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This bread recipe is adapted from the original recipe at Cultures for Health. (The picture shown there is for white bread and a white starter; a whole wheat bread is going to be a lot more dense and more brown in color.) This recipe is as simple as 1-2-3!
This recipe is the most straightforward and frugal, requiring no fancy equipment. The dough can be fermented for a full 24 hours to completely digest the whole grains and remove deleterious phytic acid. The bread is quite dense, tart, and moist: perfect for serving with soups and salads. Spread raw honey on it to help aid digestion and balance the sour flavor. You can double the recipe for a larger loaf.
- 1 cup of filtered water (no chlorine DPBs or fluoride)
- 2 cups of starter (white or whole wheat)
- 2 teaspoons of Real Salt
- 3 cups of organic whole wheat flour (I use the King Arthur brand)
- 1-2 TBSP Ghee (optional)
- Glass bowl
- Mixing spoon
- 1 tsp and 1 cup measures
- 9″ x 5″ Bread pan (if using nonstick, line with parchment paper; cast iron is best)
- Meat thermometer
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in the glass bowl with a mixing spoon. Let the mixture rest for 20 minutes.
- Knead the dough with as little additional flour as possible. The wetness of the dough will depend on the wetness of your starter. If your dough is very wet, try moving it around in an S-pattern pattern followed by a push back up to the top; a dough scraper may come in handy every so often to help group the dough together. If your dough seems quite dry, poke a hole in the top (not all the way through) and add a tablespoon or two of water; knead and repeat until the dough is slightly “sticky”. The kneading is finished when dough passes the windowpane test (if pinched off and pulled apart, a piece of dough will become translucent rather than break).
- Shape the dough into a loaf by tucking the sides in underneath it until the gluten is pulled taut across the top. Rub the Ghee over the dough “ball” (optional). You can put it into the bread pan immediately or put it back into the mixing bowl to rise twice. If you put it in the mixing bowl, let the dough double in size before punching it down, kneading it briefly, reshaping it, and putting it into the bread pan. Once in the bread pan, allow the dough to double in size again before baking. This whole process can take anywhere from 4 to 24 hours: if you want to aim for a longer rise time, allow the dough to rise in a cool environment (around 70F); if a shorter time is desired, allow the dough to rise in a warm environment (around 78F) or in the oven with the light on.
- Cut an X in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife; bake at 375F (Gas) or 400F (Electric) for approximately 40 minutes. Check the bread at 30 minutes; if a meat thermometer inserted from the side into the middle of the loaf is at 180F, cook for another 5 minutes. If it is not even close, cook for another ten minutes and check again. The internal temperature should be around 200F before removing from the oven. Once you know how long that will take, you won’t have to use the thermometer again! If the crust is too dark for you, cook your next loaf of this bread at 25-degrees lower for an additional 10-15 minutes, checking the internal temperature of the bread as before.
- Allow the pan to rest for five minutes; remove the loaf. Turn the bread over, “bottoms up”, so it bottom doesn’t get soggy. Let the loaf rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Store in a plastic container once cool if you don’t have a bread bin. This bread should last for one week before becoming stale. Stale bread may be used to make breadcrumbs (scroll down to bottom).