I’m currently trying to do a better job of soaking/fermenting our whole grains in order to improve their ease of digestion. (See the end of this post for why.) I’ve been making this recipe for soaked whole wheat sandwich bread for a few months now and it’s reliably delicious. I’ve increased/slightly changed the ingredients and changed the method somewhat so that all the whole wheat flour is soaked and so that the recipe makes three loaves instead of two.
My apologies to anyone who doesn’t have a kitchen scale because this recipe will be worthless to you if you don’t. If you don’t, you should. Your life will be so much easier, at least if you want to bake bread! (This is the scale we have and it works great.)
Soaked (pre-fermented) Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
slightly adapted from this recipe (See the original recipe for detailed instructions and pictures of the process if you need them.)
makes 3 loaves
In a mixing bowl or standing mixer bowl, add:
80 g whey or plain yogurt
553 g water
713 g whole wheat flour
53 g honey
27 g olive oil
1 tsp yeast
Mix until fully combined.
In a separate bowl, combine well:
200 g unbleached bread flour
1 tsp yeast
Sprinkle over the top of the batter in the mixing bowl. Make sure the wet batter is completely covered by the dry flour. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let sit at room temperature overnight.
The next day, add:
1 T + 1 tsp sea salt
Knead by hand or using the dough hook on low for 10-15 minutes until flour is fully incorporated and dough is nice and stretchy (rather than breaking if you try to stretch it out.) You will likely need to add at least a ¼ C more of bread flour as you are kneading to bring the bread to the right level of non-stickiness. (Make sure to use bread flour and NOT whole wheat for this and for flouring your table when rolling out your loaves.)
Place dough into a large, oiled bowl, and then spray a little more oil on the top of the dough. Rotate the ball of dough so it gets covered in oil on all sides. Cover with a damp towel and let rise until doubled, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the temperature of your house.
Grease your bread pans. Shape your dough into loaves. (I follow the instructions in this post for shaping loaves, except that I only roll up the log once.) Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until the dough is about an inch over the top of the pans (about 1.5 hours or so). Preheat oven to 350. Bake bread for approximately 45 minutes, until bottom sounds hollow and the crust is a deep golden brown. Remove immediately from pans and allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing.
So what’s this about soaking or pre-fermenting whole grains? The short story is that whole grains have something in them called phytic acid (another explanation here) which is designed to keep the seed from disintegrating until it sprouts after it’s planted. (White flour doesn’t have this because the bran is removed.) Phytic acid is thought to block the absorption of nutrients in your gut, making whole grains difficult to digest for many people. There are two ways to neutralize the phytic acid – either by sprouting the whole grains before turning them into flour or by soaking the whole grain flour in water with some kind of acid overnight. We’ve found that we definitely feel better after eating this bread than after eating non-soaked bread. Eventually, I’d like to start making sourdough bread, which accomplishes the same goal but I’m not there yet. So this is a great start.