My Favorite Bread

There are very few simple things in life. Sometimes I get burdened down with the complexities of getting through each day. My goal is to simplify and do less needless work instead of more. Therefore, if a recipe for home made, artisan, organic, succulent, sour dough, ancient grain bread, with the perfect moist crumb structure that never crumbles, and slices sandwich thin, sounds like complex busy work, think again!

Once a week, or twice, as your family gets addicted to this bread, you can spend twenty minutes from grinding to everything wiped clean. It takes more brain space for me to remember to buy bread at the store! And the taste, if you like real bread, is unsurpassable

I don’t have space to delve into the complexities of this nutritional powerhouse, but one thought to chew on is that unless your bread is made with soured dough, or sprouted, it is laden with phytates, which make your bread very hard to digest. They bind with certain vitamins and minerals in your body and leech them out in your pee. Yuk! The digestibility of the nutrients in the grain is another reason to enjoy sour dough bread. Beside its delicious, distinctive taste, many people with grain allergies do well with true sour dough bread.

This recipe is made with two grains, primarily rye and a little spelt. My reason for choosing these grains is as follows. Rye is the cheapest grain to purchase in bulk, which is a plus for big families on a tight budget. Rye also boasts the most fiber of any other grain which makes it super colon friendly. Rye, being so high in fiber, makes the glycemic index of this bread less than other grain breads.

The fact that it is soured slows the speed with which this energy food turns to sugar in the blood stream, which means it is a boon for those who are trying to watch their carbohydrate intake. Of course, if you are over 30 and don’t have a speedy Gonzales metabolism, don’t reach for more than two pieces at one sitting.  I usually eat one large hunk, drizzled with cold pressed oil or raw butter.  My children, who burn more carbs for energy, eat almost five slices at once when they are really hungry.

My reason for choosing spelt is because it is high in protein and a non-hybridized ancient grain. It also gives the mixture a nice spongy texture. This recipe is centered on these two grains and their proportions. It took a whole summer (nearly four years ago) of experimenting to come up with this mix.

Try it first with these particular grains in their exact measurements I have listed. If you would prefer to use all wheat, or other grains, feel free to experiment. You may have to change the proportions of water to flour, or the wetness of the mixture. The key to this recipe is to make a very wet dough. If you achieve this, you will reap super soft loaves and not hard bricks.

SERENE ALLISON
Primm Springs, Tennessee, USA

 

SOUR DOUGH BREAD

Ingredients:

2 quarts home grown rye-fed sour dough starter
6 ½ cups rye flour (freshly ground if possible)
6 ½ cups spelt flour (freshly ground is possible)
2 ½ Tbs. Sea salt
1 ½ quarts water--more or less as needed. The important thing is to get the right gooey, wet, oatmeal porridge consistency.

Method:

1.    Put all ingredients in order in a large pot or bowl and knead with a big wooden rolling pin (or wooden spoon or some other device) by pulling the pin towards you and pushing it away from you--about five minutes, or 10 minutes for those who want extra toned arms.  You can even get your hands into the gooey mixture and kneed, washing well when finished. You cannot knead this mixture on a counter. It is meant to look and feel like goo.

2.    To check for the perfect consistency, test midway kneading, rather than at the beginning as it will get thicker when the gluten fibers start coming together. 

3.    Put in buttered pans to rise. I raise my bread for at least seven hours for a good rise. Sometimes you will get the height you want after only four hours but the phytates will not be removed until at least seven hours. I either make the bread in the morning and bake for evening dinner or make it in the evening and bake for breakfast.

4.    Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

5.    If you want to go all the way, you can put a pan of water in the bottom tray underneath the pans, which steams your bread and cook your bread in ceramic bread tins. It will give the most excellent crust.

6.    To put this gooey mixture into your tins, wet a cereal bowl, dip it into the bowl and flop it into your pans. Each pan should be a generous half full. Wet your hands and flatten the bread with the slap of a wet palm.

The above recipe makes five loaves. If you don’t need that many, you could halve the recipe.

SOUR DOUGH STARTER

Method:

1.    In a sterilized bowl (pour boiling water over it to sterilize) add one cup of rye flour and one cup of pure water. Keep it on your counter top with a breathable cloth. Every day for seven days swap it to a new clean sterilized bowl and add one extra cup of rye flour and one extra cup of water. You swap bowls to make sure you do not catch bad bacteria while catching your wild yeast from the air.

2.    After seven days your starter should be bubbly and spongy and should smell good and sour. If you have caught your yeast, put your new starter into a clean home--a plastic or glass bowl that will hold three quarts of liquid. Never use metal. There is no need to switch bowls any more.

3.    It is now a family pet. Take it out and clean its home once a month. Feed it one cup of flour and one cup of water every day. Cover with a breathable cloth--I use a nylon mesh bag from the regular painting store. These are fantastic as they allow air in and keep insects out.

4.    When you feed your starter and stir it around, you may only use plastic or wooden utensils. No metal please or you will kill your new pet.

5.    Use your starter and bake again when your starter has grown back. Always leave at least one cup to grow within its starter house. If you caught a good starter your bread should rise nice and lofty and never be like a brick.

HELPFUL HINTS


1.    If for some reason you don’t leave a cup, but only a spoonful, then feed it one spoonful of flour and one spoonful of water. In a few hours, feed it two spoonfuls of each and then in a few hours again four of each until you have your cup and you can continue as usual.

2.    Sometimes you will want to bake sooner than your starter will grow. In this case, if you have a quart of starter, you can feed it a quart of flour and a quart of water each day. The key is not to feed more food to your starter than the volume of your starter. You will dilute it too much and it will die.

3.    My mother and I have kept our pet alive for nearly four years from when I first made the starter. A good idea is to share some of your starter with a friend. If you go away or forget to keep it going, you may be able to get some back from her. Mom has come to my rescue on a couple of occasions.

4.    If for some reason you can’t catch a starter (in some places the wild yeast may not be as prolific), order one on line. Feed it as I explained. Feed it only rye flour for this bread recipe to succeed.


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