We had the great pleasure of attending a bread-making workshop offered as part of the local fall festival. The goal in attending was to get us motivated again to make our own bread. It worked! We are now making bread almost every day.
There appears to be a new trend in bread-making where the focus is “home-made bread in only 5 minutes!”. There is a very interesting book that we picked up at the library “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. We have not made our way through the entire book so we have gone back to what we learned at our two-hour seminar and we have been enjoying super-tasty, home-made bread ever since. We learned that there is no need to knead our bread (the most time-consuming part of bread-making) as the gluten forms on its own once water is added to the flour. Gluten is only present in wheat so obtain enough sponge to our bread, we are using ony wheat flour (only until we have enough experience under our belt to start experimenting with other blends). So, all that we need to do is throw the ingredients in a bowl and let the dough activate/rise/rise again for 12 hours before baking.
Generally, we are die-hard whole-wheat eaters (we bake, cook, use only freshly-ground whole-wheat which we grind in our amazing, always impressive grain mill) but since we are away from home for a while, we have had to resort to store-bought flour and have also picked up some unbleached all-purpose flour. We thought that we would follow the exact recipes for now, until we got our bearings, and then revert to our 100% whole wheat practices. Most recipes avoid 100% whole wheat recipes since it makes for a heavier loaf but we do not mind dense bread. The nice thing about the 12-hour wait time before baking is that it lets our grains soak before eating them. Did you know that (thank you to www.TheNourishingGourmet.com for this summary)…
Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, clocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important predigestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures. Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, Pg 25
In addition, with this recipe, the amount of yeast needed is much less than with most bread recipes. Once we get back home, in our own kitchen, we will also switch back to our sourdough but for now, we are using yeast (many people shy away from sourdough but we actually found it quite easy to work with, but we will get into that later). We may be infringing some copyright rules in posting the following recipe but we will offer the credentials so hopefully this is okay. This recipe comes from The Best of Chef at Home by Michael Smith.
5 cups of flour (we have used up to 3 cups of whole wheat and 2 cups of unbleached all-purpose)
1/2 tsp (heaping) active dry yeast
1-2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 cups warm water
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Add the water and mix through using the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rest in a warm place for 10-12 hours. Then punch the dough down, place in an oiled bread tin and let rise a second time for several hours. Bake in preheated oven at 425F for about 40-45 minutes.