Learn how to make homemade whole wheat bread and not only take your nutrition to the next level, but also take a step towards greater self-reliance in your life!
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Hey my friends! Do you consider yourself a homesteader, like I do?
What does ‘homesteading’ mean to you?
I know a lot of people associate the term “homesteading” with living on lots of land, raising animals, growing a garden, etc.
And you know what? I do too. Sort of.
After all… we moved our family from the suburbs to a country life because we wanted to establish more of a ‘back to basics’/ homestead feel to our lifestyle.
But creating a homestead can happen regardless of where you live. Granted, it’s likely a bit easier to accommodate when you’ve got some space to work with (both in and out of the house). But, in my humble opinion, homesteading is more a frame of mind.
For me, the homestead life is all about 3 things: 1) raising my family with integrity and hard work ethics (kinda going back to our roots), 2) self-reliance and being prepared for a rainy day, and 3) freedom.
Can we talk real for a minute?
Life is a messy thing. It is full of uncertainties.
Unemployment/financial setbacks happens. It doesn’t matter what job you’re in.
Natural disasters happen. It doesn’t matter where you live.
Illness and health issues happen. Regardless of who you are.
You just never know when life will throw you a curve ball. And that has never felt more true than in the current circumstances our world is facing. Uncertainty abounds!
[**Ironically enough… when I began writing this post, we were living our “all is well” day-to-day life. BUT, as I am finishing this up, we are currently living through the ‘Texas Arctic Freeze of 2021’! Unprecedented cold weather that has hit Texas for an extended period of time has caused our power grid to go down.
We were without power for over 36 hours in sub-freezing temperatures, and even once power was restored, it was rationed through rolling blackouts. So we only ever had power for a few hours at a time before it was shut off again.
Water has been off for a lot of folks. And there is no milk, eggs, or bread to be found in the stores.
No power, no water, no food at the stores… All this, when just a week ago it was a normal day on the farm.
Y’all… crazy things just happen!**]
But y’all… we can take simple steps that will create a buffer between you and the chaos around you. These simple steps involve learning skills and putting measures in place that allow you to take care of yourself and your family regardless of life’s circumstances.
These practical measures create self-reliance and provide comfort and stability when those curveballs come.
Practical Measures of Self-Reliance
What do I mean by ‘practical measures’ of self-reliance? Well, overall that will look different for each family. But some basic practical measures that all families should aim for include having:
- money set aside in savings (6 months worth of bills, if at all possible)
- food and water set aside (at least 3 months worth of food, and 2 weeks of water)
- a supply of medicine (particularly prescriptions… at least 2 weeks worth)
- a supply of basic home necessities on hand… about 6 months worth or so (please… let us all learn from the 2020 toilet paper crisis! 🤣)
- emergency plans in place for if a disaster were to strike your area (including a 72-hr kit)
- and having a basic knowledge of life skills… such as cooking/baking from scratch, and first aid.
Obviously we cannot plan and prepare for every little catastrophe of life. We would go crazy. And truthfully, we would miss the point of living.
But by taking practical measures of preparedness, we can at least have peace in knowing that most any disaster would be buffered to some degree. And that buffer zone may just give us the sanity we need to keep our wits about us when things go topsy-turvey.
But that level of self-reliance doesn’t happen over night, and it’s not a one-time thing. Again, it’s a frame of mind that you have to get into.
So where do I start?
Taking that first step can feel overwhelming because there are so many different steps and/or paths to go down.
But a wonderful ‘first step’ is in learning how to make meals and/or basic staples from scratch. Just disconnecting yourself from relying on grocery stores for basic food items can make a big difference in your mental game.
And my most favorite and comforting “staple” to be able to make at home is bread. (ooo… I think I just started salivating.)
Y’all….. if there was one food that can bring me comfort, it is warm, homemade whole wheat bread. It just does. not. get better for me than that. 😁🍞
So y’all, I have made sure that I know how to not only 1) make homemade whole wheat bread, but 2) make homemade whole wheat bread that we LOVE! 😉❤️ And today I’m super happy that I get to share this knowledge with you!
The Self-reliance of *Whole Wheat* Bread
So why homemade whole wheat bread? Why not just regular ol’ white bread?
Two reasons: 1) nutrition, and 2) storage capabilities.
Nutrition. Folks, if I’m going to be going through the effort of making homemade bread, I want it to be so much better for me than what I can get at the store. Simple as that. So I skip the processed and refined flours and use only the most nutritious ingredients.
Freshly ground whole wheat grains. Local raw honey. Extra virgin olive oil.
Let’s put some good quality things in our bodies, y’all. Do it a favor! 😉
Storage Capabilities. The other benefit of making whole wheat bread is that you can store the ingredients needed for a very long time!
Wheat berries (the actual wheat grain that gets ground into flour) can be stored for 30+ years easily. Honey basically lasts for-ev-er. Yeast stores almost indefinitely in the freezer. The oil needs to be rotated regularly, but will easily keep for over a year.
And why is that important? Because again… we’re trying to NOT be dependent on grocery stores. We don’t want to have to ‘run to the store’ each time we need to make bread.
So our family keeps enough of each ingredient on hand (stored away in our home) to be able to make a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread for every day of the year. (I will totally share more info on that in a future post!)
A year of homemade bread, y’all! Tell me that doesn’t just bring comfort to your heart! It sure does to mine!! Peace and comfort for any rainy day. 😉
The Right Equipment For the Job
There are a few pieces of equipment that are somewhat ‘key’ to making homemade whole wheat bread. True… our ancestors of yester-year made bread without all this fanciness. But that was definitely a different time and a different pace of life. I’m convinced those women must have spent their entire days in the kitchen. By the time you finish cleaning up from one meal, it would be time to prepare the next!
But that’s just not the way we fly anymore. And we’ve got better tools to help us in our efforts.
A Heavy Duty Mixer
A strong stand mixer is probably one of my favorite perks to living in the modern age of bread making. If I had to knead bread by hand…… well… I just don’t know that it would ever happen. 🤣
When I first started making homemade bread early on in my marriage, I only had my KitchenAid mixer to work with. Don’t get me wrong… I do love my KitchenAid mixer. But even though it’s a Pro600 model, it can only handle enough dough to be able to make 2 loaves of bread. 3 max.
And that’s fine… if it’s just me that I’m trying to feed. But with a family of 6, two to three loaves of bread is going to last us four days. Five, if I’m lucky.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be making bread every fourth day of my life. And I didn’t. I only occasionally made homemade bread, and the rest of the time I still just bought bread from the store.
But when I was ready to be serious about my homemade bread making, hubby surprised me with a Bosch. (He’s so good at speaking my love language. 😁❤️)
The all-mighty Bosch is a powerful machine, my friends. This beauty can handle enough flour to be able to make six loaves of bread!
Do you know what that means??! For me, it means that I am able to ditch store-bought bread and be able to feed our family only homemade whole wheat bread. AND that I don’t have to be in the kitchen every few days making bread in order to accomplish that!
With the Bosch and being able to make six loaves of bread at a time, I usually end up needing to make bread about every week and a half. Sometimes more often, sometimes less. Just depends.
The other important tool here is a wheat grinder. A wheat grinder is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a piece of equipment used to grind wheat berries into flour.
Yes, you can purchase whole wheat flour from the grocery store to make your bread. However, whole wheat flour will not last too terribly long before it starts to go rancid. Not to mention, the nutrition starts to deteriorate from as soon as it is ground into flour.
So this does not make it conducive to keeping a long-term supply on hand.
When you’re talking about storing ingredients long term, you’ll want to go with the actual wheat berries. But you’re going to need a way to turn them into flour.
A couple options… you can use a mortar and pestle like our amazing ancestors. But not really. Because then you never get to leave your house. 😂
There are also some very high quality blenders that can turn wheat berries into flour. Which is awesome. But I also don’t recommend this route because you would be needing to grind a lot of flour… which would likely be pretty hard on the motor.
So then there are actual wheat grinders. My option of choice. 😉
When hubby and I got married, we were gifted a NutriMill wheat grinder. It was pretty awesome. But over time and use, the plastic bowl started cracking and parts got a bit loose, and it just wasn’t my favorite friend in the world due to the annoying amount of cleanup I had to do each time I used it. But it was fine. It worked and that’s what I needed it to do.
But eventually I learned about a Mockmill grinder. Annnnnd, I fell in love with it. Soooo… I may have sabotaged my NutriMill so that I would “need” to get the Mockmill. 🤣 (Shhh! Don’t tell hubby! 🤐)
Just kidding! I didn’t really sabotage my NutriMill. On my honor.
But I also wasn’t heart broken when it was reaching my very last nerve and hubby let me give it away to replace it with the Mockmill. 😁 (He loves homemade whole wheat bread almost as much as I do! 😉)
So about a year ago, the Mockmill joined our family. And we love it. My favorite two features are that 1) I can grind wheat directly into my storage container. And 2) there is virtually NO cleanup when I’m done grinding wheat. I just dust off the counter and that’s it!
So, if you find yourself in the market for a wheat grinder… definitely check out the Mockmill. But truly, the NutriMill is also a worthy foe.
How to Make Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Well folks, now that we’ve beat around the stick long enough… I guess it’s time to actually learn how to make homemade whole wheat bread!
I’m going to share with y’all the recipe that I currently use (and I’ll also walk you through that whole process).
But in case you’re not ready to jump in fully and commit to making homemade bread full time… don’t worry. I’ll include a link to the recipe I used to use when I only had my KitchenAid. (I wrote it 10 years ago on my old website! 😅) That recipe is also awesome. And you can still get a feel for the process of making homemade bread. Check it out HERE… but *not* until after you’ve read about how awesome it is to make SIX loaves of homemade bread here! 😉
Making Homemade Whole Wheat Bread in a Bosch
mixing the ingredients
All right folks, to make our six loaves of homemade whole wheat bread, we’re going to:
Start by fitting your Bosch with the dough hook and then adding 5 cups of whole wheat flour (preferrably freshly ground) to the bowl of your Bosch mixer. Add 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten and 2 Tbsp yeast. Give it a quick mix.
Side note: I use instant SAF yeast. It is my absolute favorite and I have never had it fail to work. It is extremely forgiving when it comes to temperatures and is basically fool-proof. 😝 If you want my recommendation, that’s the type of yeast I love.
Add the warm/hot water (again, the instant yeast is pretty darn forgiving on this, so don’t sweat the temperature too much) and vinegar. Mix until well combined (on lowest setting).
Add in the extra-virgin olive oil and then the honey. (Tip: I always do the oil first, and then use the same measuring cup for the honey. The honey will just sliiiide right on out due to the oil left coating the measuring cup. 😉) Mix again until well combined.
Cover and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. (The yeast will start getting nice and bubbly on ya during this time.)
Next we’re going to start the mixer back up (start on the lowest setting) and add the salt. Then start adding in the rest of the whole wheat flour, 1 cup at a time.
As you continue to add flour, you’ll start to hear the motor bear down. Turn the setting up to the next power level each time you start to hear it straining. (Mine can usually handle about 8 total cups of flour before I bump it up to level 2, then about 3 more cups before I have to keep bumping up the power. But just listen to your machine.)
Testing the Dough For Readiness
Stop adding flour when the dough has reached a ‘tacky’ level. If you touch the dough and nothing sticks to your finger, you’ve probably added too much flour. If, on the other hand, you touch the dough and it strings along as you pull your finger back, then there is not enough flour. You should be able to touch the dough and just have a wee bit of it stick to your finger.
Side note: I’m usually done with flour around 15 or 15 1/2 total cups of flour. (Don’t forget the 5 cups you added at the beginning when you’re counting!) So once you get to 15 cups of flour, start adding in little increments to make sure you don’t overdo it.
The reason you don’t want to add too much flour is because it will cause your bread to be more heavy and dense instead of light and fluffy. But if you *do* add more flour than you probably needed, don’t worry. The bread will still be fine. Just try next time to stop at the ‘tacky’ point. 😉
Knead, Divide, Shape
Knead the dough for 6-7 minutes in the Bosch (at whichever setting doesn’t cause the machine to strain… mine is usually the highest setting). And while that’s kneading, go ahead and get out your bread pans (I use 8×4 pans) and spray them down with non-stick spray. I also spray my work surface and large cutting knife. I spray it all! 😁
Tip: My BFF taught me a frugal tip about bread pans. She just buys them from the dollar store! True, they don’t last forever before they start to get some rust spots… but for $1, she just tosses it when it starts to get yucky and gets a new one. So that’s what I do now too. Thank goodness for BFFs. 😉
Turn out the dough onto your sprayed work surface after it has finished kneading. Bring all the dough together into a big ball (kind of kneading as you do so). And then I like to turn it over to give me a smooth surface to cut on.
Divide the dough into six even pieces. I like to score the dough first (score = make shallow cuts in the dough) to see if I’m about even before I cut. But even then, I usually end up needing to make a few adjustments to even out the pieces.
Shape the six pieces of dough into long ovals. I do this by kneading the dough from the outside in. Meaning… I pull from the outer edges of my dough piece, and then use my knuckles to push that down into the center. So hard to explain in words, and is really more of a feel. But by pulling from the edges and smooshing that into the center–over and over– you will create a smooth and tight bottom side of the dough (which will become your top in just a second). Then I tuck and pinch together all the dough ends that are in the center so that it’s kinda sealed up together. And as I’m doing all the kneading and tucking and pinching I just make sure I’m also working the dough into an oval shape.
And then, once I’ve got the middle all pinched and sealed together, I flip it over in my hand to reveal a nice a smooth bottom side (which is now the top) and place that into my greased bread pan.
It sounds rather complicated, but really it’s not. Each piece of dough usually takes me roughly 30 seconds to work into a loaf. Obviously, it’ll be slower when you first start, but the point is… don’t spend too much time worrying about it. When you’re just starting out, just do your best to work it into an oblong oval and that’ll be a good beginning. It’s not gonna be a failure if it’s not perfectly smooth on top. 😉
Rise and Bake
Rise. Move the pans of shaped loaves to a warm location (I like to use my oven with the light turned on) to let rise. Cover the pans with a light kitchen towel to prevent the dough tops from getting dried out.
Depending on how warm or cool your location is will determine how long it takes, but you want to let the dough rise until it’s about 1 to 2 inches above the pan. (Mine usually takes about 40 minutes.)
When it’s getting close to being done rising, go ahead and preheat the oven (350 F).
Oh, and I happen to have a double oven… so I can let my bread rise in one oven and preheat the other. But if you do not have a double oven and you are letting the bread rise in the oven… make sure you take the pans out before you preheat. 😂🤷🏼♀️
Bake. Once the bread has risen beautifully, bake the loaves at 350 F for 25 minutes.
Tip: If they are starting to get a little dark on top before the time is up, you can place some aluminum foil over the top of them while they are still baking.
Cool and Store / FREEZE
Cool. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
While it’s still in the pan, I like to lightly butter the top of the bread. This helps to retain moisture, give it a beautiful sheen, and also add a light buttery flavor.
Tip: I also like to cover the bread with a light kitchen towel while it’s cooling on the cooling rack to prevent all the moisture from escaping completely and drying it out too much.
Store. Once the bread is completely cool, place it in a plastic storage bag (I like to use the twist tie kind… just my preference) or other airtight container of your choosing.
Due to the complete freshness and lack of preservatives, this bread will store at room temperature for only 3 to 4 days (give or take) before mold starts to creep in. So I keep one loaf on the counter (or I’ll put it in the fridge if we’re not going through it fast enough), and I freeze the rest.
To freeze the bread, I take my wrapped bread and place it in an additional gallon freezer ziptop bag. I squish out as much air as I can and then stick it in the freezer. (The thin plastic twist tie bag will not protect the bread from freezer burn, so that’s why I double bag it into a freezer bag.)
And then to thaw the bread, I simply remove it from the freezer, take it out of the freezer ziptop bag (which I just put back in the storage box for re-use… since it never got anything yucky on it) and let the bread thaw on the counter (in it’s original twist-tie bag).
Slice and Enjoy
Slice up your bread and use it for all your delicious bread purposes!
Sandwiches… toast with butter and honey or jam… garlic bread served along side your soup…
YuMmMmMm!!!!! Enjoy y’all! And enjoy your journey towards greater self-reliance!
Shop this post
- Bosch Universal Plus (non-affiliate)
- Mockmill Wheat Grinder (non-affiliate)
- Hard White Wheat in bulk
- SAF Instant Yeast
- Anthony’s Vital Wheat Gluten
Check out what others have to say about homesteading!
I’m so excited to share this post as part of a collaboration with several other homesteaders. Please enjoy some time checking out what homesteading means to them!
- Megan at Simply Rooted Farmhouse shares about ‘What to Plant in a New England Garden’
- Cheyenne at Living Like We’re Country shares about living a slower paced life on a homestead
- Alexa at Church Street Homestead shares about her journey from city life to being a full-time homesteader
- Brittany at The Homestead Challenge shares about reaching homesteading goals of sustainability, health, and financial freedom
- Lindsey at Little Acre Farm shares fun insights about homesteading, and then benefits of homegrown organic food
- Anja at Our Gabled Home shares her journey to creating an urban homestead
- Steph at Spruce Acres Homestead shares how homesteading empowers us
- Samantha at The Crooks Family Farm shares 10 steps to start a homestead
- Brandy at The Stylish Homestead shares insights into balancing a full-time job and a successful homestead
- Kati at A Handsome Homestead shares about the blessings of a homestead life and tips to homestead wherever you live
- and Wendy at The Mountain Farmhouse shares a great post about the independence and self=sufficiency of homesteading, along with how to apply permaculture principles on the homestead.
And best of wishes to you all in your journey to self-reliance! Hugs, y’all!
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- 15-17 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
- 2 Tbsp instant yeast (I use instant SAF yeast)
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 6 1/2 cups warm to hot water
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup raw honey
- 2 Tbsp sea salt
- In a powerful stand mixer (I use a Bosch—my Professional 600 KitchenAid will not handle this amount of dough), mix together 5 cups of the flour, yeast, and vital wheat gluten.
- Add the water and vinegar and mix well. Add the oil and honey and mix again.
- Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Then start the mixer up and add the salt, and the remaining flour one cup at a time. When you’re getting close to 15 total cups, start adding only 1/2 cup at a time at this point. Test the stickiness after each addition is fully incorporated. The dough should be lightly tacky to the touch, but not fully sticky, and should hold it’s shape. The less flour you have to add, the lighter your finished bread will be.
- Once you’ve reached the desired level of tackiness, let the dough knead for 7 minutes in the mixer. Grease your bread pans with non-stick spray. (I use 8x4 loaf pans).
- Turn the dough out onto a greased (not floured) surface. Shape the dough into a ball and then divide it into 6 equal pieces (or 5, if you’re using a bigger size bread pan) using a sharp knife (also sprayed with non-stick spray).
- Shape each piece of dough into a nice oblong ball (that is about the same length as your bread pan) with all sides tucked under to make a nice smooth top. Place the shaped loaves into your bread pans and cover with your favorite kitchen towel (cuz it’s more fun that way). Let them rise in a warm place until they are about 2 inches about the rim of the bread pan. (I put them in the oven with the light on.)
- Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Remove bread and let it rest in the pan for about 5 minutes. Using a stick of butter, lightly ‘brush’ the tops of the bread with the butter stick and cover the entire surface. Then turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Cover the bread with your towel while cooling to retain moisture.)
- Wrap the bread in a plastic bag only after completely cooled. Store at room temp for 2-3 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. Store extra loaves in the freezer (wrapped in a freezer baggie).