For those who have asked, I wanted to share the most common bread recipes our family uses. In general, I make all our own bread products, except for corn tortillas. I do like to keep some store-bought flour tortillas in the freezer for a quick lunch when I'm pinched for time, and from time to time I buy ready hamburger/hot dog buns if I don't have any home-made ones in stock in my freezer. But other than that, I make all of our bread products.
As a general rule, I use 100% whole grains for our breads. To make up for the denser texture, I sometimes add about 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten per batch of bread dough, which will help it to rise and produce a fluffy loaf.
I also freshly mill all of the flours I use. Fresh grains such as wheat are naturally much sweeter than their (stale) flours. Using freshly ground flour majorly offsets the "whole-grain" taste that some people do not like.
As far as baking pans go, my favorite are stainless steel pans from Norpro. If you are baking more than one loaf of bread at the same time, it helps to have the identical pans for all loaves so they will bake uniformly and be done at the same time.
I can highly recommend these pans. They are very heavy-duty and sturdy, and easy to clean. They do need to be greased well before adding the dough, but they work much better than other stainless steel pans I have tried in the past. The extra effort is well worth the benefits over non-stick coated pans.
For mixing the dough, I use a large-capacity KitchenAid mixer. If you have a smaller family, making smaller batches and using a bread machine to mix your dough is a good option, even if you bake the bread in an actual oven.
- Sunflower seed sandwich bread - our standard, everyday sandwich bread. I use hard red wheat for this recipe, and I have adjusted the original recipe to make 5 loaves at a time, which is how much I can fit in my oven at one time. When the loaves are done cooling, I slice all of them, and freeze whatever we will not be using the same day I baked it. That lasts us about one week. This bread has a nice crumb, holds up well, and tastes wonderful. It does start tasting stale even a day or two later, which is why I freeze mine.
- plain sandwich bread - another nice sandwich bread, but my second choice since I discovered the above recipe. To add some bite, sometimes I sprout a 1/4 cup of wheat kernels and add those to the dough during mixing.
- crusty dough for pizza, bread sticks, baguettes, etc. The best flour to use for these is hard white wheat, if you have access to it.
- hamburger/hot dog buns - Very easy to make, and so yummy! I use 100% whole, hard red wheat.
- tortillas - Very tasty and easy! The recipe does call for too much water, though, so I always find I have to add extra flour to get the right consistency (similar to pie crust dough). I use 100% whole wheat, and they come out very yummy. I roll my tortillas out with a rolling pin, because it seems that a tortilla press would not work well with this recipe. I also do not add any oil or other fat to my frying pan. Rather, I set it on medium high heat for about five minutes, and then add one tortilla at a time to the hot pan for about 30-60 seconds per side. It's important to keep the tortillas covered once they are cooked to keep them from drying out. These freeze and thaw out again very nicely, too.
Photo credit: Taste of Home
- biscuits - For these, I use freshly milled soft wheat. I also grate the butter using the larger grater of my Kitchenaid slicer/shredder attachment, which makes this a snap. It helps if you freeze the butter first, but works almost just as well with butter from the fridge, too. When I remember, I always keep a box of butter in the freezer for grating into biscuits, pie crusts, etc.