We have been baking this recipe for almost a year now and its something that at first was too dense and then broke a part all the time and wasn't actually great for sandwiches, and then, I went back, tweaked some things, and voila! We have been enjoying and loving this version for months and months! It is kid approved, husband approved, sugar free, and could easily be made dairy free as the only dairy product I used was butter, so you could substitute your butter substitute of choice in and Im sure it would still taste great. Its also a very forgiving bread-- trust me, I am always making this with several things going on and it just kind of goes and flows with us. So, lets begin shall we? You will need for the whole process 6 cups of wheat flour, 6 cups of warm water (split 5 and 1 for different stages) a whole stick of butter (split 6 and 2 tbs for various steps), 4 and a half tsp of yeast, about a 1/4 cup of honey-- dont stress yourself over measuring out the honey-- its sticky and its better to eyeball it as it cant hurt one way or the other, 1 cup of flaxseed (golden, ground, etc.-- Ive used it all and they all work) and 6-7 cups of bread flour.
Start with 6 cups of wheat flour. Measure it out in one big measuring bowl.
Place the dough hook on your mixer. If you dont have a dough hook, place dough in a big, I mean BIG mixing bowl and get a nice big spoon and roll up your sleeves. You got this...
Add in the flax and start mixing (if you want to omit the flax, you can and it will still be okay).
Now add in 5 warm cups of water. Keep mixing. Even with the mixer I still need to get a spoon and give it all a good stir. Once its all soaked, let it sit.
While that soaks, move onto your sponge.
First, I begin to warm my honey up. In warmer months or when it hasn't been in the fridge, I can skip this step, but alas, its getting chillier so I just heat it on the stove till its pourable.
Now, get that last cup of warm water. Add your 4 and a half tsp. of active yeast-- not instant yeast-- please don't use that! Just regular yeast. Now add a nice dollop of honey and gently stir. Now.... walk away. Do something else. We actually read our devotions and really God is so cool-- here was where we were at in 1 Corinthians-- 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Isn't that cool? Love how God works and orchestrates our school days and all our waking moments when we submit them to Him! So after breakfast was cleaned up and the baby was down for his nap, I went back and checked on our sponge.
If my sponge mixture was at the 1 cup line before, it was now at the 2-- almost 2 and a half. If you do this on an especially humid day it will really foam! Now its time to melt 6 tbs of butter.
While that melts, add a dollop of honey into your flour mixture.
Add your butter and sponge mixture and start mixing. Get your bread flour out.
I add one cup at a time and slowly mix it in. If you add it to fast or too much at once youll get flour all over the place. Up in the mixer, around the dough hook-- trust me, I've learned the hard way. Normally when 4-5 cups are in, I stop the mixer. I take the bowl off and then sprinkle a good amount across the top. If you ever over add flour, you would just add a teeny bit of water or start kneading and it will all kind of balance out. Its fixable so no worries.
Now its time to roll up your sleeves and get to kneading. A big shout out to my 8 year old who tested out his photog skills as I was up to my knuckles in dough, so if you see both of my hands in a picture, then the credit is due him! I think he did a great job!
I know when you knead your bread, they always reccomend a time but thats just not right. You knead till its smooth and elasticky. Not too sticky and not to dry-- just right. If you keep going it will get stickier and then you have to keep adding in flour, so when it feels smooth and transportable, movie it to a well buttered bowl.
It never takes one set time for your bread to rise-- various temps. of your home will make it go faster or slower. Just stay close and keep an eye on it. I taught an art lesson on drawing pumpkins...
then I fed the baby, did some more school work, showed a serviceman where a certain problem was, and then came back and saw my dough was about to overflow! So, i floured my surface again, buttered my bread loaves, and brought the bowl over.
Roll it out and then roll it up-- I was a little too fast here, so my son missed the rolling out picture. You want to make sure your table and rolling pin are nicely floured. So, here we go with the larger loaves.
Cut your giant dough ball in half.
Roll each half (or quarter) into a nice rectangle the length of your pan. Roll it up and them place the tube into its pan.
Then cover the loaves and let the dough rise again.
After an hour at least, pre heat your oven to 350 degree. Bake the loaves for 40 minutes. Prepare to have the overwhelmingly intoxicating smell of bread infuse your home. MMMMmmmmmm.
At exactly 40 minutes your bread is done. Take it out and then tap it out of the pans. Turn it back right side up and smother the tops with butter. This keeps the tops from getting crusty. Allow to sit for a good few hours before cutting the bread. This allows it to firm up. I finished the bread at two and other than the piece I cut for the picture, I have yet to finish cutting it and its the evening now (I will do so after I'm done this).
Get a good bread knife-- this helps you to get nice even pieces.
Once cut, I place it in big ziploc bags. It freezes very nicely and I normally put at least one bag in the freezer in hopes that we won't need it to the next week. The rest I keep in the fridge-- there are no preservatives, so you need to keeep it cold or frozen to keep it from going bad as it does have a shorter pantry life than store bread. Now, enjoy!
"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."