Classic Homemade Bread Recipes You'll Love

Here are three easy-to-follow recipes for the most delectable homemade breads you're likely to taste!
By Clara Watkins
January/February 1977
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 From left to right: Images from the recipes of basic bread, honey wheat bread and onion bread. 
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


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Basic Bread

(Makes two loaves)  

2 packages of active dry yeast
2 tablespoons of salt
7 cups of unsifted, unbleached white flour
2 1/4 cups of milk
1/2 cup of honey
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 stick of margarine
1/4 cup of peanut oil

Combine the yeast and salt with two cups of flour in a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk, honey, eggs, margarine, and oil together in a saucepan until the margarine has melted.  Then add the warm (but not hot) blend to the bowl containing the yeast, salt, and flour. Beat until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed (30 seconds at low speed and three minutes at medium, if you're using an electric mixer). By hand, stir in enough extra flour (approximately five cups) to form a soft dough. Knead the dough on a floured breadboard until a satiny finish has developed (about one minute), then place the big ball in a greased bowl, cover, and set in a warm (about 110° F) spot. When the dough has risen to double its original size (about 45 minutes), punch it down and knead it for five minutes. Afterwards, divide the sponge in half, shape it Into two loaves, and place them in buttered or greased pans. (Vegetable oil is not recommended, as it will cause the finished bread to stick to the pan.) Cover the loaves with a dish towel, set them in a warm place to rise, and—when they've doubled in size—bake them In a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes or until they've turned deep brown in color and sound hollow when lightly tapped. (HIGH ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: At 5,000-foot elevation, bake this bread in a 375° oven for 35 to 40 minutes.)

Honey Wheat Bread

(Makes one large loaf)  

1 package of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of warm water
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of shortening 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 1/4 cups of water
4 1/2 cups of unsifted whole wheat flour
1 egg

Dissolve the yeast in a quarter cup of warm water and set the solution aside. Heat the honey, shortening, salt, and remaining water together in a saucepan until the shortening has melted, cool till lukewarm. Then combine the tepid mixture with the yeast in a large bowl. Now add one and a half cups of whole wheat flour and the egg to the liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in enough extra wheat flour (about three cups) by hand to form a stiff dough, then turn the dough out onto a floured breadboard and knead until it's smooth and elastic. Transfer the mass to a greased bowl, turn once (to coat the dough's surface with oil), and set in a warm place. When the sponge has doubled in size, punch it down, then shape it into a ball and allow it to stand for 10 minutes. Afterwards, form the mass into a loaf, place the loaf in a well-greased baking pan, cover with a dish towel, and let stand in a warm place until the sponge has doubled in size. Finally, bake the loaf in a preheated 375°F oven for 40 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Onion Bread for the Onion Lover

(Makes one large loaf)  

For dough:
1 package of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of warm water
4 cups of unbleached, unsifted white flour
1/4 cup of honey
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1/2 cup of hot water
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup (one half stick) of soft butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten

For filling:
1/2 cup (one stick) of butter or margarine
1 cup of finely chopped onion (or 1/4 cup of instant minced onion)
1 tablespoon of sesame or poppy seeds
1 tablespoon of grated cheese (Parmesan is best)
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
1 teaspoon of paprika

To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in a quarter cup of warm water in a large mixing bowl. Then add two cups of flour—and all the remaining dough ingredients—to the bowl, and blend at low speed (or by hand) for two minutes (or until everything is well mixed). Stir in enough extra flour—roughly two cups—to form a soft dough. Cover the bowl, set in a warm spot, and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size (45 minutes to an hour). Afterwards, punch the dough down, toss it on a floured board until it's no longer sticky, and roll the elastic mass out to a 12-by-19-inch rectangle. Next, melt a stick of butter or margarine in a saucepan add the other filling ingredients to the pan, and stir. Spread this oniony "sauce" out over the rectangular piece of dough, cut the rectangle lengthwise into three 4-by-18-inch strips, and—starting along the 18 inch side—roll up each strip. Pinch the ends closed, ace the three 18 inch-long "ropes" buttery seams down on a well-greased cookie sheet, and braid them together. Then cover and let rise until the dough is light and double in size (45 minutes to an hour). Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the braided loaf is golden brown.


Clare Watkins—who sent these excellent recipes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS says, "My instructions can be changed to suit your individual taste. I've found—and no doubt you will too—that by tasting the dough periodically, it's possible to tell when more of any one ingredient is needed. The important thing is, feel free to experiment. Also, Id like to point out that you don't need a regular three-inch by five-inch by nine-inch loaf pan to bake good bread. Any old pan will work, and the final product will taste the same." So what are you waiting for? Round up your ingredients preheat your oven, break out your best pie pans . . . and bake your own hot bread!


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