Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Ferment Your Bread

There have been a few questions asked of me about when I mention fermented bread products.  I guess they must mean the stuff that I make as I have not really seen anything about this process on the internet before.  There are of course lots of recipes for sourdough, but that is an entirely different process.  Generally sourdoughs are made using either wild yeasts or a purchased commercial starter culture which is then added to flour and water and allowed to grow.  This mix provides a true sour flavor to the finished product and also provides the leavening agent to give the bread the typical airiness and crumb texture we expect of bread.  This gives us a nice flavor, a firmer texture than non-sour breads, but does not actually give us what we really need, the neutralization of the lectins and phytates that are in wheat flour.  If we can get rid of those, then we are getting the nutrition available in good whole wheat without the anti-nutrient properties that the lectins and phytates possess. 

Fermented bread.  Start the night before you want to make the bread.  Grind your wheat into flour, or if you must purchase pre ground flour, then buy a variety packed in nitrogen such as King Arthur.  This allows greater nutrient density and less chance of the wheat germ having turned rancid from exposure to oxygen.  Now, take a 500 mg tablet of Vitamin C and crush it, dissolve it in 2 cups of water.  Add a half cup of plain Greek yogurt or Kefir.  Either one will give us the necessary bacteria to get our ferment going.  Now, add a half teaspoon of sea salt and turn on the mixer and add just enough flour to make a thick paste.  Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and then let it sit overnight, or at least 3 or 4 hours.  After having sat, then take a packet of regular yeast and dissolve it in a third cup of warm water.  Allow to sit a few minutes or until bubbly.  Dump it into the mixer along with a stick of butter or you can also use a half cup of olive oil.  Turn the mixer on slow and allow to mix until all is integrated.  If it is very thick and won't stay in the mixer bowl, add a bit of water.  If too thin, add just enough flour to where the dough pulls from the sides of the bowl.  Knead on low for ten minutes and then allow to rest.  Of course this so far did not have any added sugars, if you want honey added, do that the night before, but honey is only good if you are making a sweeter bread or cinnamon rolls.  No sweetener, and it does have a vaguely sour taste to it.  After an hour, the dough should be rising quite nicely.  Turn the mixer on again and now is the time to add dried herbs, cheese, olives or whatever.  Allow to rise again covered until double, then mix again and form loaves or rolls or roll it out flat to make cinnamon rolls or pizza.  The option to add all three above makes for a fantastic herbed olive cheese bread that is spectacular.  But just as easily you can dice some drained jarred jalapenos and some diced cheddar.  Or rosemary, cranberries and sunflower seeds.  Or oatmeal, and when the loaves or rolls are formed, brush with beaten egg and top with more rolled oats.  Or sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and lots of garlic and oregano.  Or, well, make something up. 

This is the basics, a quick recipe that in reality takes about thirty minutes of actual time, a few minutes the night before, then ten or so minutes each time doing the mixing, shaping and baking, all spaced out over a couple hours that you can do other things while it rests, rises and bakes.  I wrote a series of articles about making healthy foods, like wheat, healthier.  Here is the first in the series, the other five are here on the blog all in mid May.  (Healthy to Healthier

Sometime try reading the label on the bread you buy, then look up the things you can't pronounce.  You will be shocked.  Most of that stuff is toxic.  Bon apetite'

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