Have you heard about the crazy no-knead bread, that takes no work or skill and always turns out perfect? It is amazing stuff. :) I heard about it here, at smitten kitchen. Yum. The original is SO delicious. I take it places when people ask me to bring bread, and I never get to bring home the leftovers (cause there aren't any!).
But I am a whole foods nerd, so I don't like to leave well enough alone! And I thought to myself, "Hey self, wouldn't it be yummy if this worked for whole wheat bread? and wouldn't it be great if it was a soaked flour recipe with some kind of culture added?" (you'll have to ask me why some time...even Cooks Illustrated agrees that soaked wheat flour makes better bread!) and I replied to myself, "Yep!"
So, beginning with the recipe from smitten kitchen, I came up with this variation which makes all my dreams come true. It doesn't come out as holey as the original...more of a sandwich bread texture. But that is great, because I need a sandwich bread for my sweet husband. :)
Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour (hard white is tastiest!)
1/3 tsp active yeast
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt (or even kefir!)
1 cup filtered water
1 1/2 tsp salt
a dash of olive oil
Dump the flour in a big bowl. Put the yeast in, too, and mix it up. Then take a 2 cup or larger measuring cup and measure in your half a cup of buttermilk or yogurt (or kefir, if that's the way you roll :)). Then fill the measuring cup up to the 1 1/2 cup mark with filtered water (you added 1 cup of water, see?). Now toss all of that liquid into the flour mixture, and stir it up till it's all mixed. It should look pretty soggy. Cover it up with a damp towel, and let it set for 12 - 18 hours. (You can do more but it starts to taste VERY yeasty)
Once it's done setting, uncover it and add the salt. I just knead it in the bowl for 2 minutes or so to make sure the salt is worked evenly through. Then I dump it out onto a lightly floured counter and let it rest for 15 minutes. (not sure why, smitten kitchen told me to! :)) Meanwhile I wash the bowl out and oil it with some olive oil. Once the dough is done resting, I replace it in the oiled bowl, cover it back up with the damp towel, and let it sit for 2 hours.
About 1/2 hour before the 2 hours are up, I put my 3 qt dutch oven (with its lid on) into the oven and heat it to 450 degrees F. When the dough is ready, I hustle the dutch oven out, take off the lid, pour in the dough (literally, it's that wet), replace the lid, and pop it back into the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then remove the lid of the dutch oven, and bake for 15 more minutes to give it a goldeny crust.
Ta dum! Tip it out of the dutch oven, and let it cool!
A few thoughts:
-- If you use a larger dutch oven, your bread will have a larger circumference and be shorter. It looks very artsy, but is not as good for sandwiches. :)
--If you are a super health food nerd and use whey, you could sub 1/2 cup of water + 2 tbsp whey for the buttermilk.
Hopefully that made sense! I would love to answer questions if anything was confusing. :)