With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to share my all-time favorite bread recipe. If you don’t have a bread machine or fancy equipment, don’t worry! If you’re like me when I first started baking, you might be wondering, “How do you make bread without a bread machine?” It’s just a few steps with simple ingredients that produce the most satisfying loaves of bread.
An easy recipe for Homemade Honey Whole Wheat Bread
- 3 cups organic whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons organic molasses
- 1/3 cup organic honey
- 1/4 cup organic oil (use a lightly flavored oil that does well in baking; coconut oil is great for this)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast (or 4-1/2 teaspoons)
- 2-1/4 cups warm water (not hot, 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a thermometer)
- 3 to 4 cups organic all-purpose flour
- organic butter, optional
- Turn oven to warm. As soon as the oven is preheated, turn it off and leave door closed.
- Mix whole wheat flour, molasses, honey, oil, salt, and yeast on low.
- Add warm water and mix on low for one minute, scraping bowl frequently.
- Beat on medium speed one minute, scraping bowl frequently.
- With mixer on low, add in all-purpose flour one cup at a time until dough is easy to handle and begins to pull away from the bowl.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Coat a large glass or metal bowl with oil or butter.
- Place the dough in the bowl and cover with oil/butter by turning the dough over in the bowl until coated.
- Spray oil on plastic wrap and cover the bowl. Add towel on top of plastic wrap.
- Place the bowl in the oven to let the dough rise for 40 minutes or until volume of dough doubles. (Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.)
- Spray 2 cookie cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
- Punch down dough and divide in half.
- Working with one half of the dough, divide it into 3 equal portions.
- Form each of the three portions into long skinny loaves the length of the cookie sheet.
- Place the 3 loaves side by side and braid together. Turn ends under on each side and press down to form smooth, rounded ends.
- Brush lightly with butter, if desired.
- Repeat with other half of dough.
- Cover with oiled plastic wrap and towel. Return to oven to rise another 35 minutes (or until doubled).
- Remove the loaves from the oven and move rack to lowest position.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until bottom crust is dark, golden brown and top crust is light, golden brown.
- Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on wire rack.
If you’d rather make dinner rolls, this recipe will yield 24. Just grease the muffin tins and divide the dough somewhat evenly. You’ll let the dough rise, as above, and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until light, golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and allow to cool on wire rack.
Bread Making Tips:
- Use organic ingredients when available. Click here to find out why.
- Try grinding your own wheat for an extra touch of freshness.
- My bread is made using a stand mixer. You can, of course, mix by hand. It’s just going to take longer.
- Make sure the water is not too hot. If you don’t feel comfortable sticking your finger in it, it’s too hot. It will kill the yeast if it’s too hot. When in doubt, it’s better for the water to be on the cooler side, because this just means the dough will take a little longer to rise. Also, make sure your yeast is not expired or it won’t work.
- Finding a warm spot to let dough rise: I know that most real bakers and amazing cooks will say to let your bread rise on the counter in a warm, kitchen and to NEVER place your bread to rise in the oven. But some of us have drafty, open kitchens where bread really doesn’t rise well. Also, I don’t have the counter space to let my bread rise on the counter, so that advice doesn’t really work for me either. Another option is to let the bread rise covered in the laundry room after it’s warm and toasty from a few loads. Again, not an option for everyone but a good tip for some! The oven rising method has always worked well for me. I hope you can find the method that works well for you!
- Kneading is not complicated. The good thing about this recipe is that it would be really difficult to knead the dough too much. I just flour the counter and flour my hands. This is to keep the dough from sticking. Then I fold the dough over on itself like I’m folding it in half. Then I press down. I turn the dough 90 degrees (1/4 turn) and repeat the folding, pressing, turning. That’s it. It does help me if the counter/tabletop I’m working on is around waist level. That way I use my whole body to do the pressing instead of just my arms. You’ll want to keep a little flour around to keep the work surface dusted.
I once thought that yeast breads were too difficult and kneading was torture. But after tasting the results from this recipe I was converted. My favorite thing to serve with this bread is homemade chili, but Thanksgiving turkey is a nice complement as well. I hope you agree and feel comfortable impressing your Thanksgiving guests with this homemade Honey Whole Wheat Bread.
When they ask, “How do you make bread so delicious from scratch without a bread machine?” you’ll have a great answer! Unless, of course, you want to keep this a secret!
So how do YOU make bread? What’s your secret to homemade, scratch baking? Please feel free to share your favorite bread recipe so we can all enjoy!