By L. Kevin Johnson
The following is adapted from Professor Edmond Szekely’s, "The Book of Living Foods – Natural-Organic-Ecological," originally published in 1977 by the International Biogenic Society. A current booklist is still available by writing to: I.B.S. International, P.O. Box 849, Nelson, BC, Canada V1L 6A5.
"How to make bread is not nearly as important as what goes in it. It is the quality of ingredients that determine whether or not bread is indeed the "staff of life" as in the lives of the ancient people, or the sickly commercial white loaf found in modern supermarkets. Perhaps the simplest recipe of history was the timesaving and extremely healthy method of the ancient Essenes, who germinated their wheat for three days, grinding it between two stones, formed them into thin wafers and then baked them on flat rocks in the sun. Of course, their bread-baking success was assured by the fact of their living in the intense heat of the desert near the banks of the Dead Sea. Since that time, recipes have become more and more complicated, especially today with the general myth that bread-making takes several days of hard labor and so it is easier just to buy it in the market. The only trouble with this theory is that bread, real bread, cannot be found in any market. As you will discover, making bread can be simple and easy- and the rewards of good health and renewed vitality make the little effort more than worthwhile.
"The heart of any bread is the whole-grain. But just as important as the necessity of the grain being whole (nothing removed from it), is that the grain be freshly ground into flour. No matter how healthy the grains may be, once they are ground, vitamins, enzymes and natural oils begin to deteriorate and disappear. Grains must be freshly ground if all the nourishment and flavor of the original staff of life is to be found in your "fresh from the oven" masterpiece. All sorts of grinders are available these days, from inexpensive hand grinders, which are good exercise, to slightly more expensive electric ones, to food processors for sprouted gains. If it seems a lot of trouble to grind your own flour, I would point out, respectfully, that it is also a lot of trouble to be tired, ill, and run down.
"To begin making sourdough bread use whole wheat flour that is absolutely fresh. Unless you can be sure the flour you buy, even from a health food store, has been recently ground (within two weeks), it is better to grind your own flour, using a home grain grinder. If you are able to find a fresh source of flour, make sure also that it is from organically grown wheat, with no additives or preservatives."
EarthStar Naturally Fermented Country Wheat /Rye Bread*
*(made only from wheat, rye, water and salt)
This recipe makes enough dough for 2 - 28 ounce loaves, (60% flour and 40% water and 1 ½% salt). You can add more or less whole wheat as you wish but I would recommend you try this light wheat recipe first. It kneads easier and is very tasty and highly superior to anything you can purchase in the supermarket.
It usually takes about three batches of bread before the sourdough starter is strong enough to produce a good rise. By the time you get to the fourth batch, the starter is mature enough to produce a great loaf of bread. Be patient with it. It’s worth it. Also please remember to wash hands and tools well to prevent contamination.
Stalking the wild yeast (making your own sourdough starter): Unless you are fortunate to find someone with an established sourdough starter, begin by making your own. Mix together in a glass or stainless steel bowl 2 cups of unbleached organic flour and 1-1/2 cups water. Cover with cheese cloth and place outside for 4-5 days. Be sure to stir a couple of times a day. After 2-3 days it should begin to bubble. When it does, feed the starter 3/4 cup water and 1 cup unbleached organic flour and stir well again. Let it continue to ferment. After 4-5 days it should produce about an inch of foam. If it doesn't or smells bad, through it out and start over in another spot. When the foam is formed stir the mixture well and place one cup of it into a glass or plastic container. Feed it 3/4 cup water and 1 cup flour as before. Use the remainder to make bread or discard. Let the storage culture sit out another 2 or 3 hours then place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Each time you use it, replace ¾ cup filtered water and 1 cup organically produced unbleached white flour. This will make a well hydrated, thick storage leaven. Let the culture sit out for at least 2 hours before replacing the lid and returning to the refrigerator. Revitalize it at least once a week by either using a cup of it or removing a cup and throwing it away. Feed it as above (3/4 cup of water and 1 cup of organic unbleached flour).
Making the bread :
These instructions make 2 loaves at 28 ounces each (25% whole grains and 75% unbleached)...Add more or less whole wheat as you wish...
In a glass or stainless steel bowl mix the following:
1 cup starter + 3\4 cup water + 1 cup flour...
Let ferment for 2 to 4 hours (at least)
Then add the following to the mixing bowl:
2 cups whole wheat and rye blend (1-1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup rye flour)
3 cups unbleached organic flour
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 teaspoons celtic salt
12 ounces of water (by weight). This is about 1-1/3 cups of water
Mix this stiff dough together until it is well moistened. Add a little more water if you have too, but not too much. Cover with a clean cloth and let ferment for 6-8 hours at 72 - 85 degrees F.
When ready it should plop right out of the bowl. Use only a small amount of flour (about 2 ounces) and knead the dough for about five minutes. Rest it for ten minutes and repeat one more time... (kneed 5 min., rest 10 min.)
Now cut the dough into two lumps, shape them into tight balls and place them in proofing baskets lined with linen cloth. Let proof (rise) for 2-4 hours depending on how active your leaven is.
Transfer to baking stone in preheated oven. Bake at 500 degrees. Be sure to steam your oven during the first 10 minutes, then once again about halfway through the process. Be sure to reduce the heat to about 400 degrees during the last 15 minutes and finish baking. It should be done in about 35 minutes all together.
Best of luck....You'll love it .. it's much much easier this way!! Let me know what happens.
Another way of baking:
Use a non-stick baking sheet or (2) 8" or 6" cast iron skillets for baking the loaves. Do not use aluminum! And do not use regular cooking oil on the pans. Heated oil is disastrous to your health. (The only exception I would recommend is in using organic coconut oil. It is better in high heat applications.) We also found that simply sprinkling a layer of rolled oats on the pan keeps the dough from sticking. Let the dough rise for 2 -4 hours and bake at 375 degrees for at least one hour. To make a thin crust, squirt or mist the oven. The bread is done when you can smell it and the dough looks like it has pulled slightly away from the pan. After the baking is complete, remove from pans and let them cool completely.
How to take care of Sourdough Bread!
Eat bread fresh. Do not store sourdough bread in the refrigerator (Ever!).
Refrigerating it makes it stale quickly.