Who doesn’t love the smell of bread baking in your oven? I even like snitching the dough (which completely grosses some of my friends out), and I especially like that elemental and empowering feeling of making bread for my family. (It makes me feel like I am ROCKING that housewife role!) What I don’t like is being interrupted by urgent kid business right when my hands are covered in dough, and that’s why I’m fond of this particular recipe for Homemade Whole Wheat Bread. It uses ‘Vital Wheat Gluten,’ which I buy in the food storage area of my local grocery store (yes, I’m aware that not all grocery stores have such a thing. I’d look by the yeast.). The best part of using it is that the bread only has to rise once–there’s no punch down and divide into loaves after an hour to worry about. Which isn’t a big deal, unless you have kids young enough to possibly need a diaper change in the middle of kneading. One less step means I can get it all done during naptime, which is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
(If you’re easy-going like my amazing mother-in-law, this probably isn’t such a big deal to you. Interruptions during certain processes stress me out, however, and if you’re more like me, well, this is the recipe for you.)
As for my changes to the recipe, well…I see no reason not to use half oil and half butter, instead of all oil. (I’m all about the taste.) I tend toward sugar instead of honey, just because honey is expensive, but I’ve done both. And I sure use regular yeast from Costco instead of instant. I’ve never had a problem.
I also knead by hand; I sort of enjoy it that way, but I also don’t have a stand mixer big enough to handle the whole recipe, and halving it just means half the result for about the same amount of work. Considering how quickly my family can consume a loaf of homemade bread, I’d rather knead by hand and get four loaves for my trouble. I usually keep one out as part of our dinner and freeze the other three in gallon ziplocs; they keep very nicely for at least a month or two. I do grind my own wheat, but I imagine it would be fine with purchased whole wheat flour. If I run out of that, I top it off with white, but we’re just as happy with all wheat. Try it slightly warm with honey butter. It’ll make your day.