My First Bread: Wheatgerm Bread

I am a proud non-owner of a Kitchen-Aid Mixer.

Okay, not really. But I am a proud non-owner of a Kitchen-Aid Mixer who decided that she will attempt her first bread without said Mixer and now she feels very accomplished and skillful and has since gotten rid of that monkey on her back who kept whispering that she needed a Kitchen-Aid Mixer to feel complete as a cook.

See, I’ve yearned to bake my first bread for a while now. The thing was, I thought I needed a mixer, because all of the recipes for bread that I knew of called for (or just assumed you were using) one. I never brought it up with other bread-makers I know (Mom, Nana) so I had no idea how easy it is to make hand-made bread. And then three things happened:

1. I realized that I am not, and will not in the near future be, able to afford a Kitchen-Aid Mixer, and I do not, for the time-being, want to compromise with a lesser model.

2. I bought two cookbooks, The Cook’s Book, and The Art of Handmade Bread, which had recipes that didn’t involve mixers and a ton of instructional pictures.

3. I spoke with my mom, who laughed and told me bread is very easy to make.

So, here it is. And I am so freakin’ proud of myself. I’ve been slicing off pieces all week, and while I made this last Saturday, it is still springy and fresh tasting today. I know exactly what went into this bread, I know how healthy it is for me, and I know how long it has been on this earth. I didn’t pick this up off a dusty shelf. It doesn’t contain bleach or whatever makes white bread white. It’s mine. All mine.

And yours, too, if you want to make it:

Wheatgerm Bread

from The Art of Handmade Bread

Time: 30 minute prep, 2-6 hour rise, 45 min bake

  • 1½ oz. whole-wheat grain, with water to cover
  • ¾ cup toasted wheatgerm
  • 3½ cups whole-wheat bread flour
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1½ cups water at 68ºF
  • ¼ cup orange juice at 68ºF
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1¾ tsp fresh yeast, crumbled
  1. Place whole-wheat grains in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes, adding water as it evaporates. Remove from heat, add cold water to the pan to cool grains then drain through a fine-mesh seive.
  2. Put flour, salt, and toasted wheatgerm in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl mix the water, o.j., and honey, and stir in crumbled yeast and cooked grains from step 1. When yeast has dissolved, add liquid to dry ingredients and mix with your hands. Dough will be very sticky and you’ll have doughy hands, but don’t worry about that! When evenly combined, cover the bowl and leave for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, grease and flour a bread loaf baking pan. Then rub 1 tsp of corn or olive oil on your kneading work surface. Remove dough from bowl and knead for 10 to 20 seconds. Form into a ball, put back into bowl, cover, and leave for 5 minutes. Repeat kneading, cover, and leave for another 5 minutes. Repeat kneading again, cover, and leave for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, pat the dough into a rectangular shape measuring roughly 10″ left toright and 8″ front to back. Roll the dough inward, starting at the end furthest away from you, rolling as tightly as you can. Tap the ends inward and drop into your greased pan.
  5. Cover with a cloth and place pan in a warm place (I used my laundry cabinet, above the washer). Check on it in about 1 and ½ hours. It took mine 6 hours, but when the dough rises ½ inch above the pan’s edges. use a sharp knife to cut several diagonal slashes in your dough and then bake in an oven preheated to 425ºF for about 45 minutes or until browned.