What better way to celebrate homemade bread day, than to roll up your sleeves, sprinkle some flour, and knead out an old-fashioned bake-in-the-oven loaf?
People love bread; that’s nothing new. But did you know that it actually played a huge role in the formation of early human societies? When those in the western half of Asia learned to domesticate wheat, cultivation spread through Europe and North Africa, and slowly, our way of eating became less centred on hunting and foraging, and about farming instead. From there, bread continued to move through history, being mentioned in the bible, devoured by explorers, kneaded by pioneers, and now still, continuing to be eaten by modern people.
And so it goes, in a world filled with rapid advancement and change, our love of bread hasn’t faded. Although there is no debate when it comes to homemade loaves being the tastiest, anyone who has ever cut into a just-out-of-the-oven loaf understands the magic: a thick, seedy crust, with a soft, doughy middle. It simply cannot be beat. Homemade bread also avoids the plethora of preserving, leavening, and bleaching agents that are often used in conventionally baked bread (not all, of course).
So, today is the day we celebrate what Fred Penner sang so cheerfully (sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine!), as well as the assumed interpretation of 1973 rock band Bread’s namesake. But most directly, we enjoy bringing it back to basics, and tasting the wholesome difference of a loaf that’s been baked with homemade love.
Today, let us raise our rolling pins, because today we break bread, and we make it at home!
EASY HOMEMADE WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 packet (3/4 Tbsp) instant yeast
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup millet
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water (get it the same temperature you would a bath, about 110F) with yeast, then let these ingredients set for 5 minutes to get foamy. Once done, add salt and flours and stir. You should have a rough, sticky dough.
- Remove the dough from the bowl while you lightly grease the bowl with olive oil. Place your dough back into the greased bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator for two hours, or in a warm place for one hour.
- After one hour, your dough should have doubled in size. Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour and transfer to a generously floured work surface. Adding flour as needed, knead the dough a few times. Then add oats and millet in batches. Keep kneading until grains have been worked in, and the dough is no longer sticky.
- Place your dough on a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle a light coating of flour over the top to help keep the dough moist. Let sit for 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and place a metal or cast iron pan (avoid glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and prepare 1 cup of hot water.
- When oven is hot, slash the bread 2 or 3 times with a knife, making each cut about 1/2 -inch deep.
- Place bread in oven and carefully pour hot water into a shallow pan on the rack beneath. Quickly close your oven door.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the loaf is brown and crusty.
- Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack. Once fully cooled, store leftovers in a plastic bag at room temperature.