My friend posted this on her blog awhile back. And, I have to agree, this is the best bread. Now, I was eager to try this recipe for the following reasons:
* I love bread
* I love homemade bread even better
* I used to make a lot of bread with our dinners, but haven't in a long time
* As a part of my decluttering, I've been debating if I really need our bread machine. I love it. I do. But I only used it to make the dough anyway. I didn't like making the bread in the machine and how it came out so boxy. I have a KitchenAid but have never ever ever used it to make bread. While visiting friends in Utah a year or so ago, this came up, and I was informed how easy it is. So, this recipe gave me to go-ahead to try it out. And you know what folks? It is. It's super easy to use a mixer to make your bread dough, and I feel so happy knowing that I am going to get rid of a piece of well-used kitchen equipment. Thank you Marci for getting it for us for our wedding because I truly used it a ton. But, after 5 years, I may be ready to move on. (I think. It's still packed away, so we'll see when I actually pull it out again if I can part with it.)
So, here's the Best Bread. Give it a try. As Campbell's would say, it's mmm mmm good.
Combine in mixing bowl:
2.5 cups very warm water (I use 2 cups of hottest H2O from tap and 1/2 c. room temp water)
3 c. freshly ground whole wheat flour
1 T plus 1 t. yeast
1 T wheat gluten (I've never included this actually -- but I haven't ground my own wheat yet. That may make a difference.)
Stir just until mixed and let mixture stand 10 minutes
1/3 C half canola oil, half applesauce
1/3 C honey
1 T. lemon juice (no need to be fresh)
1 T sea salt
3 1/2 - 4 C whole wheat flour
1 T dough enhancer (I have also never added this)
*additional ingredients can be added or subbed for some of the flour: flax meal, millet, oat bran, nuts, etc.
1. Knead bowl of mixer (with dough hooks) for 10 minutes. Do not add any additional flour until the end. The dough will look sticky and you'll think, "I need more flour" but wait and it will form a ball. At the end of kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, but not stick to your hands. Adjust as needed. Use a little flour to lightly coat the dough, and pull out of the bowl.
2. Immediately divide the dough into two equal portions, and knead each loaf for 30 seconds forming a loaf with no creases.
3. Place each loaf into a greased and floured pan. Let rise approx 40 min. (until just above the lip of the pan) Make sure you preheat your oven according to when you estimate your bread being ready to put in the oven. (this is critical, bread needs to go in preheated oven...if it is too risen, it will be airy and fall apart, but if not risen enough it will be dense and cakey)
4. Bake bread at 350 for approx 30 minutes. When you tap the top of the bread, it should sound hollow.
5. Remove bread from pan and onto a cooling rack immediately. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into it and eating a big buttery piece, and let cool completely before bagging (no sweating inside the bag).
*Notes from Courtney: I didn't have the gluten or dough enhancer at first, so I used white bread flour instead. It has an higher level of gluten and results in a better bread. So, if you don't want to track down those extras, just use bread flour. My next step is to get a wheat grinder so I can use the freshly ground wheat flour for the most nutritious bread. (Something that makes Sam sad. He likes white bread and would probably choose Wonder bread if given the option.) Wheat begins losing its nutrients as soon as you grind it, so the fresher the flour the better.