One of the things I really missed when eating gluten-free for 3 weeks was freshly baked bread. I’m used to baking my own bread a few times a week using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (ABin5) method so of course one of the first things I did when done with the cleanse diet was make a batch of dough. For those of you unfamiliar with the ABin5 method, it is a “no-knead” bread dough, made in a batch large enough for 4 loaves, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Since discovering this method last year, I have not bought one loaf of french bread because I always have dough ready to go in my refrigerator. Now, I’m starting to make my own wheat sandwich bread too.
I was fortunate to receive a review copy of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (HBin5) a day, but unfortunate in that it arrived on the first day of my diet. I looked though it longingly and was thrilled when I got the chapter on Gluten Free Breads. However, those recipes contained eggs and sugar, two things which I could not have. I did try to make them with egg-replacer and a bit of agave syrup, and while they were the best of the GF breads I tried, they just weren’t as good as they would be using the right ingredients. I do intend to try some of the gluten-free recipes (now that I have all the special flours) as they were written, especially when I have family who are gluten-free visiting.
I thought it fitting that the first bread I baked once I was eating gluten again would be a healthy bread. So of course I turned to HBin5 and started with recipe #1. If you are familiar with the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day method, this one will be no surprise. There are some distinct differences however. The first is the use of Vital Wheat Gluten as an ingredient. The Vital Wheat Gluten allows the whole grain dough to rise after being stored in the refrigerator. Whole grain flour has less gluten than white flour. The second is the use of whole wheat flour and the proportions in this recipe are different from the ones in the Whole Wheat recipe in ABin5. The also book offers weight measurements instead of just cups which is a much more exact way to measure when it comes to baking. I love my Salter Kitchen Scale for this.
The method takes a bit longer too, 90 minutes from refrigerator to oven instead of 45. This means you really need to plan it bit more in advance when you want to have freshly baked bread for dinner, at least 2.5 hours in advance which means it’s not really feasible (for me) to come home from work and throw a loaf in the oven in time for dinner. Fortunately, there is a recommendation for forming the dough in the morning, letting it rest in the refrigerator throughout the day, and then baking it after only being out of the refrigerator for the time it takes to preheat the oven.
I baked the loaf in these photos in a 8.5″ loaf pan because I wanted to use it for sandwich bread, but the dough works well as a free form oval loaf or round boule. It’s heavier and denser than the white ABin5, but it just feels so healthy when I eat it. As a big bonus, the bread seems to stay fresher longer and is still nice and soft inside, even after a few days.
1 lb, 9 oz whole wheat flour (5 1/2 cups)(720 grams)
10 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour (2 cups)(270 grams)
1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast (.55 oz)(15 grams)
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt (.55 oz)(15 grams)
1 3/8 oz vital wheat gluten (4 Tbsp)* (35 grams)
4 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F) (2 lbs)(900 grams)
*I used Bob’s Red Mill Brand Vital Wheat Gluten purchased at Whole Foods
I use my scale now as much as possible when baking so below I’m giving weights on ingredients first, but also cup measurements used in the book. If you have a scale which will tare (reset to zero with the bowl on the scale) you can use this method; Put the bowl or bread dough container on the scale and tare to zero. Add the whole wheat flour to 1lb, 9 oz and hit tare. Add the AP flour to 10 oz and tare, etc. I never even got a measuring cup dirty. I just poured it into the container directly from the bag.
Cover loosely with the lid to the container or with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for two hours at room temperature. The dough will rise (a little more than double) and then will collapse to be flat on top. Refrigerate and use over the next 14 days. Do not seal in an airtight container. The lid should be loose to allow gas build up to escape.
On baking day, pull off a grapefruit sized (about 1 lb) piece of dough. You can tear it off or cut it with a serrated knife. Note; I like my loaves bigger so I tend you get three per batch instead of four.
Shape the loaf; DO NOT knead it. Just pull the sides down and around to the bottom of the loaf to form a ball. If baking it in a loaf pan, you will want to elongate it to fit into the pan. Otherwise, make a round loaf called a boule.
Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal or parchment paper for 90 minutes. According to the book, whole grain dough takes longer to rest than white dough. You also won’t see much rise during this time, but it will rise once it’s in the oven.
After an hour, (30 min before baking), preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have one, put a baking stone on the a middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on the floor of the oven (this will need to hold about a cup of water).
Just before baking, brush the top with water. Slash the loaf with a 1/4-inch deep cut down the middle, if baking in a loaf pan. If baking a free-form loaf or boule, make diagonal slashes across the top or do a cross pattern.
Put the loaf pan into the oven, slide the loaf onto the hot baking stone, or put the loaf into the oven on a sheet pan. Before closing the oven door, pour 1 cup of water into the broiler tray on the bottom of the oven. Be careful, this will create a lot of steam. The steam helps give the loaf a great crust.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. My loaves, which are 1/3 of the batch of dough instead of 1/4, take about 40 min. Bake until the crust is evenly brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. For the loaves cooked in a loaf pan, I remove them from the pan for the last 10 minutes of baking and put the loaf directly on the rack in the oven.
If you can wait, allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing. The bread’s texture will be better this way.