Do you like making homemade bread? If you do, then you have found the best ‘easy to follow’ recipe.
It is a recipe tried over and over and has at all times yielded delicious loaves for a big family. Ditch the stale store-bought bread and our fresh nutritious wheat bread.
A brief history of Amish and Baking.
For many years my grandma and grandfather ran a bakery in the Amish country, PA Lancaster. My parents would often send my siblings and I to help over.
The Amish or also known as the plain people are known to set up and run successful businesses.
We live in communities and support each other. When you visit the Amish Country, you will see acres of beautiful wheat fields spanning across the country and a big milling house spectacularly arising in the middle of the field.
The scenery in the Amish country is breathtaking.
As Amish, we mostly ate what we grew, the bakeries got the wheat flour from the flour mills in our communities. Trades are handed down from one generation to another, keeping their traditional practices alive.
Our family bakery has continually baked classic Amish wheat bread. The bread always tastes homemade. It is served warm with some homemade butter and the experience always leaves you asking for more.
The Amish culinary heritage is largely influenced by Europe. We are told our founding fathers fled Europe in the 1800s due to religious persecution. We have learned to live in closed communities and rarely mingled with the outside world.
Times have changed and my father began to desire modern conveniences such as phones. It just made the bakery run efficiently. Though opposed by his parents and the church leaders, he secretly mingled with the English.
It didn't take long before he was shunned. It was a blessing for youngsters like us, though I miss my cousins and extended family. Somehow we have managed to thrive in a less strict Amish Order.
Today I will gladly share the original bread recipe that will inspire you to keep making bread.
What the Amish Wheat Bread
The Amish wheat bread is made of whole wheat and white bread flour. Whole wheat flour is unrefined wheat flour containing germ particles of wheat.
This flour is nutritious and rich in fiber and protein. However, you need some refined wheat flour to improve the structure of the bread.
White wheat flour is refined containing no germ particles. White flour acts as the glue, holding the elements of the whole wheat flour together.
This bread is good for digestion and beneficial if you are keen on your calorie intake.
This is not a quick bread, yeast is used as the leavening agent and therefore requires time for the first and second rise.
How to make the Amish Wheat Bread
This bread can be made by bread machine, stand mixer, or by hand. Using a bread machine is the easiest, it does the mixing, kneading, and proofing for you.
We never had the privilege of having one in our home. We were taught to feel the dough with our hands.
We kneaded until our arms would ache but with practice, we got skillful at working with dough.
A stand mixer saves time too, the dough hook saves your arms from aching lol. The recipe is relatively simple, it involves mixing the dry ingredients and then adding the wet ingredients.
Once a dough is formed, it is kneaded for at least 10 minutes. The dough is set aside to rise for one hour till it’s doubled in size.
After the dough has proofed sufficiently, it is punched down and shaped. It is set aside to rise for its second rise then baked in a preheated oven for 25 minutes till golden brown.
The bread should sound hollow when tapped.
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Whole wheat flour
Whole Wheat is unrefined flour; it is rich in fiber and protein. During milling the germ particles are not removed. It is rough in texture and therefore requires white flour to hold the components together.
All-purpose flour is refined and acts as a binding agent in the dough. It contains a higher amount of gluten as compared to whole-wheat flour.
Brown sugar sweetens the dough. You could substitute sugar with a more nutritious sweetener.
When you use honey; you will be making the Amish Honey Wheat Bread which is exceptionally distinct in flavor. (I ended up using honey as my pantry had run out of sugar).
Since this ain’t a quick bread. Yeast is the leavening agent. Ensure your yeast is fresh to yield the best results. Yeast gives the Amish bread a great flavor and structure too.
In this recipe, we used instant dry yeast that requires no activation process. When making Amish friendship bread, we use a starter made from wheat and water.
The reason salt is added is that it compliments the flavors of other ingredients in the bread dough. You can use regular salt or kosher salt.
Melted unsalted butter
Unsalted butter adds moisture to the bread dough. Butter can be substituted with vegetable oil such as coconut, canola, or olive oil.
It is important to use warm water. Very hot water will kill the yeast, very cold water will not activate the yeast and the bread dough will not rise.
A thermometer will tell the optimal temperature to make the bread dough which is usually 75 degrees.
Milk can be used instead of water. Milk enriches the bread with flavor and nutrition.
The dough hook attachment on the stand mixer kneads the dough more efficiently.
Mixing bowls are needed for mixing the wet and dry ingredients.
Measuring cups and spoons or kitchen weighing scale
Precision is required to achieve the best results in bread making.
If you are strong enough and have the time to knead the dough by hand, you will need a wooden spoon to begin mixing the dry and wet ingredients.
When you are a beginner in the art of bread making, it is very beneficial to feel the dough with your hands.
You can use a loaf pan to make a sandwich loaf or shape them into buns.
Clean tea towel or plastic wrap
Bread machine - optional
FAQ AMISH WHEAT BREAD
Why is my bread dry and crumbly?
You probably added some extra flour. The best measurements are done using a weighing scale.
Weighing scales give precise measurements as compared to measuring cups and spoons. Use a transparent measuring jar to measure the water or milk.
Can I use whole wheat flour without white flour?
Yes, you can but your dough will be very dense. Whole wheat flour contains heavy germ particles.
This makes the bread that is made entirely with whole wheat take more time to rise.
If you do not mind a dense loaf, go ahead and use whole wheat flour, it is rich in fiber.
It is important to measure your ingredients accurately. Any slight variations will make your bread recipe fail.
Excess flour makes the dough dry and crumbly, excess yeast will result in bread that has big air spaces in the middle.
Rolling a loaf needs a little bit of practice and patience. Make sure to roll tightly and seal the ends to get a perfect loaf shape.
Amish Wheat Bread
- 3 cups White flour or 375g
- 2 cup Wheat flour or 250g
- 1 cup Warm water 230ml
- 2 tablespoon Yeast or 10g
- ½ cup Sugar or honey
- 1 ½ teaspoon Salt
- 3 tablespoon Melted butter or vegetable oil
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, whisk the flour, sugar/honey, and yeast. Once mixed, add the salt and mix. (Do not let the salt and yeast get in contact, salt kills the yeast.)
- If you are using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and fix the bowl on the base of the stand mixer.
- To the dry ingredients, gradually add the water in the center of the flour as you mix. Add the vegetable oil or melted butter. A dough will begin to form after 5 minutes. If you are using a mixer, the dough hook will mix the dough for 10 minutes.
- If you are using your hand, roll up your sleeves and hit the gym a little hehe. On a clean floured surface, knead the dough by stretching it on the table with the edge of your hand. Do this several times. Bring the dough together to form a ball, and hit the dough on the kitchen counter.
- Repeat this process until you can stretch the dough. This process should take about 15 minutes. Form a ball of dough tucking the dough at the bottom.
- In a greased bowl, place the dough and cover with a film or a damp, clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for an hour and a half till it doubles its size.
- Once the dough has proofed, turn it over on a floured surface. Punch down with a fist removing the air.
- Use a bench scraper to divide your dough as you desire. (This amount of dough will yield one big loaf and 8 dinner rolls.) To make the loaf, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Roll over the dough in the same fashion as a cinnamon roll. Tuck in the bottom and seal with a slight pinch of the ends. Grease the loaf pan by applying oil or spray with cooking spray.
- Carefully lift the loaf into the loaf tin. Cover the tin with a plastic wrap or damp clean tea towel. Let the loaf rise to double the size. Though this step is optional, brush the loaf with water and sprinkle it with poppy seeds or oats.
- Cut the remaining dough into 8 pieces weighing about 75g. Roll into small round balls, fold in the dough, and tuck in the dough. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
- Place a dish of hot water in the lower rack of the oven to create a stream in the oven. The steam will make your crust softer.
- Bake the bread for about 30 to 45 minutes. Using a kitchen glove, get the loaf out of the oven. Tap the loaf, it should give a hollow sound. (When making sandwich bread, cover the top of the pan with a lid.)
- The smaller bread rolls will take a shorter time compared to the big loaf. Let the bread cool on a wire rack until warm before slicing.