I am so happy that I can finally make bread that looks pretty like my sister’s artisan-bread-in-5-minutes a day, and also have it be whole wheat! I finally took the time to crack open the book she gave me, pictured below, and learned how to add the artisan touches: shaping the round loaves (boules, if you want to be fancy), dusting flour, I use arrowroot, and making the slashes.
She gave me the book a few years ago as a gift, and I kept thinking that I was too overwhelmed how to figure out how to adapt my Nourishing Traditions preferences to the book. The book uses white flour and I just didn’t want to discard my whole food preferences to make white bread. But finally curiosity got the better of me. Also vanity and pride, I have to admit, and a little sisterly competition. I didn’t like that so far the batches of bread I had been making looked like rough-hewn pieces of wood chopped by peasants instead of the pretty boules my sister turned out. I finally just decided I wouldn’t worry about the fact that I didn’t have a baking stone, as recommended in the book, and I would be open enough to mistakes as I cracked open her gift and learned at least how to shape the bread.
I think the authors picked up on my vibes of desire for a whole foods version, so they came out with this book, below:
But the authors don’t address the concern that Sally Fallon brings up in her Nourshing Traditions cookbook, which is that whole grains have phytic acid in them. This is both a blessing and a curse. It keeps grain from spoiling, but if you prepare food from the whole grain without properly neutralizing the phytic acid, the phytic acid keeps your body from absorbing the nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Sarah Pope, the blogger over here, reports that she overheard Rami Nagel saying that this is why whole grains can cause cavities. After all, if your body isn’t absorbing calcium from the improperly prepared grains you are eating, your teeth won’t be as strong.
I tried making the sourdough recipe in the Nourishing Traditions book pictured above. I even hosted a class with my midwife teaching my friends all about how to make it. I bribed my son to push his baby brother around the block in a stroller so I could have an hour of uninterrupted time to work on it. But mine was a dismal failure, a brick of a loaf that ended up in the garbage heap.
So then I went back to making bread every day in our bread machine. With homeschooling and seven kids on top of normal life things got really crazy. So then, gasp, I started using grocery-store bread, Horrors, I know. I did miss my homemade bread. After my bread-making hiatus I am finally back in the swing of it and having so much fun with a different recipe.
This recipe is not from either Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book, but from my friend Caralee. Not only is it whole wheat, but since it involves soaking the dough in an acidic medium overnight, it is Sally Fallon-approved. That means it is more digestible to eat and much more nutritious than white bread. My friend Caralee created the recipe. Caralee is a Weston Price Chapter Leader. She submitted the recipe to Sally Fallon and got it approved.
Here is the recipe:
The night before you want to bake bread, mix together
9 cups whole wheat flour
1 T baking soda
1 T salt
Mix thoroughly, then add
4 C water with 1 T apple cider vinegar or whey per cup of water
(I just started making yogurt from whole raw milk, so now I have leftover whey that I can use for soaking dough. I love these symbiotic relationships of natural living.)
Caralee actually uses 3 C buttermilk and 1 C water. I have adapted her recipe to what i have. Here is her original recipe so you can compare.
Mix as you scrape the sides of the bowl, rotating the bowl as you go. Keep mixing until you have a uniform ball of dough. Cover with a clean towel and leave on the countertop until ready to bake the next day. When you are ready to bake the next day, mix in 1/2 c of melted butter or coconut oil. Then shape into the desired bread product.
For boules, see my instructions below. For baguettes, divide into two and shape into logs. I can fit two onto a greased jelly roll pan. Slash across the top if desired. Bake at 450 for 20 -25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For lazy bread sticks, divide the dough in half and spread into two greased jelly roll pans. Add desired toppings, like cinnamon and whole sugar or grated cheese. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown and same as above, a toothpick comes out clean. Cut with a pizza cutter.
For prettier bread sticks that take effort, you can divide the dough into balls, roll into snakes, and then twist. Use your creativity. I don’t have a picture because I haven’t done it that way yet. For pizza crust, spread in the jelly roll pans, bake the same as for lazy breadsticks, and then add sauce and toppings, and bake again to melt the cheese for ten minutes. Pictured below is my white bean pizza using Caralee’s soaked bread dough as the crust.
For boules (the fancy French for the loaves pictured at the top) divide dough into half then half again, so you have four grapefruit mounds. This is what I learned from the Artisan Bread book. You make a “gluten cloak” by rotating the dough a quarter turn as you pull the top of the dough towards the outer edge and then tuck it below. This makes the top smooth. I can fit four boules on one jelly roll pan. Dust with arrowroot flour (if you care about eating raw, unsoaked whole wheat flour). Then you slash with a knife to achieve what I thought was the “artisan” effect. You can do a cross, or a fan shape of five slashes, or a tic tac toe. I had fun getting my inner bread artist out, but, after several days, then I found out that when It’s time to slice the bread, the tic tac toe design makes it harder to slice. I found out I could just do away with the designs and the bread was much easier to slice. But my sister says it’s necessary to slash the bread to let the heat escape so the bread doesn’t burst. I didn’t know that and with my recipe the bread didn’t burst even with no slashing. Ignorance is bliss I guess. The book also says to bake the loaves with a pan of water in the bottom. The steam makes the crust crispy. For Caralee’s recipe I tried it either way, with the water and without, and found it doesn’t make a difference.
I also found out from actually reading the book instead of just the recipe that the dusting is to keep the bread from tearing as you slash it, it’s not just to look artsy. You can also just wet the dough with drops of water to make it easier to slash. The artisan effect actually comes from the fact that the bread interior, or “crumb” bakes to perfection: a “custard” texture that is not too wet to make it gummy, and not dry. The crumb of my artisan bread tastes best fresh from the oven with butter smothered on it.
This is the best whole wheat bread recipe ever! Do you want to know why?
Because it is…
- yeast free! A bonus for people on yeast-free diets
- simple, only six ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, acidic medium, water, and butter) No yeast, no honey, and no synthetic, hard to pronounce junk you find in grocery store bread!
- uses long-term food storage items
- nutrient dense (I eat three or four slices smothered with butter, that’s the key, and I feel satisfied. Try that with your pasty, store-bought bread)
- versatile (you can make this dough into so many things, as my pictures show: artisan bread in the form of boules, baguettes, cloverleaf rolls, focaccia bread, bread sticks, pizza, and even cinnamon rolls!) Once I got into the habit of soaking my bread dough every night, it got to be fun to figure out what to do with it the next day as an accompaniment to the meals I was fixing. If I have soup planned, then I will do bread sticks. If we want Italian chicken sandwiches, we will do focaccia bread. The only problem is that it’s hard to make big loaves of sandwich bread with it. The dough is so dense that if you bake it in regular loaf pans, the loaves don’t always bake through to the center. Bake at 350 for about an hour until nicely browned on top and use small loaf pans. .