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A few months ago a sweet lady from church shared a sourdough starter and bread recipe with me…ever since the moment that I baked my first loaf of bread (which wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but it was perfectly edible!) I’ve been testing and tasting recipes, trying to find one that’s just right.  Our go-to bread is a simple honey wheat, it isn’t fussy and doesn’t require a ton of kneading.  I’ve even flubbed the recipe a time or two and the bread still turned out ok!  When I first started digging up bread recipes, everything I read made it seem like bread baking was so difficult and high maintenance.  If you’ve thought about baking  homemade bread before but were intimidated, I hope this recipe will help you see that it doesn’t have to be.  Ok, now for the good part…

Honey Wheat Bread (makes two large 2lb loaves)

Dry Ingredients

  • 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (optional, but for recipes with higher wheat content it helps you achieve a softer bread with less kneading)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 1/2 tablespoons/2 packets active dry yeast)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (or 1 tablespoon table salt)

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (100-110* Fahrenheit)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (if using active dry yeast, it must be ‘proofed’ in warm water before being added so save it to add with the wet ingredients).

2. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • for active dry yeast, add to separate small bowl with 1/2 cup of the warm water and a pinch of sugar and let sit until foamy (approximately 10 minutes) then mix with wet ingredients

3. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly, add wet ingredients, and stir until mixed.  The exact amount of water needed can vary depending on the flour and the humidity.  You’re looking for a soft supple and slightly sticky dough, if it seems too dry you can add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time.

4. Dump the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes (here’s a demonstration video)

5. Place the dough in a large buttered bowl, spray top of dough with cooking spray, and loosely cover with plastic wrap to rise until doubled (approximately 2 hours).

6. Punch down dough and split into two equal parts.  You can bake both loaves now, refrigerate it in a lidded container for up to five days, or freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to one month.

7. When you’re ready to bake, knead each portion of the dough separately on a lightly floured surface, and shape into loaves. (and a demonstration video for this step)

8. Place each shaped loaf in a buttered or greased pan, spray the top of the dough with cooking spray, and loosely cover with plastic wrap to rise again (this step is called proofing and should take about 45-60 minutes until the dough fills out and rises in the pan a bit).

9. Bake at 350* F until brown and firm (internal temperature should be anywhere from 180-200* F)

10. Remove from pan(s) and place on a cooling rack.

11. When completely cooled, slice and enjoy!  Or if you’re impatient like us, just wait until it’s cool enough to touch.  ;o)

Notes:

  • You can substitute white wheat flour for some or all of the flour in this recipe, but remember that whole wheat flours have less gluten available so you may need to add vital wheat gluten to help balance that out.  Vital wheat gluten can be found in the baking aisle at most grocery stores, I have been able to find Hodgson Mill brand locally.
  • You can interchange the flour proportions and make your loaf more white or more wheat, just keep in mind that whole wheat flours soak up more water than all-purpose so you may need to adjust the amount of water accordingly.
  • This recipe can also be made in a stand mixer, but you must have a dough hook and it needs to be a heavy duty machine that can handle four pounds of dough (or you could split the recipe in half and make one loaf at a time).
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I just mixed up a batch of dishwasher detergent and realized it would be fun to share the recipe here, in case anyone else could put it to good use!  There are quite a few recipes floating around on the internet and in magazines, but I fiddled with them until I came up with a recipe that works for us.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can do just that, add a little more of this or a little less of that instead of trying brand after brand at the grocery store (because that can get expensive quickly!).

The ingredients are: 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts borax, 1 part baking soda, and 1 part kosher salt.

Add all ingredients to a jar or reusable plastic container (large yogurt container, empty juice jug, etc) and mix thoroughly.  Add the detergent to your dishwasher, just as you would with commercial powder detergents.  If you have hard water, or notice a powdery film on your glassware you can reduce the amount of baking soda or add some citric acid/lemishine.  Also, a powdery residue can indicate that you are using too much detergent.  Detergent manufacturers like to encourage us to use WAY more than is actually needed (use more = buy more = higher profits for them, right?) so don’t be afraid to scale back on the amount until it’s just right for your water and machine.  Using this recipe only costs you about 10 cents per load of dishes!  And the added bonus, no phosphates or other dangerous chemicals that are present in most commercial brands.  You can also use white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment, instead of Jet Dry and other similar expensive products.

The technical info: washing soda works its magic on greasy or crusty messes, borax enhances the cleaning power of washing soda and also attacks grease, baking soda acts as an abrasive for scrubbing, and the salt helps soften the water for easier cleaning.  If you’re curious about the safety of any of these products, please take a look at this site as it has very extensive information on using natural cleaners in your home.

Next up, I’m going to start making our own laundry detergent, so stay tuned!

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