The Best Bread

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I have been a terrible, horrible blogger. I have started and not completed at least half a dozen posts in the last two months, busy with travel, house guests, volunteer commitments, an out of control vegetable garden, and unfortunately, more fatalities in our unit. It has been a chaotic deployment, to put it nicely! Then, the feeling of “Meh, I’ve already failed, it can wait a while longer” set in. And now I have a recipe worth shouting from the rooftops that got me back on my game.

It is based on a recipe from Red Star yeast, but as I’ve said before, I avoid using instant yeast whenever possible. It contributes to all the gluten/digestive issues people are becoming more aware of as commercial bread makings becomes faster and faker with dough conditioners and ultra processed yeast to make bread in 30 minutes that once took 12 hours. Studies show that the hours of fermentation in naturally leavened bread actually breaks down gluten into a harmless form. I encourage you to seek out scholarly research on the health benefits of naturally leavened bread (known as sourdough, although it need not be sour at all). Dr. Terry Graham, professor of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, has found some surprising results summarized here: http://www.bakersjournal.com/content/view/1245/ and the study’s full results in the British Journal of Nutrition here.

In fact, the best simple, straightforward explanation of the scientific basis of my bread making choices I stumbled across on an artisan bakery’s web page, and I encourage yall to scroll down to the “benefits of…” sections of this page which explain in in a nutshell: the effects of natural leaven on bran, the nutritional qualities of rye and spelt, and the benefits of organic and whole grains (versus commercially milled whole wheat). Okay, enough preaching, on to the bread.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe, which rises for 8-12 hours and despite the low-gluten ingredient list, still has a perfect bread texture 🙂

  • 1/2 cup raw/demerara sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (110°-115°F)
  • 1 tsp (1/2 packet) Active Dry Yeast (dry active is slower than instant or quick rise yeast)
  • 1 1/2 c unfed sourdough starter
  • 1/2 c boiling water
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (flax seeds can be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour plus extra as needed.

Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 2 t milk
  • 2 t honey

In stand mixer bowl, mix warm milk, sugar,and yeast, leave to rise 10 minutes. While the yeast is poofing, add the oats to the hot water right in your measuring cup if it’s large enough. Then mix in everything up to the flours by hand with a whisk. Whisk in the whole wheat and almond flour, which should make a wet dough/thick batter. Get the bowl settled into the mixer and using the dough hook, mix in the bread flour half a cup at a time. It should still be a tacky but add flour until it will form a ball, maybe a few additional tablespoons. Knead on medium speed for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 8 hours (up to 12 depending on the temperature). I left mine in a 73 degree kitchen overnight about 10 hours and it over rose a little. Still tasted great and had a nice texture, not too dense, but it would have been even better if I’d only left for 9 hours.

Best bread dough

Pre-heat oven to 375. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; knead each portion into ball (I made one loaf and 6 rolls, both came out great) For loaves: using rolling pin, gently roll each into rectangle the length of loaf pan. Roll up into cylinder; pinch along bottom to seal. Fold each end of loaf in and pinch to seal. Place into prepared pans. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. For rolls: divide whole batch in 12 or half batch in 6, shape and smooth, then flatten down a bit on the tray, leave to rise 30 mins. Whisk together egg,  milk, and honey, and brush the dough thoroughly with glaze.

Bake rolls for 20 minutes or until golden brown, bake loafs 30-35 minutes. Remove the loaves from pans to cool on a wire rack (or the bottoms will get soggy, this is a nice moist, chewy bread).

This recipe could definitely hold up to a 1/4 cup of bran thrown in the mix, and I will update when I test a batch including bran. Please comment if you give it a shot!