Everybody loves fresh bread – the smell of it baking, the steam that escapes when you just can’t wait to cut it, and that first bite, smeared in soft butter… If you can’t relate, I guess you should probably just stop reading.
As part of our continued quest for mostly-self-sufficiency, we’ve started to try to make all the bread we use. We upped the ante for this round, and soaked the flour for a day before baking, resulting in a pair of beautiful, delicious loaves of soaked whole wheat bread. I’ve talked about soaking before, and someday I’ll do a full post, but in a nutshell, soaking helps improve the nutrient availability and digestibility of grains and seeds. It’s not complicated, it just requires a bit of advance planning (and by advance planning, I’m talking 12 hours, not weeks, otherwise I wouldn’t bother either – 12 hours is about advanced as I can get).
The first part is the easiest, and also the most time-consuming (it’s all inactive time though).
In a large bowl, combine:
Mix well, adding more flour or water as needed – you want the dough to be fairly stiff, not too goopy. Cover and let sit overnight, or 12-18 hours.
When the soaking is done, add:
- 1 Tbsp yeast
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- ~ 1/4 cup organic sugar or honey
It’ll probably be hard to mix at this point, so dump it all out on the counter and start kneading, for a good 10 minutes. Add more flour if necessary – it should still be a bit sticky, but not overly so.
I do all my kneading by hand – it’s good exercise and stress-relief 🙂 Apparently, many people use mixers for their kneading, so if that’s you, knead with a dough hook for 5-7 minutes. Test the dough periodically – it’ll be good to go when you can stretch it pretty thin (to the point that it’s translucent) without it breaking.
Put it into a greased bowl, stick it in a warm spot, and let it rise for an hour.
After the first rise is done, dump the dough back onto the counter and cut into two roughly equal chunks. Gently press one into a rough rectangle, about the length of your loaf pan. Roll it up lengthwise, tuck the ends under, and place into your greased loaf pan, seam-side down. Repeat with the second chunk, then let rise for another hour.
Toward the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes, or until they’re golden and sound hollow when you hit the top.
Remove from the oven, and try to let it cool long enough before eating to avoid serious burns!