I come from a bread family. All while I was growing up, my Grandma owned a bakery, where she taught bread-making classes and sold Bosch mixers. I loved that little shop. It smelled sooooo good!
As all of us cousins got older and started getting married, we’d all pitch in and buy the bride and groom a brand new Bosch (with Grandma’s discount, of course!) Such a fun tradition. So, I have always made bread using Grandma’s recipes and my Bosch, but a KitchenAid mixer or other large capacity mixer will do just fine, too.
Start by pouring 5 Cups warm water, 2/3 cup cooking oil, 1/3 cup honey, and 1/3 cup molasses into the mixing bowl, with the mixer arm attachment in place. I measure out my oil, honey, and molasses in the same measuring cup. I put the oil in first, which keeps the honey and molasses from sticking to the cup, and everything pours out easy-peasy!
Then add to the liquid: 1/2 Cup white flour, 1 Tbsp. dough enhancer (super important!), 2 Tbsp. salt (YES, Tablespoons!) and 7 Cups whole wheat flour. If you can grind your flour fresh, that’s awesome! If not, King Arthur’s brand flour is my favorite store brand, but any brand will work just fine (trying to keep my bread-snobbery in check!!) Mix this all together on low for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. It will be a nice, spongy consistancy.
Add 3-4 Tbsp. active dry yeast. Mix in the yeast, scraping down the sides again as necessary. Now, with the mixer running on low, add more flour–one cup at a time–until the dough is cleaning the sides of the bowl. I start with 2 Cups of white flour, just to add a little more softness to the dough, then switch to wheat flour for the rest. It takes about 6 Cups of flour here (in addition to the 7 Cups already in there!) to get the dough cleaning the sides.
See how the dough has pulled together, away from the sides of the bowl? The minute it does that, you are done adding flour! So watch carefully, but it will be about 13 total Cups of flour. You can start adding flour just 1/2 Cup at a time toward the end, if it helps you see the change more easily!
Now, turn the mixer up to medium speed, and let it knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy when you pull it, like bubble gum. This takes about 10 minutes for me.
So, after 10 minutes, turn off the mixer, grease your fingers with a little cooking oil, grab some dough, and pull. It shouldn’t clump away, but should stretch nicely. This tells you that the gluten (which is the protein in flour that gives bread such a gorgeous texture!) is fully developed.
Turn the dough out onto a greased surface (butter, Crisco, or coconut oil work well for greasing hands, counters, and loaf pans). Divide it into 5 equal sections. I use my food scale to get them pretty close to equal.
I use 4 of these sections for bread, and one of them to make scones for dinner! That way, I’m never baking bread and making dinner on the same day. That would be overkill! Grease your hands and shape your loaves like logs. They should be an even thickness throughout. Not like a hotdog, where they get skinnier at the ends. And not like a dog bone, where they are skinny in the middle and fat at the ends.
Then place the dough loaves in well-greased 9×4 loaf pans. I finally bought silicone loaf pans, but for years I used metal ones, and they work fine! Let the dough rise until about double in size, which will take around 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of the kitchen. Here’s the pre- and post-rise dough:
When the dough has risen, bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. I really like using the “convection” setting on my oven for bread baking. It keeps the air circulating with a fan, for more even baking. When the bread has finished baking, remove the loaves from the loaf pans immediately to cool. Otherwise, steam will collect in the pans, causing the bread to get soggy.
Let the bread cool
completely for as long as you can possibly wait before slicing. Mmmm, the smell is heavenly! Store cooled bread in gallon-sized ziplocks or empty bread bags from store-bought loaves. It freezes very well!
Grandma’s Honey Whole Wheat Bread
5 C warm water
2/3 C cooking oil
1/3 C honey
1/3 C molasses
1/2 C white flour
1 Tbsp. dough enhancer
2 Tbsp. salt
7 C whole wheat flour
Mix above ingredients in a large mixer with the dough hook attachment on low speed for about 2 minutes, until it’s a spongy texture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add 3-4 Tbsp. dry yeast and mix well.
With the mixer running on low, add flour 1 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. This will be about 6 additional cups of flour, or about 13 cups of flour, total. Turn mixer speed up to medium and knead dough until smooth and stretchy, about 10 minutes.
Turn dough out onto greased countertop and divide into 5 equal portions. Form each portion into a loaf (or set one aside for scones) and place in a greased 9×4 loaf pan. Allow the dough to rise until double in size, about 30 minutes. Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Remove loaves from loaf pans immediately to cool. Wait until moderately cool to slice bread. Wait until completely cool to store bread. Enjoy!!