I have another reader request to fulfill! I love responding to questions and requests from my readers, so please keep them coming!
Today, I'll be sharing my fermented bread recipe. I have tweaked mine over the past couple years and now it's the EASIEST and BEST... in my opinion.
1. It's no knead. Meaning you don't need a Kitchen Aid, you don't need to stand for 10 minutes wondering if you're kneading right, you don't need to do a "gluten" test, you just mix and you're done.
2. It's kid friendly. Seriously. Even a 100% whole wheat loaf is one my kids eat. I've done this with part rye and they still eat it. Don't think fermented = no kids! This recipe I've developed is super kid friendly!
3. It is over half whole wheat. Meaning, it's Mom approved. Store bought breads and even recipes online are generally 100% refined white flour. Nothing wrong with that, except it is treated like sugar in your body. Whole wheat flour sits longer in your body, makes you feel full sooner and longer.
4. Cheap. This bread costs pennies to make, and it fills you up so you can't eat half a loaf like you might be able to with a bread made with white flour.
So - onto the recipe.
This is not a "do this exactly or it won't turn out" kind of recipe. You can play around with it to get what your family loves.
Don't want to use wheat berries, that's fine! Use conventional pre-ground whole wheat flour.
Want less whole wheat? Great! Use 1 part whole wheat and 2 parts white.
Want it all whole wheat? Go for it! (It's going to be more dense, but totally doable.)
Want to use all water or all milk? Gutpela!
This is just the recipe I've found my family likes the best and is the most versatile for everything from sandwiches to croutons to butter and honey to grilled cheese.
The Easiest Whole Wheat Bread in the World
1 3/4 cup wheat berries: 1 cup hard white,
3/4 cup hard red*
1 cup white flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water**
2 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1. Grind the wheat berries in your mill or vitamix container. If you're using a vitamix, be sure and grind for a full minute to make sure no hard pieces of berry are left to crunch on in your soft bread.
2. Once your flour is made, add it into a separate bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients, plus the honey. I love using my Pampered Chef Batter Bowl for fermented bread.
3. Start with adding 2 cups of liquid (1 1/2 for pre-ground flour). You are going for a wet consistency - think cake batter instead of the typical bread dough. Watch the video below for a visual. It doesn't need to be exact, but aim for more wet if you're unsure, ESPECIALLY if you're using freshly ground wheat.
4. Once you've reached the correct consistency, cover the bowl and place in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight or cool drafts. This is one of the reasons I love using my Pampered Chef bowl - the lid fits perfectly for slow fermented bread!
You don't need it to be that "perfect 70 degrees" spot that you often hear when people talk about regular yeast bread. This is a slow ferment bread, it has longer to work. It's very hard to mess up this bread, again EASIEST bread ever.
5. Let it ferment for 12 to 24 hours. As with all ferments, the longer you let it go, the more tart the flavor will be. I usually aim for about 15 hours, but I've gone as long as 26 hours, and as short as 8. ***
6. You want to see that the dough has roughly doubled in size. Again, not super important (like sourdough) but if it has doubled, you know it has gone long enough for the kneading to happen without kneading - make sense? ;) Basically, rather than kneading it after mixing all the ingredients together, you're letting it ferment. By letting it ferment, you are doing the same thing scientifically that kneading does, without the kneading. Cool, huh?
7. At this point, take your dough and place it in a bread pan. If you have a glass or metal pan, be sure to grease it. I use a Pampered Chef Loaf Pan, so I don't need to grease it.
8. This next step is optional. I usually do it (assuming I'm not rushing) because it results in a softer loaf, which results in my family liking it more.
Place a cover over your loaf, and find the perfect bread womb for it to rise. My favorite spot is in the oven with the light on (oven is turned off!). You could also place it on top of your fridge or on a warming mat. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. I've skipped this step and forgotten about it for 2 hours - both times have resulted in great bread. Again, EASIEST bread ever!
Once you're ready to bake, remove the covering and turn your oven to 425. No need to pre-heat. Place the bread in, and let it bake about 15 minutes before lowering the heat to 350.
Sound too complicated?
Then skip the 425 part!
Just set your oven to 350 and let it bake! All the higher heat does is give it a browner crust. It flash cooks the outside, and then the lower temp cooks the insides. With a steady temp of 350, it bakes evenly.
I've done both, and both result in great bread. Do I need to say it again?
EASIEST BREAD EVER!
9. You'll be baking your bread about 25 minutes, but times will vary based on the water content of your dough, whether you used fresh wheat or not, and humidity.
Ways to tell your bread is done cooking:
1. Use a thermometer. Your bread is finished when it is about 190 degrees.
2. The hollow tap test. Knock on the loaf while its in the oven. If it sounds hollow, your bread is likely done. If it sounds dense or doesn't make a sound, let it bake another few minutes.
3. The bottom push test. If you've taken your bread out and you think its done but want to double check, turn the bread upside down and push the bottom dough in. If it pops back out, the loaf is done. If it sinks in and stays, you need to bake it some more.
Check out this video for more details on how to know if your bread is done.
Once your bread is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes. Then take the loaf out of the pan, and let it cool the rest of the way on a rack.
Then, slice yourself a thick piece, slather it with butter and eat away!
If you're a visual type person, here's a video of the whole process from grinding the flour to baking the bread.
*If you're using pre-ground flour, you'll need 2 cups of whole wheat. I use hard white and hard red, but you can use any mix you want. I've done hard red and rye, hard white and rye, soft white, hard red and hard white, and all hard red.
**If you're using pre-ground flour, you won't need as much liquid - start with 1 1/2 cups and add tablespoon at a time until you reach the right consistency (see video below)
*** If you know you won't be able to bake your bread within the next 12-24 hours, you can place your dough in the fridge. This will slow the fermentation process down, and you can leave it in the fridge for up to a week. When you're ready to bake it, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before moving onto the next step.
I hope this was helpful for you and that you can now make your own easiest bread in the whole world!