When I started making fresh homemade bread over 20 years ago, my primary motivation was to improve the health of my family. Immediately I realized that the love and the yum were two overwhelming factors that could not be ignored. For years my habit was to start the day twice a month by baking 12 loaves of bread. Little people would fill up the bar stools at my kitchen counter long before the timer would go off. A bread board complete with local butter and honey sat patiently awaiting the steaming hot loaves of bread. While the scent of yeast permeated the air, all eyes were on the loaves baking in the oven. Some might questions why I would need to make so much bread. Clearly, fresh hot bread is meant to be eaten immediately and shared with neighbors and friends. You cannot make bread and keep it to yourself. Few gifts are as appreciated as a loaf of warm bread and homemade jam. It is something you can give that cannot be bought.
For years people have asked to come sit on my bar stools and watch me make bread. I have freely shared my recipe and taught others to make my bread. Due to the high number of requests for instructions, I decided to share a video with the recipe along with tips for creating this delightful activity in your own kitchen.
This recipe allows you to use white flour that you can buy at the store or fresh ground whole wheat flour that you grind in your own mill. If you mimic my bread making, you will need a wheat grinder and a Bosch mixer that can handle the wheat flour. Both options are described. Choose what works best for you.
Leah’s Homemade Bread
Yields 3-4 loaves
6 cups hot water
3 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons of salt
12-14 cups of flour * (white flour or fresh ground wheat flour)
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup honey
Combine hot water, yeast, and one cup of flour and cover.
Set aside for 15 minutes to allow yeast to activate.
Oil four bread pans.
After 15 minutes, be sure that mixture is foaming to ensure that yeast has begun working.
Add salt, oil and honey. Mix for 30 seconds. Begin to add flour slowly while mixer is going. Add flour until dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. This process takes about 10 minutes. It is important to allow time for the dough to be kneaded with the dough hooks. This contributes to more air in the loaves of bread.
Transition dough from bowl to a floured counter.
Separate into four parts. Take each section and fold the dough into itself under the loaf in order to create a smooth pretty top.
Place each loaf section into a bread pan to rise. Let rise for an hour or more.
Preheat oven to 350. Place all four loaves in the center of one oven.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Cool for five minutes.
Serve with butter, jam or honey.
*A note about flour options:
Let me take just a moments and explain why I chose to go all in and grind my own wheat for all of our bread. My husband struggles with some core issues that improve with more fiber in his diet. Freshly ground whole wheat decreases the risk of some of the most significant killers in America such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, insomnia and celiac disease. Some studies suggest that both the development of asthma in children and gum disease may decrease with a higher intake of whole grains. Whole wheat is noticeably high in nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
Ultimately, refined grains are nutrient deficient while whole grains are dense in nutrients.
Regular white bread is made with refined grains, which go through a process that strips out certain parts of the grain along with some of the nutrients and fiber. The most significant differences between white bread and whole wheat are the processing and the nutritional value. Whole wheat flour freshly ground adds fiber, wheat germ, wheat germ oil and millings. Freshly ground wheat flour like you see in my video adds 30 nutrients that are missing in white flour. This difference convinced me decades ago to purchase the machines, wheat berries and invest the time in making homemade wheat bread for my family.
Grind your own wheat for the nutritional value. But more importantly, do it for the immense love of sharing warm bread with your family and friends. I promise, they will love it for the taste. They won’t care about all the goodness as much as they love the yum. I promise.
If you enjoy a visual explanation of breadmaking, take a look at this video.