I learned how to make bread from the Tassajara Bread Book close to 7 years ago. I took a nearly 4 year hiatus as life changed and I became frustrated with the bread turnout. Recent trips to the grocery store have shown how I can make bread cheaper at home, so I gave it a try again. What’s different this time is that I know what to look for in my bread making. So, for the past 8 weeks, our little family has been eating more home-baked things.

Edward Espe Brown calls for whole wheat flour, but previous experiments in bread making show that bread made solely with whole wheat flour is much too dense for the untrained mouth. For those of us who grew up on white bread, at minimum, bread must be made with a mix of your basic baking flour. I use unbleached white flour. This go-around, I also wanted to see what bread looked like in a simple form. So, this is what my bread looks like without whole wheat flour.

Michelle’s Flax Seed Bread
Makes four loaves. I use a 16 Q stainless steal mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, with additional appropriate liquid and dry measuring tools.

12 cups unbleached white flour + enough for kneading
6 cups lukewarm water
1 cup whole-ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil + enough for bowl & pans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons yeast

For the Sponge

  1. Pour 6 C lukewarm water in bowl
  2. Gently stir, with wooden spoon, 2 T yeast until dissolved
  3. Add 1/2 C brown sugar to yeast and water, stir until dissolved
  4. Add flour one cup at a time, gently stirring in clockwise rotation, until mixture is consistency of thick mud
  5. You will use about 6 cups of flour
  6. Beat 100 strokes until mostly smooth
  7. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 60 minutes, or until double in size. To speed rising put in warm place, like on top of a warmed stove.

The Second Part

  1. Add edge of bowl: 2 1/2 T salt, 1 C flax, and 1/2 C oil
  2. Fold into mixture
  3. Add flour, one cup at a time, gently folding into itself until dough pulls away from bowl
  4. Begin kneading in bowl, ensuring hands are floured along with dough, still adding one cup at a time
  5. Once dough begins to look more like kneading dough and is less sticky, put on floured surface, preferably a wooden surface
  6. Pour about 1/2 T of oil into bottom of bowl once emptied of dough
  7. To knead, use both hands and pull rounded mound towards you, push out with your the heal of your hands, turn 1/4 turn clockwise, repeat until dough is smooth and not sticky
  8. You will have used another 6 cups of flour
  9. Round dough and put in oiled bowl, turn over so entire mound of dough has a thin cover of oil
  10. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

The Third Part

  1. Dough should be doubled in size
  2. Punch down
  3. Cover with damp towel

Let rise for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

The Fourth Part

  1. Pour dough onto floured surface
  2. Quickly knead back down to size
  3. Cut into fourths by scoring round
  4. Oil four bread pans
  5. Knead with one hand each loaf
  6. Roll into slight log, pinch bottom seam together, place in bread pan, repeat until all four are in their respective pans
  7. Spread dough out with backs of hands until dough touches each side, mold slightly
  8. Cover with damp towel

Let rise 20 minutes.

The Fifth Part

  1. Cut three 2-inch slits in each loaf
  2. Put in 350 degree oven
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and has a hollow knocking sound when the top is gently knocked
  4. Let cool for ten minutes
  5. Remove from pans and put on a dry towel, cover with another dry towel
  6. Enjoy!

You may be wondering why I have categorized this as ‘family’ and ‘sustainability’. I believe people can be brought closer together by sharing food and one of the most basic elements of food is bread. So, we are brought closer together as family by breaking of bread. In regards to sustainability, whenever we get closer to a process instead of taking the steps and burying them, we get closer to sustainability. One aspect to sustainability is knowing where things come from, buying locally, and understanding the process of the thing. By making my own bread I control the ingredients and understand and know the process, which then makes me and my family more sustainable.


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