Better x 3 : Homemade Bread

(Why homemade bread is three times better than store bought bread!)

I've recently started baking my own bread for the hubby and me.  Have I lost my mind?  No.  Actually, I find the entire long, slow process of mixing and kneading and rising and shaping and rising and baking to be kind of relaxing.  It almost forces you to slow down, know what I'm saying?  And even though it's a 3+ hour project start to finish, there's so much downtime that you can get plenty of other things done while it's rising and baking.  Plus the aroma is seriously intoxicating.  And not only does homemade bread taste better (the 1st better...so obvious), it is so much better for you nutritionally than a loaf of processed, shelf-stable bread (the 2nd better).  We use it mostly as sandwich bread...though the hubby and I can easily eat half a loaf just slicing it off, toasting it, and eating it plain - no jam, butter or anything.  This recipe is truly divine.

Whole Wheat and Bran Bread

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cup oat bran
2/3 cup wheat bran
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. dry active yeast

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. canola oil

1 Tbsp. honey
3 1/3 cups water 
2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour (as needed)
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. salt 

 -Combine the first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  
-Make a well in the center and add in the oil, honey and water.  Mix well.
-Slowly add in two cups of wheat flour until the dough is soft and sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for six to seven minutes, adding more wheat flour as necessary.   
-After well combined, place the mixing bowl over the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes. 
-Remove the bowl, flatten out the dough and sprinkle half of the salt over it.  After several turns, add the rest of the salt, and knead for five to seven more minutes until the dough is smooth. 

First Rise
-Put dough into a clean, lightly floured container.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (the oven with just the light on....or your porch on a warm day!) for 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size.  

-Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and flatten gently.  Divide into two equal pieces.
-With the first piece of dough, flatten with hands into a rectangle (short side facing you).  Fold the top third down, the bottom third up.  Rotate and repeat several times.  
-After compact, shape into a cylinder the length of your bread pan and seal the seam.  Tuck the ends in several times until they're secure.
-Place into well-greased pan (don't forget to grease the top of the lip - makes for much easier removal post-baking!).  Repeat with other piece of dough. 

Second Rise
-Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 45-60 minutes, until the dough has risen well above the rim of the pans. 

-Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  
-To tell if the bread is done, you can do the "tap the bottom" to see if it sounds hollow...but for me, sticking in a thermometer (in the side where no one can see it!) and making sure it's 190 degrees inside is way easier.
-Pop the loaves out of the pans and let cool on a wire rack. 

This is the recipe I used for making my first ever loaf of yeast bread.  First. Ever.  So if it's your first time making homemade bread, you can do it!  Just don't be scared of the dough.  You control it!  

Oh, curious about the "third better" of homemade bread?  That would be how much you can save making it from scratch.  I did the math (and I think I even did it right!) and it costs me $1.08 to make each loaf of this (assuming that my time isn't worth anything!).  To get a good, hearty loaf of bread, it's normally what, $4.50?  It might not sound like much of a difference, but saving $3.50 a loaf on something we buy once a week equals saving over $180 a year!  Ohhhh the damage I could do at Target with $180!  

Hence and therefore....homemade bread is three times better!
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