Homemade bread is making a comeback as more and more people opt to make their own with quality ingredients they source and choose themselves.
Quality trumping convenience is an idea whose time has come in the bread department as the general public awakens to the dangers of white flour, one of the “displacing foods of modern commerce” as described by Dr. Weston A. Price in his nutritional classic Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
This is a radical change from even just a few decades ago. My Grandmother, like many of her generation, always chose white bread over “brown bread” as she called it because she considered whole wheat bread a sign of poverty. She believed this because she observed when she was growing up that those who ate white bread were more affluent and educated.
Fortunately, this notion is no longer a popular mindset.
Not only is bread made with white flour basically devoid of nutrition, it adds to the body’s toxic load with a plethora of additives, chemicals, and rancid vegetable oils.
Worse, unlike the white bread of even just 10 years ago, store bread frequently contains soy flour which threatens hormonal health and can trigger digestive problems for those who are sensitive.
Consumers choosing to bake their own bread are usually forgoing white flour in favor of whole wheat or whole grains. While whole grain flour may be fresher when ground at home and the bread more nutritious with no chemical additives, other problems emerge from the modern preparation.
Modern breadmaking employs the use of yeast and high heat to quickly raise the dough and bake the bread. This contrasts with the slow, natural rise that occurs with fermented dough baked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.
Science has demonstrated the wisdom of the careful preparation methods of our ancestors as all grains and legumes contain phytic acid, an organic acid that blocks mineral absorption in the intestinal tract. Phytic acid is neutralized in as little as 7 hours of soaking in water with small amounts of an acidic medium such as yogurt, lemon juice or cider vinegar. Soaking also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in the hulls of all grains and adds beneficial enzymes which increase the amount of nutrients present – especially the B vitamins.
For those with gluten intolerance, soaking or fermenting gluten-based grains breaks down this difficult-to-digest plant protein; studies carried out in Italy have found that people with celiac disease can consume genuine sourdough bread without digestive distress or auto-immune symptoms.
I frequently get asked how to make fresh bread at home using the traditional method of soaking flour first combined with the modern convenience of a bread machine. If you have a breadmaker and would like to transition to a traditional method for making bread while continuing to use this appliance, here’s a recipe to try adapted from the Healthy4Life booklet from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Bread Machine Loaf Using Soaked Flour
1/2 cup plus 2 TBL full fat yogurt
3/4 cup filtered water
4 cups whole grain flour, less 3 TBL – preferably freshly ground
2 TBL softened butter (sources)
1 TBL molasses (sources)
3 TBL arrowroot powder (sources)
1 3/4 tsp dried yeast granules (sources)
1 tsp sea salt (sources)
Mix yogurt with water and mix with the flour to form a dough. Cover and leave in a warm spot on the kitchen counter for 18-24 hours.
Put the dough plus the yeast, arrowroot, sea salt, molasses, and butter in the bread machine. Set it to the wholemeal setting and begin.
When it is partway through the kneading section, check that all the ingredients have mixed together and observe the consistency of the dough.
If it is slimy, add some more arrowroot powder. If it’s too dry, add a few more drops of water, drop by drop.
Proceed as directed.
Enjoy your fresh baked loaf courtesy of a blend of modern convenience and Traditional Wisdom!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist