I’ve always enjoyed cooking, it’s something I’ve considered a serious hobby. I delight in making delicious and attractive food. I’ve also prided myself on my ability to learn to use new types of food from whatever area we happen to be living. When we lived in the south I learned to cook okra, hush puppies, and pulled pork. When we lived in Okinawa I utilized kabocha, bitter melon, and a variety of interesting mushrooms and sea vegetables in surprising ways to create western-style dishes.
So when we moved to Northern Idaho last year, I knew my cooking would take on a new life. I would have to learn how to make more things from scratch, teach myself to use diverse meats (goat and rabbit were a unique addition), eat more seasonally (I’m nowhere near perfect with this), prepare what is on hand or in the garden, and creatively employ the herbs we have growing in our guilds. We get fresh goat’s milk daily and eggs when our hens decide to lay (that’s another post) and it’s such a blessing to have an entire freezer filled with only meat from our permafarm and our larder filled with many home-canned items. Armed with basic cooking know-how and determination, I set forth.
One of the first goals I made when I moved here last year was to start baking all my own bread and other baked goods. Making bread was not new to me, I’ve done it off and on over the years, but making all our bread items was new to me. It’s a lot of pressure when I had five children who needed a sandwich and I forgot to make bread the day before — thank goodness for biscuits!
Because we got through so many loaves each week (about eight), every day I am very grateful for my Bosch Universal Plus mixer. I would consider this one of the top five most-used appliances in my kitchen.
The beauty of the Bosch is its strong motor. It can handle eight 2-pound loaves of whole-wheat bread at a time. This is a huge bonus unless you enjoy daily bread baking using a smaller counter-top mixer or prefer to do it by hand, and that’s not me.
I do know that if we lose power or no longer have access to cheap energy this will be one of the first things to be put on a shelf since my arms can do the work without electricity; however, while we still have the conveniences available to us, I will use it and recommend it to anyone who is transitioning from a life in the city to a “simpler” homestead life. This will save you hours of labor and give you fabulous loaves of bread!
Here’s my recipe I use to make 4 two-pound loaves of Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread.
• 3 tbsp yeast
• 4 cups very warm water
• 1/2 cup oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
• 6 tbsp sugar/honey/maple syrup/other sweetener of your choice
• 2 tbsp salt (I use pink Himalayan)
• 10-12 cups of whole wheat flour (hint: if you grind your own wheat do it the day before so it has time to settle before measuring. I also recommend using hard white wheat for this loaf but feel free to experiment with hard red varieties)
1. Put all ingredients in your mixing bowl, knead on speed 3 for 6-10 minutes. About 1 minute in I check the consistency, if it is VERY sticky I add a little more flour. Keep checking to make sure it’s pulling away from the sides. Do not put too much flour, you can always add more later.
2. After kneading, let it rest and rise with the lid on for 10 min. During this time I grease four bread pans and preheat the oven to 400.
3. Punch down (I just run the mixer a few times), and form the dough into four equal loaves (I use a kitchen scale to make sure they’re even but it’s not necessary), slice the top of each loaf with a very sharp knife, and brush it with egg wash if you like a crispy, shiny crust.
4. Cover and let rise until double, this can go quickly depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Bake until top is browned and sounds hollow when you tap it. I usually bake mine for about 25 minutes.
This is my basic loaf of sandwich bread that is very simple and extremely consistent. If your loaves don’t turn out how you want them to the first time, keep trying, bread-making takes a little bit of practice; it’s both an art and a science! Next time I’ll introduce you to another one of the appliances I don’t want to live without in The Prepared Homestead Kitchen!
Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and strategies for the property. The property will eventually become a demonstration and education site where they raise dairy goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. The Mitzels have planted more then 50 productive trees and enjoy wildcrafting, propagating mushrooms, and raising and training livestock guardian dogs. Listen to The Courageous Life Podcast and read all their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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