A few months ago, once the weather turned colder, I decided to try making my whole wheat bread with a standing mixer and oven instead of a bread machine. Now that I had proven to myself that I was actually going to make all of our own bread, I was willing to invest in some equipment. Making my bread using a mixer and oven has several advantages over making bread in a bread machine:
- My bread machine was one of the final holdouts of Teflon in my kitchen, and its nonstick coating was already showing signs of wear. Now I make plastic-free bread by mixing the dough in a stainless steel bowl and baking the bread in my glass Pyrex loaf pans.*
- By using a mixer and oven, I have greater flexibility in the cooking process. For example, if the weather is cold and the bread is rising more slowly, I allow the bread a longer rise.
- I can make several loaves of bread at once (and freeze most of the loaves), instead of a loaf of bread every few days.
- A loaf of bread made in a loaf pan in the oven is just more aesthetically pleasing than the loaves that come out of the bread pan of a bread machine. And now that I have mastered the mixer/oven method, it will be easy to use the dough for other things, like rolls.
*For those who are considering using or who are already using a bread machine with nonstick coating to bake homemade bread, keep in mind that commercially baked bread is most likely baked in nonstick bake ware with a Teflon coating too. Baking your own bread in a bread machine, even one coated with Teflon, is still a step in the right direction (greater control over ingredients, fresher bread, less packaging and waste, and so on). I also have not gotten rid of my bread machine. In the hot summer months, when I can’t bear to turn on my oven, I will probably resort to using my bread machine in the garage to make fresh bread.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread, 2 Loaves
2 ¼ - 2 ½ cups milk (I’ve used whole, 2%, or soy), lukewarm
- In a standing mixer, mix milk, yeast, oil, honey, salt, gluten and 5 cups whole wheat flour (5 ½ cups if you are not using gluten) until well combined. Then continue kneading on level “2” (on Kitchenaid standing mixer) for 5-10 minutes. You may want to stop mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides.
- Let sit 2 minutes. Then add 1-2 more cups whole wheat flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time) until the dough pulls away from sides of the bowl and forms a ball, but still sticks to the bottom of the ball some.
- Cover dough (I use a plate) and let rise 1-2 hours until double in size.
- Butter and flour 2 loaf pans (I use Pyrex 8.5” pans - which I can wash in the dishwasher after using). Knead very briefly to press out air bubbles and form 2 logs/loaves on floured or oiled surface and place in pans. Cover with lightweight towel and allow to rise 1-2 more hours, until dough crests a couple of inches over the edge of the pan. If the dough starts to fall, you let it go too long, and that’s about all I can tell you.
- Heat oven to 350. Bake bread 30-40 minutes, until 190 degrees internally. After about 15 or 20 minutes, lightly cover the bread with foil to avoid over-browning the top.
- Allow bread to thoroughly cool before slicing.