Thursday, May 7, 2015

Natural Yeast Bread

After one year on the GAPS diet to heal our tummies and minds, we felt it was time to give natural yeast products a try.  Natural yeast is amazing.  It breaks down the grains before they hit your digestive system, so the body can access the nutrients it needs from the grains without fighting tough-to-digest gluten and other parts that are hard on the tummy.  After being gluten and grain-free for a year, I was stressed about trying it...we had a few experiences with gluten (most of them accidental snacks shared by friends to my children), and we knew we had gluten-sensitive tummies.  I attended a class and got a natural yeast start.  We gave it a go, and WOW.  We've been eating bread every day for two months without tummy problems.  I was making two batches a day (4 loaves), so I tweaked the recipe around until it tasted good to us and gave me three loaves, one for each meal.  It costs around 50 cents a loaf to make (we grind our own wheat), and is saving my family over $200 a month in food expenses.  So grateful.  Happy breadmaking!

Whole Wheat Natural Yeast Bread

3/8 cup natural yeast
3 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
10-12 cups of whole wheat flour

This recipe makes 3 loaves of bread.  I burned out two KitchenAid mixers making this daily, so I've switched to Bosch and have had success without killing the motor.  If you need instructions on how to work with bread, and what to look for in textures, you can find many tutorials on YouTube.  I adapted recipes I've used for years from Kathy Summers' book Handmade Breads as well as the knowledge from Melissa Richardson's book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast.

Place natural yeast, warm water, salt, and olive oil in mixing bowl.  Stir.  Add 7 cups whole wheat flour, mix until combined.  Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at at time until desired consistency is achieved.  Knead well.  Place in a large covered bowl on the counter to sour for 6-12 hours.  I use plastic wrap or plastic lid to keep dough from drying out in my dry mountain climate.  After souring is complete, divide dough into 3 pieces, and shape in to loaves.  Remember that any extra flour you add at this point will not be pre-digested by the yeast, so if you are gluten sensitive, it can cause a reaction.  When shaping the dough, I use butter on my fingers to keep the dough from sticking to my hands.  Place shaped dough in greased pans.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, of until cooked through.

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