My Version of Homemade Bread

Homemade bread and I have never really been friends. It’s like we always wanted to become pals, but we just couldn’t click. I’ve been trying to make great whole wheat homemade bread for almost seven years, with only a little success. My breads weren’t all disasters - some even tasted pretty good - but there was never a recipe that stuck with me.

I tried bread machines, sourdough, lots of yeast (before I knew it’s not so great), lots of gluten (I didn’t know that wasn’t so good either), kneading once, kneading twice... Then I read Nourishing Traditions and tried soaking the flour first and did their yeasted bread. I have to admit that was a step up from my previous experiments. But... I don’t know... it just wasn’t clicking enough for me to make homemade bread regularly.

Then I found a recipe for whole wheat quick bread and adapted it Weston A. Price style:

3 cups whole wheat flour (or whole grains of your choice)

1 1/2 cups raw milk or buttermilk

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum-free)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (or other unrefined sweetener)

Soak flour in milk and/or buttermilk (I used a mixture of the two) for 12-24 hours. Gently stir in remaining ingredients until moistened. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until loaf tests done.

No, it's not fluffy, rise-over-the-top-of-the-pan bread, but it's good. The loaf is dense but not tough, easy to slice because the crust isn’t brick-hard, and has a surprisingly sweet sourdough kinda flavor that makes it quite addictive. And, of course, it tastes perfectly lovely with butter.

I was very surprised how much we all liked the bread, considering the ingredients and preparation are so darn simple. I think that’s why I like it so much. So, finally, bread and I are kindling up a little friendship.

What’s been your experience with homemade bread? Have you found any recipes that you love?

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  1. This recipe sounds SO interesting. I have never heard of soaking flour in milk. I like that it's virtually effortless, too, for those times when I'm craving homemade but for whatever reason don't want to be in the kitchen very long.

    Anyway, I also have a fabulous bread's with yeast but's virtually "hands-off" with no kneading or anything. You can find it on my blog under Artisan Bread.

    I might try your recipe but add cinnamon, walnuts and raisins....I'll let you know how it turns out!


  2. Just make sure it's raw milk! If you don't have any on hand, you can also use water plus two tablespoons of whey, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. This will provide similar results (and will still bring out the nutrients in flour).

    I always soak my pancakes and biscuits in raw milk or buttermilk and they turn out so well. I thought the same might apply to a quick bread, and it seems to work well.

    If you your version out, I'd love to hear how you like it! Since it's a quick bread, it would be really easy to incorporate other ingredients for herb breads, dried fruit breads or even pumpkin bread! I need to do some experimenting with it myself...

    P.S. Since discovering this recipe I haven't bought store bread in 2 weeks!

  3. A few questions. Can grocery store buttermilk and flour (King Arthur brand) be used? Also...gluten and yeast aren't good??

  4. Yes, cultured buttermilk from the store is acceptable if that’s what is available to you. I actually use King Arthur’s organic whole wheat flour right now, since they carry it at my local grocery store. Organic is preferred if you can get it, but if not just use what you can.

    Gluten is a protein that is not very digestible for anyone, but especially for those who have gluten sensitivities (many people are gluten-intolerant and don’t know it). Soaking grains helps break down some of the gluten to make it more digestible, so adding more gluten in before baking is counterproductive.

    Yeast itself is not inherently bad, but most commercial yeast you buy at the store is a processed food (some - if not all - of it is genetically modified). Instant yeast is the most processed kind. It’s not really nutritious like the wild yeast that develops when you make sourdough bread, for example. (This is mentioned in Nourishing Traditions.)

    I haven’t attempted sourdough in a while, but I probably will in the near future because I think that’s more ideal for homemade bread. Then I can eliminate the baking powder as well.

    I am not sure which is more of a compromise: baking powder or commercial yeast. Neither are perfect, but I’m not sure which is really worse. From everything I’ve read, baking powder (aluminum-free) just stood out to me as the better choice, but that may or may not be correct.

  5. Ah, Elizabeth. I love my homemade bread. Been making it for years. 5 loaves at at time. Whole wheat, honey, olive oil, sea salt. And yeast.
    Sigh. I'm not a fan of sourdough flavor, but someday I'll try your recipe.
    I'm enjoying your blog!

  6. Surprisingly enough, my last batch of bread had very little of the sour taste at all. I think it's because it's getting cold here and the low temps inside keep it from fermenting to the point of being sour. I read something before about how you can keep sourdough from tasting very sour by keeping the starter at cooler temps. I'll have to look more into that.

    Also, it's more expensive than regular whole wheat, but you can buy sprouted wheat flour online. The nutrients will be more available, and you can use it without soaking. Sprouted flour is a great alternative for recipes when you don't want to soak first.

  7. I've just been using my breadmaker, mixing my flours, seeds and water then letting it mix on the pasta setting and leaving it for 12 to 24 hours before adding yeast and setting it to my favourite bread programme. It was fantastic and even had a sourdoughish flavour.I am now a soaking convert.

  8. This didn't work for me. I soaked it overnight but it was so thick the next morning I couldn't even stir the remaining ingredients into it. I used my hands to try to mix it. It didn't rise either (no surprise there I guess). My ingredients were recent purchases so they weren't expired. Any suggestions? I'm open to giving it another try.

  9. Sorry to hear this didn't work for you. Sometimes I use my electric beaters to get the batter good and mixed. Adding in a couple tablespoons on melted butter really helped with the end result, too.

    I have to admit the results are less than predictable, though. It's definitely not like yeasted bread, but in my experience it's been tasty and, more important for me, very easy. I actually haven't been making homemade bread much in the last couple months, so I haven't been tweaking this recipe much as a result.

    Homemade bread seems to be different for everyone. I know Ann Marie from Cheeseslave has been posting about her success with sourdough lately - that might be a good place to look for more ideas about making homemade bread the nourishing way.

  10. Okay, I tried making it again only this time when I stirred in the remainder of the ingredients I added extra milk and 2 tsp. cinnamon. It required quite a bit of stirring but it turned out fine and was quite tasty. When a friend made it she added 1 tbl. grated orange zest along with some golden raisins and she said it was very good.

    Just wanted to let you know.

  11. How many loaves/slices does this recipe typically make?

  12. It makes a medium-sized loaf, so depending on how thick you like your slices, probably about 10-16.

  13. Oh yes- before I found out about phytic acid I was a beer bread junkie. Except that I didn't like the flavor beer gave the bread, so I started using all natural gingerale (before I found out that it was sweetened with fructose as well as honey). Now my favorite recipe is a medieval yeasted bread recipe, but I do keep slices of my "beer" bread in the freezer for spur of the moment PB&J's.

    Actually, my beer bread recipe is almost identical to your quick bread recipe, except for the choice of liquid. If cultured buttermilk is ok for soaking on the counter (I've avoided it so far because it's pasteurized), this'll give me a much healthier alternative.

    Also, I've added crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese to my quick bread before, and it makes a super tasty bread! I also find that adding an extra 1/4 cup water or so gives the bread a better consistency. That's with beer and soda, though, buttermilk may be different.

  14. WordVixen: Great tips. Beer bread sounds fun. I've never tried that. I believe cultured buttermilk is fine (as is yogurt) because they have beneficial cultures in them that develop at room temperature and prevent spoilage normally caused by bad bacteria.