Nothing beats the smell or taste of freshly baked bread! It's probably one of my favourite things in the world! I know a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of baking bread from scratch, so I've posted a step-by-step recipe with photos that will hopefully show that it is really so easy! All you need is are some simple ingredients, a few hours, and some patience, and then you can enjoy the aroma and taste of warm, crusty bread right from your own oven. This bread is perfect for making sandwiches, or just enjoyed on it's own smeared with butter and jam or honey.
1 and 1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups all-purpose flour
Combine the warm water, yeast, and honey in a large bowl. Stir with a spoon to dissolve the yeast and allow the mixture to sit until the top becomes foamy. This will take about 10 minutes.
Once the yeast mixture is foamy, stir in the olive oil and salt. Then, stir in the 1 and 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour.
Begin to add in the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough becomes clumpy and you can no longer stir it with a spoon. You won't be able to add in all of the all-purpose flour in this step, just add flour until you can no longer stir.
Lightly flour a countertop or clean surface and turn the ball of dough and any little stray bits of dough from the bowl out onto it. Begin to knead in the rest of the all-purpose flour until the dough comes together and is no longer sticky. Depending on the moisture content of your environment and your flour, you may not need to use all 3 cups of the all-purpose flour. (Note: I only used about 2 and 1/4 cups to get to the right texture of dough). Just add flour and keep kneading until you have soft, elastic dough that is not sticky. Knead the ball of dough for about 3-5 minutes by applying pressure with the heel of your palm and rotating the dough in 1/4 turns.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Loosely cover the bowl with a dish towel and place it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. This will take about 45 minutes. To create a nice warm environment for the dough to rise in, I like to turn my oven on for about a minute just to get it warmed up, then turn it off and place the bowl of dough inside.
After the first rise, remove the dough ball from the bowl and shape it into a log the length of your bread pan. Coat the bread pan with non-stick cooking spray or oil and place the dough inside. (Note: I should have used a bigger bread pan because my bread expanded much more than the loaf pan I used. This didn't affect the taste of the bread at all, but I would use the bigger pan for a more uniform, appealing appearance next time).
Cover the bread with a dish towel, place it in a warm environment, and allow the dough to rise again until it has doubled in size. This will take about another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut a long slit in the top of the dough with a serrated bread knife or sharp knife to allow for expansion during baking.
Once the oven is heated, bake the bread for 30 minutes, until the top is deep golden brown. (Note: The top of my bread got a little more browned than I would have liked (didn't taste burnt though!), so next time I make this recipe I will keep a closer eye on it towards the end of baking time and maybe remove it after 27-28 minutes instead of the full 30. Every oven is different so you may need to watch the bread in the last 5 minutes of baking and play around with the time a bit if you want a perfectly browned top). Remove the bread from the pan immediately and allow it to cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Store bread in an airtight container or plastic bag on the countertop, or in the refrigerator to prolong its shelf life. Make sure the bread has cooled completely before placing it in the plastic bag and/or the refrigerator, otherwise it will form condensation and cause the bread to become soggy.
*Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes