Whole grain artisan free-form loaf recipe

- Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois, authors of the new book 'The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day', joined us in the FOX 2 Cooking School teo share some of the secrets and techniques with us.

You can get their recipe for a whole grain artisan free-form loaf below.

Our master recipe showcases a free- form loaf that's rich in whole wheat, shaped as an elongated oval, and topped with a delicious and nutritious seed mixture. By mixing dough in bulk without kneading, and baking loaves as they're needed, you'll truly be able to make this bread in five minutes a day of active preparation time (that is, excluding resting and oven time). Our standard loaf is over 70 percent whole grain, but you can make it with 100 percent whole wheat if you like (see page 91). If you're new to our whole wheat method, we recommend that you start with the 70 percent (standard) version that starts on the next page. Get used to working with this kind of dough before moving on to the 100 percent version (see page 91). And fi rst time out, use the standard version with vital wheat gluten.
Our dough is stored for up to two weeks, and, over that time, it loses a bit of rising power and oven spring. Because of that, we found that many of our tasters preferred this bread with a little extra gluten- using a product called "vital wheat gluten," sometimes labeled "vital wheat gluten flour" (page 12). Vital wheat gluten helps whole grain doughs rise and produces a lighter loaf. If
you can't find vital wheat gluten or prefer not to use it, we've given you information on how to adjust water depending on whether you're using vital wheat gluten or not (pages 12 or 22: Variations, starting on page 90, let you customize the loaves to your preferences: herbs, honey, oil, butter, sprouted wheat, Kamut [khorasan], or spelt flour are all delicious options, and this chapter shows you how to use them). It's just a matter of adjusting the water, and we tested with specific brands-so if you're using other brands, you'll have to experiment to re- create the consistency you get in our basic recipe made with Gold Medal whole wheat (or an equivalent like Pillsbury).
Our wet dough develops sourdough character during storage in the refrigerator, and that's the other fantastic advantage of making large stored batches.
For the first time in our books, we've also included a fast and easy method for making au then tic sourdough (it works with white flour, too). If you're willing to put in a little more time, you can have naturally fermented sourdough made the old- fashioned way- without packaged yeast (see page 393). But we strongly recommend that you get comfortable with the simpler method- packaged yeast- before you tackle natural sourdough.
This easy recipe and the variations that follow will give you the basic skills you need to complete the recipes in the rest of the book.

Makes enough dough for at least four 1- pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

Ingredient Volume (U.S.) Weight (U.S.) Weight (Metric)
Gold Medal or Pillsbury whole wheat flour* 5 ¾ cups 1 pound, 10 ½ ounces 750 grams
All-purpose flour 2 cups 10 ½ ounces 300 grams
Granulated yeast (can decrease to taste) 1 tablespoon 0.35 ounce 10 grams
Kosher salt (can increase or decrease to taste) 1 tablespoon 0.6 ounce 15 grams
Vital wheat gluten (see table below to omit) ¼ cup 1 3/8 ounces 40 grams
Lukewarm water (adjust based on flour choice*) 4 cups 2 pounds 910 grams
Cornmeal or parchment paper for the pizza peel

1 to 2 tablespoons of whole seed mixture for sprinkling on top crust: sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, and/or anise (optional)

*Some whole wheat flours require different total liquid amounts for this Master Recipe, shown in chart below. For recipes that use different proportions of whole wheat flour, adjust water proportionally. For best results when using flours other than Gold Medal or Pillsbury, it's best to weigh the flour, or the adjustments won't work as well:

Total liquid amounts for various flours in this Master Recipe, with or without vital wheat gluten:
Flour Total Liquid (with vital wheat gluten) Total Liquid (without vital wheat gluten)
Gold Medal or Pillsbury Whole Wheat 4 cups (2lb./910 g) 3 ½ cups (28 oz. /795 g.)
King Arthur Whole Wheat 4 ¼ cups (34 oz. /965 g.) 3 ¾ cups (30 oz. /850 g.)
Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground Whole Wheat 4 ¼ cups (34 oz./965 g.) 3 ¾ cups (30 oz./850 g.)
Sprouted Wheat Flour: Arrowhead Mills brand 4 ¼ cups (34 oz./965 g.) 3 ¾ cups (30 oz./850 g.)
Kamut Flour: Bob's Red Mill Organic 3 ¾ cups (30 oz./850 g.) 3 ½ cups (28 oz./795 g.)
Spelt Flour: Bob's Red Mill 3 ¾ cups (30 oz./850 g.) 3 ¼ cups (26 oz./735 g.)
Hodgson Mill Stone Ground Whole Wheat 3 ½ cups (28 oz./795 g)  3 ¼ cups (26 oz./735 g.)

Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Measure the dry ingredients: Use dry- ingredient measuring cups (avoid 2- cup measures, which compress the flour) to gently scoop the flour from a bin, then sweep the top level with a knife or spatula (or even better, weigh your ingredients using the equivalents provided). Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5- quart bowl, or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded plastic food container or food- grade bucket (not airtight).

2. Mix with water- kneading is unnecessary: Warm the water until it feels slightly warmer than body temperature (about 100°F). Add all at once to the dry ingredients and mix without kneading- use a spoon, a dough whisk, a 14- cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy- duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you're not using a machine, you might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate. Using warm water will allow the dough to rise fully in about 2 hours. Don't knead! It isn't necessary. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes and will yield a dough that is wet and remains loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

Allow to rise: Cover the dough with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container. If you are using a bowl, cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Lidded (or even vented) plastic buckets designed for dough storage are readily available (page 41); leave it open a crack for the first 48 hours to prevent buildup of gases; after that you can usually seal it. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room's temperature and the initial water temperature.
Longer rising times, even overnight, will not harm the result, and if you're getting dense loaves, especially early in the batch- life, try 3 hours. After rising, refrigerate in the lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf. Once refrigerated, the dough will have shrunk back upon itself. It will never rise again in the bucket, which is normal. Whatever you do, do not punch down this dough. With our method, you're trying to retain as much gas in the dough as possible, and punching it down knocks gas out and will make your loaves denser.

Weighing your ingredients: We include weight equivalents for all our dough recipes, because many of our testers found it was easier to weigh ingredients than to use cup measures. Use a digital scale- they're becoming less expensive all the time. Simply press the "tare" (zeroing) button before adding an ingredient, then "tare" again to add the next ingredient. If you use any of the alternative flours, weighing is very important

1. Mix a new batch of dough every time we want to make bread
2. Proof yeast
3. Knead dough
4. Rest/rise the loaves in a draft- free location-it doesn't matter.
5. Fuss over doubling or tripling of dough volume
6. Punch down and re- rise: Never punch down stored dough.
7. Poke rising loaves, leaving indentations to be sure they've proofed
Now you know why it only takes five minutes a day, not including resting and baking time.

On Baking Day
3. Shape a loaf in 20 to 40 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (or by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat) to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Dust the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1- pound (grapefruit- size) piece of dough, using kitchen shears or a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating a quarter turn as you go, to form a ball.

Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the ball may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will
flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds. If you work the dough longer than this, it might make your loaf dense.

4. Form an oval- shaped loaf and let it rest: Dust the dough with flour and stretch the ball gently to elongate it, and taper the ends by pinching them. For a really professional result, use the letter- fold method on page 102.

6. Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a roomy overturned bowl, on the prepared pizza peel for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
Alternatively, you can rest the loaf on a silicone mat or on a greased cookie sheet without using a pizza peel. Depending on the age of the dough, you might not see much rise during this period; instead, it might spread sideways. More rising will occur during baking (oven spring).

7. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on a rack near the middle of the oven (if you're not using a stone, the preheat can be short). Place an empty metal broiler tray for holding water on any other rack that won't interfere with the rising bread. In step 9, you'll use the broiler tray to generate steam (see page 40 ff. for steam alternatives).

8. Paint and slash: Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water.
Sprinkle with the seed mixture if desired. Slash the loaf with
½ inch- deep parallel cuts crosswise across the top. Use a serrated bread knife held perpendicularly to the bread. View more tips by searching our YouTube channel (YouTube.com/BreadIn5) for "Slashing Dough."

9. Baking with steam: After a 30- minute preheat with the stone, you should be ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer might not yet be up to full temperature. For a crisper result, or if you're finding your loaves are underdone, preheat for as long as an hour. Place the tip of the peel a few inches beyond where you want the bread to land. Give the peel a few quick forward- and- back jiggles, then pull it sharply out from under the loaf. If you used parchment paper instead of cornmeal, it will slide onto the stone with the loaf, and if you used a silicone mat or baking sheet, just place it on the stone. Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam (see safeguards about water on oven glass on page 40, or use an alternative method to bake with steam, also on page 40). Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch (smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time). If you used parchment paper, a silicone mat, or a cookie sheet under the loaf, carefully remove it two- thirds of the way through the baking time and bake the loaf directly on the stone or on an oven rack. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it may audibly crackle, or "sing."
Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing; this may take up to two hours. The crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled (see cover photo).

10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. You'll find that even 24 hours of storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. The dough continues to ferment and will take on sourdough characteristics. The dough can also be frozen- wrap it well or place in an airtight container (see page 000 for guidelines on freezing time).

Relax, you do not need to monitor doubling or tripling of volume as in traditional recipes. Our dough may not rise much after being shaped and rested, but when it goes into the oven you will see sudden rising ("oven spring").

The broiler tray must be metal: Never use a glass pan to catch water for steam, or it will shatter!

Why do we slash? When loaves undergo sudden "oven spring" upon contact with the hot stone and oven air, the expanding crumb can crack the crust in unattractive and uneven ways, or it can set early, preventing a full rise. Slashing ensures a beautiful, fully risen loaf.

Lazy Sourdough Shortcut: When your dough bucket is nearly empty, don't wash it. Immediately mix another batch in the same container. In addition to saving the cleanup step, you'll find that the bits of aged dough that remain stuck to the sides of the container will give your new batch a head start on sourdough flavor. Just scrape it down and it will hydrate and incorporate into the new dough. Don't do this with egg- or dairy- enriched dough; containers for those should be washed after each use.

Pâte fermentée: You can take that even further by adding a more sizable amount of old dough from your last batch. You can use up to 2 cups of old dough in the batch; just mix it in with the water for your new batch and let it stand until it becomes soupy before you start mixing the new recipe, right on top of it (if the recipe calls for vital wheat gluten, whisk it into the flour before adding to the liquid). An immersion blender can be particularly helpful for blending the old dough with water. Add this mixture to your dry ingredients as in the recipe. Professionals call the old dough that you add to a new batch pâte fermentée (paht fair- mon- táy), which means nothing more than "fermented dough."

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes Advertiser Stories