It is so hard to buy bread with normal, everyday pantry ingredients. Even "healthy" or "organic" breads have long ingredient lists, preservatives, and/or a lot of added sugar. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and switch to making my own bread (with my own home-ground, preservative-free wheat). Seeing as I'm not an experienced baker, this became a task in and of itself. Then we added the fact that I was trying to learn how to make bread at a very high altitude (close to 7000 ft). After trying out multiple recipes, tinkering with my own measurements, and wasting many ingredients on unsuccessful loaves, I finally found what our family believes to be the perfect balance.
High Altitude White Wheat Bread
Serves: 6 | Active Prep Time: 25 minutes | Cook Time: 4 hours
1 3/4 cup warm water
3 T honey
3 T olive oil
5 cups white wheat flour (home-ground)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 egg (optional)
Measure yeast into a large mixing bowl, and then add warm water to the bowl. Let stand for about 10 minutes, and allow the yeast to get foamy and the water to get murky.
Add olive oil, honey and salt to the water/yeast mixture
Slowly add flour into the water mixture. If you grind your wheat in bulk and refrigerate it (like I do), simply measure the flour into a pot over medium-low heat to make sure it's nice and warm for the yeast. Remember to stir frequently and turn the heat off when it's warm to the touch.
Knead for 5-10 minutes or until dough comes together. The dough will be tacky but shouldn't be sticking to your hands/surfaces and making a huge mass. If that happens, add a light dusting of flour.
Oil a clean bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place (I place it on top of the the stove and then turn the oven on to 200° to ensure that it's warm no matter the season or temperature in my house) for about an hour or until doubled in size. I like to trace the outline of the dough on the plastic wrap with a marker, so I can see how much it's grown.
Squish the dough into the shape of the loaf pan and plop it in. The less you handle it at this point, the better
(Optional) In a small bowl, whisk one egg and then brush on top of the loaf to make a nice crust
Set your oven at 350°, and place the dough on the middle rack in the oven (yes, while it's heating up) for 45-50 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven and turn it out of the loaf pan onto a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes (or as long as you can stand to resist the smell!)
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