I love making my own bread at home, but for some reason I haven’t baked a loaf of bread since Christmas although I do bake focaccia of some type every week or so. I recently planned to make a delicious Roasted Eggplant Spread that really needed to be served with some good crusty Italian bread so I got out my bread making tools. I discovered the “no knead” bread making method a couple of years ago and do choose this method often for making good crusty, artisan style bread at home. For this version, I used the basic whole wheat recipe from the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. This recipe makes enough for 4 (1 pound) loaves, although I will make 3 larger loaves from it. The best thing about this recipe is that once you mix the dough, you have the dough ready to make daily for a few different loaves. The dough does improve in flavor if it is left in the refrigerator at least overnight, so I’d advise mixing it at least the day before you plan to bake it.
I deviated from the original recipe in the book by using white wheat flour, skipping the addition of vital wheat gluten, adding a little olive oil, and I used a biga I keep in my refrigerator at all times. Although I kept my bread simple, you can fold in some chopped kalamata olives, lightly toasted walnuts, or some chopped fresh rosemary if you prefer. I dusted the exterior of my bread with sesame seeds, but a seed mix of sesame, flax, caraway, sunflower, and poppy seeds is also delicious. Although I added my biga to this bread, you can skip that step if you prefer, and simply add a little additional water. I find the biga adds a little extra flavor to the bread, but the bread is delicious without it as well.
Deborah Mele 2014
- 1/2 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Cup Lukewarm water
- 2 Cups Unbleached, All-purpose Flour
- 5 1/2 Cups White Wheat Flour
- 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (I Prefer SAS Brand)
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 4 to 4 1/2 Cups Warm Water
- 1/3 Cup Sesame Seeds
- For the biga, the day before, mix the yeast and water together, and then slowly start adding the flour, mixing well.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours, then refrigerate overnight.
- In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of the biga, the two flours, yeast, salt, and oil with a large wooden spoon.
- Add enough warm water, stirring as you pour it in, until you have a uniformly moist dough.
- Place the dough in a large container, cover, and let rise 2 hours.
- Refrigerate the covered container overnight or up to 14 days.
- On the day you want to bake your bread, pull out 1/3 of the dough and pulling the edges underneath, create a round or oval shape and place on a lightly floured parchment covered baking sheet.
- Keep the remaining dough covered and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
- Cover your dough ball with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 90 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place a casserole dish with water into the oven.
- Once the dough has risen, use a serrated knife to cut three to four half inch cuts into the bread.
- Brush the top of the loaf with water, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
- Bake the loaf until it is golden brown and has reached an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Cool the bread to room temperature and then slice as desired and serve.