The IDEAL way to eat grain of any kind is either sprouted or properly soaked to neutralize the phytic acid.
Jordan Rubin writes, in The Maker’s Diet:
“Before the advent of mass-manufacturing processes, it was common for long-lived peoples to soak their grains overnight and then allow them to dry in the open air until they were partially germinated or sprouted, or to go through an ancient leavening process. From these grains they made bread and other foods. We now know these processes effectively remove the phytates from the outer covering of the natural grains. Phytates are substances that contain phosphorus in acidic form as well as powerful enzyme inhibitors that combine with (or “grab”) minerals in the intestinal tract and block their absorption.”1
“Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all seeds (grain is a seed) that inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.”2
When choosing leavened bread, the IDEAL is one made WITHOUT commercial yeast.
Jacques DeLangre writes:
“When yeast (what we know as commercial yeast) was first introduced in France at the courts of Louis XIV in March 1668, scientists already knew that the use of it would imperil the people’s health, so it was strongly rejected.”3
And finally a selection from fiction that shows us how bread was made in the 1870/80s:
“But how do you make the sourdough?” Mrs. Boast asked.
“You start it,” said Ma, “by putting some flour and warm water in a jar and letting it stand till it sours.”
“Then when you use it, always leave a little,” said Laura, “and put in the scraps of biscuit dough, like this, and more warm water,” Laura put in the warm water, “and cover it”, she put the clean cloth and the plate on the jar, “and just set it in a warm place,” she set it in its place on the shelf by the stove. “And it’s always ready to use, whenever you want it.”4
So we can see that the bread we are accustomed to is very different from the bread that was eaten for thousands of years in the past. I am quite sure this is one of many reasons we have numerous ailments our ancestors didn’t.
Now that we’ve talked about IDEALS, let us remember that we here are ALL about BABYSTEPS! We must remember that EVERY little thing we change REALLY does count. Don’t be discouraged by the last article, just because we can’t balance junk food with healthy food or exercise doesn’t mean we don’t still move forward.
We need to think of food in the context of GOOD, BETTER, and BEST. A whole-wheat loaf of bread is good, one that is whole wheat and has soured is better, and one that is soured AND made without any commercial yeast is the best. Every little bit that we change in our diet counts. It’s just like the principle of saving money, every little bit adds up.
So here I present a recipe for yeast bread that uses much less commercial yeast than the typical recipe AND it is soured by a long rising time, so that the phytic acid is neutralized. So even though it’s not the IDEAL, it is BY FAR, better than the store-bought fare. Plus it tastes delicious. I toured the Great Harvest Bread Company recently and was happy that my homemade bread tastes so similar to the professional’s. J
This is a recipe for the cook who is familiar with making his or her own bread. If you have never made your own bread, a good recipe to practice on is my French Loaf. Then you can move on to this recipe.
This bread takes very little of my time, it just has to sit and sour a long time (about 40 hours from start to finish). It doesn’t taste overly sour, though. My daughter and I made some a few days ago and enjoyed a slice fresh out of the oven with butter. It is important to follow the directions and not vary.
A word on gluten - some people like to add gluten flour to their homemade wheat bread so that is doesn’t come out as a brick, but I wanted to keep this loaf as close to whole food as possible. You will see with this loaf that you won’t need that gluten flour if you just let it sit for the prescribed amount of time. But there is a breaking point I have discovered with gluten. Gluten is the protein of the grain, by the way. If it is developed properly it will give your loaf structure and allow it to rise nice and high, the strands are like 2-by-4s in your house that hold up the walls, they hold little rooms of gas. Without proper gluten development, there are no rooms of gas bubbles, it’s just like a house that is fallen, it’s a pile of rubble, or densely packed wheat that tastes like rubble. J Anyway, back to the point. I have noticed that the longer the dough sits, the better the gluten is developed, BUT if it sits too long, those nice strands of gluten break and you end up with the dense, brick loaf. L So the moral is, follow the recipe as I have set it. I have tried to vary the amount of yeast or the souring time and it has flopped.
Now for the recipe, first I make a sponge; I usually do this in the evening, as I like it to sit for 24 hours.
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I’ve been using hard white wheat, but have also had success with red)
1/8 teaspoon yeast (I'm using rapid rise)
Stir together and let sit 24 hours, stirring a couple of times during that period.
Then the next evening I will put the following ingredients in my Kitchenaid mixer:
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons molasses or honey (black-strap molasses is packed with minerals, especially iron; honey is good, but it’s benefits are killed at 117°F5, bread is usually around 185°F when done baking)
2 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt – I prefer Celtic Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons millet (optional, for some crunch)
I stir this by hand till mixed and then add my sponge. I let the machine mix it for me while I add another cup of flour or so till the bowl is clean. See the picture. I will then let it knead 10 minutes in the machine.
I then let it rise in a buttered bowl on counter for 90 minutes. Then put it in the fridge overnight - I want the new flour I added to have a chance to sour. The next day I'll set it out for a bit to warm up, from about 8am to 10am. Then shape into a loaf, place in a buttered bread pan.
Let rise till it's nice and tall (last time I made it, this took about an hour and a half since the dough is still a bit cold). Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. Enjoy your wonderful high and soft loaf!
If you would like to try baking a true sourdough loaf without any yeast, you might try this one. I have not made it myself, but a friend has and says it’s good.
Want to learn more about phytic acid? Take this free e-course, from someone who has done more research on this subject than I.
1The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin, pg. 138
2The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin, pg. 152
3Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, quote by Jacques DeLangre, pg. 491
4By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
5Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, pg. 536