I do a lot of bread baking during the colder months. Sometimes I make my homemade bread by hand, sometimes I use my bread machine. The bread machine is one of my favorite appliances because it saves me so much time. For this recipe I use the machine to mix the dough, then take it out and finish it the traditional way. But if you don't have a breadmaker, you can make any bread recipe by hand. It's not difficult, people have been doing it for thousands of years. I will give the directions for doing it by hand after the bread machine directions.
Store bought bread can't compare to home baked bread. Aside from better flavor and the wonderful smell that wafts though the house when bread is baking, when you make it yourself you can control the quality of the bread ingredients. Here is what is in a loaf of Aunt Millies 100% whole wheat bread-
INGREDIENTS: WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SUGAR, YEAST, WHEAT GLUTEN, SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, SWEET DAIRY WHEY, MOLASSES, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, ETHOXYLATED MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, MALT EXTRACT, YEAST NUTRIENTS (CALCIUM SULFATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, AMMONIUM SULFATE), CALCIUM PROPIONATE (A MOLD INHIBITOR), MONOGLYCERIDES, AZODICARBONAMIDE, ASCORBIC ACID; MAY BE TOPPED WITH FLOUR.
Soybean oil, ethoxylated mono-and diglycerides, calcium propionate and azodicarbonamide are not my idea of good eats.
I adapted this recipe from Electric Bread. I used saffron threads that I ground with a mortar and pestle, but you could easily substitute 1/2 tsp. rosemary, oregano or any other spice you enjoy. It goes well with any kind of soup, I served it with my Lentil soup.
Saffron Braided Bread
1 1/2 c. warm water for crust- an additional egg
1 egg poppy seeds
4 c. king arthur white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. cane sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. saffron threads, ground
3 tsp. yeast
Place all ingredients except 1 egg and poppy seeds in bread machine pan, run through dough cycle. Remove from pan, divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into a 12" rope, pinch ropes together at one end, braid, pinch together other end. Place on greased baking sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Let rise in warm spot about 40 min. till doubled in size. Bake 375 for about 25 min.
To make by hand:
Place warm water in large bowl, sprinkle in yeast followed by sugar. Let sit 5-10 min. till foamy. Add egg, salt, ground saffron and 1/2 of flour. Mix with a spoon and keep adding flour. When dough is too thick, turn out onto floured counter top and knead about 10 min. till smooth and elastic. Place in oiled bowl, cover with a dish cloth and place in warm spot to rise, about 1 hour till doubled. Then divide into 3 portions and follow directions above to finish.
This can also be done using a dough hook on a kitchen aid mixer, instead of kneading by hand for 10 min., the dough hook can do it in less than 5 min.