I remember baking at my grandmother's house with my Aunt Mimi when I was little. Or, I should say, I remember her baking and me watching the loaves as they took their sweet time rising on the fireplace hearth. Mimi always made me my very own mini loaf, and I could hardly stand the wait until it was baked. Then, she'd cut little slices off for me and slather them in butter.
Heaven. Pure heaven.
To this day I love the smell of yeast, and there's nothing better than a home filled with the aroma of baking bread.
Alas, I never seem to have the time to bake those wonderful breads that Mimi always made. Then I discovered Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zöe François and I thought, "Well, I can certainly spare a few minutes for fresh baked bread!" The trick to this five minute method is not kneading the dough. Fascinating, huh!? You simply mix the ingredients in a container and let them sit for a couple of hours to do its business, then you just shape the bread and bake it. Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (their second book which followed Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) contains delicious whole grain breads; breads full of yummy nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables; as well as vegan and gluten-free recipes. It's also chock full of tips and techniques, a must for baking!
My favorite is the German Vollkornbrot, a 100% whole grain bread. And seriously, not having to knead the bread truly does save a lot of time! Not to mention my back! Though having those bakers arms wouldn't be such a bad thing...
Printed courtesy of the authors (pg. 83)
"Vollkornbrot is German for "whole kernel bread," so to make an authentic one, you need to find some wheat or rye berries. The result is a 100% whole grain loaf that is rustic, hearty, and moist - perfect when sliced thinly, slathered with butter, and topped with smoked fish, cold cuts, or cheese.
Because of the high quantity of grains, this dough is not worked like most. The dough has little resiliency, and you can't tightly shape it; just press the dough into the shape you want. Don't expect a lot of rising during the long (2-hour) resting time after shaping."
Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.
5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat berries
1 cup rye flakes
1.5 tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons molasses
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, wheat berries, rye flakes, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Combine the water and molasses and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days, but do not use the dough until it has aged at least 24 hours (to give the whole kernels a chance to absorb water).
5. On baking day, lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6. Elongate the ball into an oval and place it into a loaf pan; your goal is to fill the pan about three-quarters full. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 2 hours.
7. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty metal broiler tray on any other rack that won't interfere with the rising bread.
8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water.
9. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 45 minutes, until richly browned and firm.
10. Remove the loaf from the pan and allow the bread to cool on a rack before slicing thinly and eating.