I first started making bread years ago, but it was always for special occasions or whenever I was in one of my manic "I am super Mom I can make bread everyday" moods! When I'm more level-headed it's painfully clear that I cannot make bread everyday for any length of time. Honestly, sometimes I'm not home when it needs to go into the oven. When my children were younger I had more control over when I was home and when I was out. However, my kids are getting older and have commitments that do not revolve around my baking bread. So I cheat! I use a bread maker.
From a prepping/self-reliance standpoint most of us cheat a little anyway. I mean we all still go to the grocery store. We all still use on-grid electricity. We all still drive a car with gas we bought last week. (And if you are completely self-reliant, off grid and have alternative fuel, God bless you, but don't email me because this post is about the rest of us). The truth is we're kind of caught between this world (the one we grew up in) and the one we think will be our future... at least I am. So I often walk the fence. I know how to make bread and I'm used to doing it, although my methods would have to change if we had a grid down situation Of course there are other reasons to make your own bread and grind your own wheat. The biggest being that you get a lot more nutritional bang for your buck in fresh ground homemade bread without the preservatives My bread goes bad in three days, which I consider a good thing, it doesn't have preservatives. I admit that my boys and I are spoiled because it really tastes kinda stale even after one day (we like our bread fresh). It's still fine for a grilled sandwich, though. There is a book that I read that has this quote in it, you might know it, "Give us our daily bread." Bread is supposed to be made daily.
Fresh Ground Whole Wheat Bread for a Bread Machine:
You will need:
600 grams (around 5 cups) fresh ground white wheat (my white wheat is from Honeyville)
2 t salt
1 1/2 T oil (sometimes I use canola, this time I used olive oil)
2 T molasses (you can use 2 T brown sugar for a lighter loaf)
3 T wheat gluten (mine is from Honeyville)
16 oz water
2 t yeast
Flour is tricky to measure by volume - no matter how carefully you measure you might get different results because flour packs down and scooping it only adds to the packing. I have measured flour by volume and my bread does not come out as good as when weigh it on a scale.
Measure out 3 T of wheat gluten, 2 t of yeast, and 2 t of salt. Because this bread is whole wheat and even more freshly ground whole wheat it needs a little help to come out right in a bread machine. You can mix the whole wheat with a bit of white bread flour if you like. (240 g bread flour and 350 g whole wheat) But if you're grinding your own wheat this seems like a step backward because you cannot grind wheat into bread flour with a home grinder. So the solution I came up with is to add a bit of wheat gluten. There are trade offs when using a bread machine. Mine is usually going in the wee hours of the morning so I'm not watching it rise, everything is timed whether the dough is ready or not. Sometimes you've got to "doctor" the dough so it'll be ready on the bread machine's time. Add the yeast on top of all the ingredients if you don't have a separate yeast compartment.
2 T molasses
1 1/2 T olive oil (Hint: add the oil before the molasses)
Add 16 oz water.
It will look like a big mess. But as one of my favorite chefs says, "your patience will be rewarded!"
I recommend getting a bread machine that has a yeast compartment. I had one that did not for years and it always had mixed results.
I program my bread machine every night to be done around 10am, just in time for the bread to cool for lunch. It's hard to tell but the display says 12 hours (not 2 hours). I really like this bread machine. It's not the most expensive but it's not the cheapest. You can find it here on amazon.
Come back at least 5 hours later and this is what you have.
Ready to cut bread.
I slice the loaf in half and then cut slices. (Yup, that's my poodle in the background with her eye on the loaf.)
My mom always used an electric knife to slice bread and I did too for a long time. But when you have to drag the thing out everyday it can be a bother. I just learned to use a good bread knife. It took me about two weeks to get the hang of it.
When you make your own bread the slices are not exactly like the sandwich bread you get at the grocery store but I think I do a pretty good job of getting them uniform.
This recipe makes one large loaf in most bread machines.