Homemade matters to us. For my entire life, this recipe has been the standard of excellence in bread making. This is a bread dough recipe that my mother, Geneve, developed for her college Food Science final. I grew up with this bread and the smell of wheat grinding fresh in our family home. I remember mom always testing the fresh milled flour to be sure the wheat had not gone rancid in storage. Today...we milled wheat that I had put away when my first born son was born. Yup. 14 years ago. I turned into my mom today. I got really giddy to find it was still perfect wheat, ready for bread.
There was also only one bread mixer that she would ever openly praise. It was our family Bosch mixer from the Bosch Kitchen Store. It really was the only machine strong enough to handle this dough, because she made 5-6 loaves at a time. Repeat that several times a week. The machine lasted without a hick-up or need for a tune-up for most of my life. The last time I visited my mother, she was still using the same machine. She got the machine when I was about 2 years old...and I turn...(gulp) forty this year. Yup. Bosch mixer are that good.
Gathering around Mom’s mixer and watching the dough form into supple perfection was the highlight of my week and the very testing-ground for what became a baking passion for me. We had to watch as it "spun gold out of wheat" and I was able to see first-hand what proper protein development should look like in the bread making process. Baking bread with mom made me what I am today. Some of life’s richest lessons were taught around that bread-board.
She'd always dissect the fresh loaves and make sure they were up to her standard. I still do the same when I make mine.
- Is the crust thin, crisp, and uniformly colored?
- Is the crust tight to the loaf or did it separate?
- Is the loaf rounded, uniform in width size, and well domed?
- Is the taste mild and sweet with the flavor of the wheat?
- Are there any strong flavors?
- Is it overly yeasty, sour or salty?
- Is the texture silky and tender?
- Is the crumb fine?
- Are there any flour lumps or knots in the dough?
- Are the air holes uniform?
- Can you cut reasonable slices without the bread falling apart?
Life has taken me far from my mother’s home. If I think about it too much, I get misty-eyed. Now as a pastry chef and mother myself, her recipe for this remarkable bread remains a classic. I was reminded of this once again this week as we gathered around our mixer. Mine is the newest model, thanks to my friends at Bosch. The recipe...is still mom's.
It is called 5-day bread, but the dough can be made up to 7 days ahead of time. I still use it every single week! The dough is stored in a large bucket or covered bowl in the fridge. Sometimes I divide it between 4 gallon sized zipper bags. I love this dough made into rolls, pretzels, pizzas and yes, decorative ornate braided bread loaves. You’ll find this to be excellent dough to keep on hand for all your bread making needs. Don’t be dismayed by the number of ingredients in this bread, each one works with the other to make it perfect.
Chef Tess' Mom's 5-Day Bread
2 T active-dry yeast OR 1T SAF Instant premium yeast
4 c milk, scalded and cooled OR water (no hotter than 115 degrees)
3/4 c honey
4 large eggs
3/4 c oil (olive or melted coconut oil)
1 1/2 c mashed potatoes, cooled to body temperature
1T baking powder
14-15 cups fresh milled whole wheat bread flour ( tutorial on making-whole-grain-flour-at-home )
Directions: Dissolve yeast in milk (or water) in a Bosch Universal Mixer. Yeast does matter. I use this one because I know it works.
Stir in honey. Allow yeast to get foamy. Add egg, oil, mashed potato, baking powder, salt and 14 cups of fresh milled flour. Turn to speed 1 and combine about 30 seconds.
Increase speed to 3 and mix 4 ½ minutes until dough is soft and well developed but not dry.
It will look almost like spun golden yarn. That's what good protein development should look like in your bowl.
Allow dough to rest 10 minutes in the bowl (this gives the wheat time to absorb moisture). Don't skip this 10 minute resting step. You'll end up using way more flour than you need to in your bread and your bread will be dry. After 10 minutes, you should be able to pull a piece out and have it string 6-7 inches above the bowl without the dough breaking.
Add enough of the flour remaining to make soft dough that is easy to handle but not dry. More often than not, I don't have to add any more flour at all. Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface. Form into a ball. It should hold it's shape without melting into a blob on your counter-top.
Place dough in an ungreased 2-gallon bowl or food-grade bucket, covered tightly. If you don't have a large enough bowl...use two smaller bowls. Or...just half the recipe if you are worried about the dough growing all over your fridge outside of the container.
Put in the fridge, tightly covered.
Punch down after 2 hours (this may be faster if you use warm ingredients or flour). If the dough is over 85 degrees when you put it in the fridge, be sure to punch down sooner.
Form into a ball again. Cover tightly and chill at least 8 hours. This chilling step is what will give you the best taste in your bread. Long, slow, low fermentations of dough are unparalleled for flavor development and gluten elasticity. This fermentation process cannot be produced by adding artificial flavors or mixing longer mechanically. Some people try to mimic this process by adding extra chemical dough conditioners or added gluten powders. They are not necessary if you do this step correctly. They happen naturally by slowly raising in your fridge. This is the single most important step in making this bread remarkable and clean from added chemicals.
Be sure to punch down daily if keeping it more than a day or two (this not only expels gas, but also ensures even temperature in the dough). This will yield 4 standard sized loaves of bread. Yes. You can also use it for anything remarkable at this point. I have such a hard time not making it into at least a dozen cinnamon rolls...or apple pie rolls...
To bake a standard sized loaf: Divide dough in 4 equal portions, about 2 lbs of dough for standard loaves. Form each loaf using the loaf molding technique ( Loaf Molding Tutorial). Lightly coat the top of the loaf with melted butter and then lightly tent the loaves with plastic or plastic bags OR place in a moist place to rise. Allow to rise (1 -1 ½ hrs) until dough is about 1-2 inches above the edge of the pan. Lightly slit the top with a very sharp knife.
Bake in preheated 425° oven for 20 minutes then drop the temperature to 350 for the final 15-20 minutes of cooking.
Remove from pans and allow cooling completely before cutting.
I cut this loaf right from the oven.
Awww. See how it looks fuzzy instead of a clean texture?
Wait 30 minutes...and it slices a lot cleaner and nicer.
Yes. Mom was right. The best things in life cannot come from a store. They come from the heart. As I watched my kiddos rip into this gorgeous bread (while praising my name) I thought to myself, "This is it. This is why I do what I do." Make a memory. Share some love. Get the goodness into them! And by all means, move onward and upward!
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess