will make approx. 7-8 buns. Roll into a ball and place on a cookie sheet, flatten with your hand until they are about ½ inch thick and 3 inches wide. Place each bun with at least a ¼” space between them. Let rise 30 minutes and bake at 350* for 10-15 minutes. Slice in half when cooled and enjoy!
Hot Dog Buns:
These can be tricky, but they are really fun. Divide dough into slightly larger than handful. Roll dough into a long, hot-dog sized shape. Flatten with you hand until doubled in width and fold in half width ways. Set on Cookie sheet and allow to rise approx 30 min, bake at 350* for about 10-15 min.
We make wheat bread using the same recipe; only you add a few more steps.
We grind our own wheat. It looks like this before it is ground.
Pour your wheat into a wheat grinder. (I always do this out side, because ours is really noisy!)
Or you can just buy already ground wheat flour from your local grocery/health store. But, trust me, it’s much more rewarding to grind your own fresh, and it has a wonderful, nutty flavor that pre-ground wheat looses some how.
Once your wheat is ground, follow the recipe above, only using 1.5 cups wheat flour and 1.5 cups all purpose, non bleached four.
You also have the option of adding ¼ cup of wheat gluten to this recipe. It helps your bread rise up pretty and high. Add it in the beginning when mixing in your oil and honey.
Follow the rest of the instructions exactly the same as basic bread.
Now the fun part!
Once you have these basic recipes down, you can start experimenting with all kinds of fun breads. These additions are made when you add your first three ingredients to your yeast. These additions are measured for one loaf, multiply as needed for more than one loaf.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Garlic Herb Bread:
1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp of each of the following herbs: Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Basil
This one goes great with any Italian dish and is wonderful sliced up and made into Garlic bread
Parmesan and Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp, or to taste, Crushed Red Pepper flakes, and 1 tsp Garlic powder.
1 Tbs Dried Jalapeno
Sweet Cinnamon Bread:
This one is a little different. Make the basic bread recipe through the first rising stage. Punch down and roll out into a thin long rectangle no more than 1 inch thick and no more than 5 inches wide. The length doesn’t really matter. Once your dough is rolled out, spread fresh butter over surface and sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Roll dough up tight, making sure there are no air bubbles and fold the ends under. Place in bread pan to rise the second time as normal.
Note: On this one, you can also make this into really yummy cinnamon rolls by following the same steps.
Once you roll your dough, instead of putting it in the bread pan, use a sharp knife and slice the dough into 1 inch pieces. Place on a cookie sheet gently touching each other and let rise until double. Cook for about 15-20 minutes at 350*
While cooking, melt ¼ stick of butter, whisk in 2 cups of powdered sugar and a tsp of vanilla. If frosting is stiff, add a little milk until pour-able, but not runny. If you add too much milk, just add a little more powdered sugar until you get the right consistency.
When the rolls are finished baking, pull them out of the oven, and pour the frosting on top. Perfectly wonderful homemade cinnamon rolls!
As you can see, a couple of these got swiped before I could even snap a picture. They do not last long around here!