Baking your own bread is great. It tastes better, only has natural ingredients, and can be ready when you want it. It also means you can have fresh bread if there is no artisanal bakery near you. I haven’t bought any bread in years, and always bake my own. It’s great with a breadmaker, since I can set it before I go to sleep and then wake up with freshly baked bread. The only drawback is the shape and the hole in the bottom where the paddle is. Now that I have a stand mixer, it is also easy to make it without the breadmaker. You could of course also knead it by hand if you enjoy the exercise.
My favorite bread to eat for breakfast or lunch is multigrain. I prefer white bread for dinner because it has a more neutral taste, but the multigrain bread has more fiber and is therefore better for our health. Baking 100% wholewheat bread can be difficult as the bread will often turn out as a brick rather than rising properly. Even professional bakers sometimes have problems if they don’t use all kinds of chemicals to ‘improve’ the bread. There is however a very simple way to make it easier: simply add some white flour. This will give the dough a better structure, allowing it to rise more easily. Something else that helps is to put a container with water in the oven so there will be humidity for better heat conduction and thus the risen bread will ‘set’ before it can collapse into a brick. The bread flours I use are enriched with vitamin C, something else that helps the bread to rise more reliably. You can add some vitamin C powder or a crumbled vitamin C tablet to the dough for the same effect.
If you don’t have multigrain mixed flour you can also substitute this with more wholewheat flour.
Homemade bread goes stale more quickly than store-bought bread because it doesn’t contain all those preservatives. It is therefore best when eaten fresh, or the day after. If you are feeding a crowd, the recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled if your stand mixer and oven are big enough.
200 grams (7 oz) wholewheat flour
150 grams (5.3 oz) multigrain mixed flour
150 grams (5.3 oz) white bread flour
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) warm water (about 40C/105F)
10 grams (2 tsp) salt
15 grams (3 tsp) sugar
25 grams (2 Tbsp) olive oil or softened butter plus more for greasing the pan
20 grams (.7 oz) fresh yeast, or 7 grams (2 1/2 tsp or .25 oz) dry yeast
Cover the dough with plastic wrap (you can transfer the dough to a bowl or just use the bowl of the stand mixer) and allow to rise in a warm place. The oven with only the light turned on is a very good spot for this.
Cover the dough with a kitchen cloth and allow to rise for the second time (this is called ‘proofing’) until doubled in volume. Again the oven with the light turned on is a great spot and again this will take about 1 hour.
When the dough has risen properly, keep it covered by the kitchen cloth and preheat the oven to 250C/480F (making sure to remove the dough from the oven first if allowing to rise in the oven). Handle the dough carefully, as it may collapse otherwise.
Put the bread in the oven and put a container with about 250 ml (1 cup) of water in the oven as well. Lower the oven temperature to 225C/440F and bake for 30 minutes. Check towards the end to prevent the top from burning. The bread will sound hollow when you tap on the bottom when it’s done.