Monday, June 21, 2010

Bake Me Something Good... Homemade Bread - Step by Step

I love homemade bread. I bake bread, sometimes a couple of times, every week, so I thought I'd give a bread making tutorial. My husband is wondering why I'm sharing a recipe instead of a sewing project on my "sewing" blog... a valid question, but hoping you will find this useful as I do get asked for this recipe.

Warning: this post is picture heavy (I may have got carried away testing out my new digital camera).

Can I tempt you you into giving this easy, yummy bread recipe a try?...
Oatmeal Whole Grain Bread

1 &3/4 cup boiling water

3/4cup rolled oats

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)

1 & 1/2 tsp. sea salt
Combine all these ingredients into a medium sized, heat proof bowl. While this mixture is cooling, start your yeast in a small bowl.
1/2 cup warm water (between 90 to 115 F is the optimal temp)

1 Tbsp. dry activated yeast

2 tsp. sugar OR 1 tsp. honey/agave syrup/maple syrup (I usually use one of these & not sugar)
*** Sprinkle the yeast into the water AFTER you have stirred the sweetener in. Do not "dump" the yeast in as it will clump in the water. You want the individual grains to each be moistened, so that's why you should sprinkle the yeast in.***
This is how the yeast will look if you sprinkle it into the sweetened water. Note that some grains are floating, while others sank to the bottom.
Let the yeast ferment for up to 10 minutes. It will foam up as it feeds off the sugar. You want it to do this. If your yeast doesn't do this after several minutes, you may need to start this step over. I've had the yeast fail to ferment for different reasons. Here are some to consider:

1. water temp. was too hot (killed the yeast)

2. water temp. was too cold and the yeast won't respond

3. the yeast itself may be too old (past its use by date)

4. used water that was too chlorinated (killed the yeast)
Once the yeast has fermented, you are ready to add it to the first bowl of ingredients (containing the now softened rolled oats).
Stir this all together with a wooden spoon, to mix it well.
Now you're ready to start adding flour!

I use whole wheat flour OR whole grain spelt flour with equally successful results.
Start by stirring in 2 cups of flour, mixing it thoroughly. Then continue adding flour at the rate of a 1/2 cup at a time - stirring with each addition.
The dough will get stiffer with each addition of flour. Mix with the spoon until it's too difficult to manage and then you'll be mixing the flour into the dough with your hand.
I use the heel of my hands to work the flour into the dough.
You can't overwork bread dough, so don't be shy! You really want to push down with the heel of your hand to get the flour worked into the dough. Do not add more flour until your hands start sticking to the dough - otherwise you may find you've added more flour than you actually need.
I usually find that in total I may have used 4-5 cups of whole wheat or whole spelt flour to make the dough. I stop adding flour when the dough is just slightly sticky to touch.
Now that you have a firm and slightly sticky dough formed from all that kneading, you are ready to shape the dough into a ball. After forming it into a ball, put a good tablespoon's worth of olive oil (or vegetable oil) into the bottom of your mixing bowl. Roll the dough in the oil to give a nice coating to keep it from sticking to the bowl and the covering cloth while it rises.
I like to set my dough on top of my stove (burners are all off, of course!) to rise until the dough doubles in size (apprx. 45 - 60minutes). It's important to cover the dough for this step and to keep it in a warm, draft free spot.

Below, you can see I have two batches of this bread rising at the same time - in two different sized bowls.
This is my dough when it's risen to roughly double its original size.
A closer view shows the dough has expanded in size and is ready to be formed into loaves.
Before handling my dough, I prepare my bread pans. I liberally brush olive oil over the sides and bottom of my bread pans before putting the dough into them.
Using a sharp knife, I cut the dough into equal halves, as this recipe makes enough for 2 loaves.
I stretch each portion of the dough lengthwise and then fold up each short end.
Next, I fold the long edges towards the middle pressing the dough in on itself and covering up the fold I first made on the short ends.
The underside of the loaf is the side which I have been folding and pressing under. When you turn the dough over, you will see that it looks smooth and rounded in comparison. This rounded side will be the top of your loaf, when placed in the loaf pan.
Here's my dough, shaped into loaves and placed into the greased pans.
Once again, I place the dough to rise on the top of my stove. On really cool days, I have my oven set on about 200F to give extra warmth and encourage the dough to rise. It's again important to cover the dough with a clean cloth and leave it undisturbed for the time it takes to rise.
After an hour of rising, this is what my loaves looked like. In the final 10 minutes of rising, I preheat my oven to 350F.

(Again, I'm showing loaves made from 2 batches of dough).
Bake the loaves on the middle rack of the oven at 350F for 35minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on baking racks.

Carefully remove the loaves from the pans.

Enjoy! **Pyrex pans seem to need time to cool a bit before bread can successfully be removed from them. A little time with the pans set on their sides, like I show above, allows condensation to form, which in turn makes the loaves easy to remove from the pans.


  1. It's all thanks to you that I make bread, you know. :-)
    This recipe looks so delicious! I'm definitely going to try it with the spelt flour.

    Love the photos as well! You can almost smell the bread (which is one of the best smells out there!)

  2. Yummmy...I'm feeling rather hungry now!!

  3. The bread looks really yummy. I might give this recipe a try as my son is on a dairy free/soy free, among other things free diet and am struggling to find bread he can eat as most contain soy flour. Thanks for sharing this even though its a sewing blog.

  4. Oh my, that looks delicious!!!!


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