We've been baking homemade bread here for a year straight. After studying a bit on bread baking, I came up with a recipe that "ferments" the grain a bit, which makes it healthier and easier to digest, especially for those with wheat sensitivities--like me. I can eat wheat, but do better on a gluten-free diet. But wheat bread made this way does not bother me one bit.
Back in the day--like the OT day--yeast didn't come in little packets to be added to the dough. Bread was made in a fermentation "trough," and the dough was left to stand at least 24 hours, collecting yeast from the air, but more importantly, fermenting the grains, too. (Sourdough is a form of fermentation).
The references made throughout the whole Bible drawing a parallel between "leavening" and "sin" are significant if you understand bread-baking in Bible times. Leavening was a result of "exposure" to bacteria in the air. Sin was a result of exposure to foolishness--first starting with the eyes seeing wrong things, and then being exposed to ungodly ways; like the Israelites deliberately exposing themselves to the idolatrous ways of the Canaanites. Fermentation is also the start of "rottenness." Rottenness is simply fermentation left unchecked.
It is also proven that people with digestive problems, especially those with gluten intolerance, are greatly helped by eating fermented foods. I wasn't able to digest regular bread very well, especially after all my illnesses the past few years. But I was surprised when I tentatively tried a piece of toast from this "fermented" bread, and my stomach handled it as well as gluten-free. (Note: I am not completely gluten-intolerant, nor do I have Celiac's.)
Anyway, the method is simple. In the afternoon or evening, I mix up the bread using room temperature water and ingredients, then cover it lightly and leave it to rise overnight. At least 12 hours, if not 15 or more. This allows for the grains to start fermenting. I am also able to use WAAAAY less yeast than regular bread recipes call for--like 2/3 or 3/4 less.
Mix with fork in large bowl, in this order: 2-1/4 cups tepid water, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp salt, 2 tsp yeast, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses or raw honey (we prefer molasses), 6 cups whole wheat flour (or you can use a blend of whole wheat and unbleached white, 3 parts to 1 part). Mix thoroughly with fork. Using wet hands, knead until blended well--dough should be sticky and soft. Put in bowl and cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave overnight (12-15 hours).
Next day: Prepare two 9-inch loaf pans by coating with butter. Butter your hands, divide into two equal parts and then shape into smooth loaves. Cover lightly, and let rise about 2-3 hours. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Exactly. Turn immediately on to cooling rack.
Perfect for toast--my favorite is toast with homemade grape jam, the kids' fave is cinnamon toast, of course. The bread is so hearty, two slices is a great, simple meal when you add some apple slices and carrot sticks and a yogurt, or a smoothie.
And if you're interesting in learning more about the history of bread, what is healthful bread, and what is not, I recommend this book:
On another note, I do try to get as many vegetables and fruits as possible into our family's diet. Not easy with a wide age-range of kiddos, and the prohibitive cost of fresh produce on a small budget, and me being too ill to garden for several years. But I have my ways. Like today, for example, I took a very simple and inexpensive lunch idea: A jar of spaghetti sauce (all natural with no corn syrup or preservatives: $1.39 at our discount grocery store), and 1 pound of regular spaghetti noodles ($1), and did this:
I sauteed some chopped fresh spinach and grated fresh organic carrots in olive oil with some garlic and salt, THEN I added the spaghetti sauce. And I got this: Watch out Chef Boy-ar-dee!
No recipe needed. It's just fresh spinach, tomatoes, two soft-boiled eggs, salt, pepper, and a piece of extra-crispy whole wheat toast cut into pieces (add butter if you must, but not needed, really!)
Happy cooking, y'all. I know you're all doing it all the time, just like me, and doing your best to make it healthy as much as sanity, budget, and time allows.
Got any good tips to share?