article is about baking the ultimate non-white bread, a sprouted sourdough that
is very healthful as a daily staple. Accompanied by a salad, sometimes a soup,
of fresh, local, organically grown vegetables, mushrooms, and a little seasonal fruit, it
will keep you healthy enough to pedal your bicycle everywhere you need to go.
going to give you a simple fifteen-step recipe for the bread, which you can
easily adapt to your own situation. But I want to talk about the cultural
considerations that go into perfecting bread, so I’m going to explore each of
the six major processes involved in creating it. First, let’s talk about
designing your home to bake bread.
not unreasonable to plan one’s home around the baking of daily bread. In cold
climes, there is a great case to be made for putting a masonry oven – stone,
brick, or ceramic – near the low center of the home as a heat sink. In hot
places, you would want to move the cooking operations away from the core,
perhaps even convert to a raw vegan diet, which is easier in the tropics.
plan to enjoy daily bread, you will want to consider your sources, as well as
means of delivery, of the fundamental raw materials:
whole and raw from a local, organic grower (you might even grow them yourself);
pure and clean (absolutely essential and to be used sparingly); and
ideally from the sun, perhaps through an intermediary such as wood.
salts and cooking oil can also be nice, but are not absolutely essential.
home will need appropriate spaces for each of several processes, listed below
in order of temperature. Besides determining how you will generate heat, think
about how you will utilize it in varying intensity as it rises from the source.
· 40°F –
Starter must be refrigerated for storage. If you cease daily baking for a time,
you may want to freeze it (30°F).
[Note refrigerating an interior space generally involves heating an exterior
space. Use that heat!]
· 55°F –
Storage of seeds should be cool and dry, while sprouting will be cool and
moist. Both processes are better in relative darkness. [This is the mean
temperature of the earth’s crust below frost line.]
· 75°F –
There is flexibility in the range for sourdough to work, but this is the ideal
average. Apparently some bakers prefer longer, cooler processes, while others
speed it up with more heat.
· 85°F –
Starter and water should be preheated to facilitate yeast growth.
· 350°F –
Baking bread will require a hot oven for about an hour each time.
are going to need quite a few tools for the process of making your daily bread.
Each will need to be stored somewhere while not in use. Plan ahead for
comfortable processes. Necessary tools include:
containers for gathering and storing seeds;
least five sprouting jars, one gallon is ideal, but at least ½ gallon, fitted
with screen lids for easy draining;
three cup water container (quart jar with a line marked will work);
· A big
catch basin for water, at least one gallon, bigger is better;
grinder/mixer, ideally capable of course grinding cereals and kneading bread
(you will make up for its inadequacies with physical labor);
large breadboard for kneading & shaping dough;
large, steep sided, mixing bowls, five quart ideal, but at least ¾ gallon, with
cloth covers (built in elastic is luxurious);
starter containers with cloth covers and optional tight lid for freezing (if
you plan to suspend operations for more than a few weeks);
· Two or
more bread pans;
one mounted in the center of the oven, one outside the oven for cooling cooked
· A good
slicing knife and a toaster are optional, but nice;
breadbox made of tin with small perforations for air;
of cleaning everything regularly. While sterility is an impossible notion, we
want to encourage symbiotic cultures and discourage intruding pathogens. Be
alert to the culture of your kitchen.
The first process in making the ultimate non-white bread is selecting the
whole, raw (preferably grown with organic techniques on a local farm) seeds.
It’s good to change up this mix regularly, as long as you follow the main
principles. I cannot overstress that the seeds
must be alive, never roasted,
rolled, cracked, or ground, or even too old or over-treated to sprout.
About three quarters of the seeds must be glutinous
cereal grains, in order to allow the bread to rise properly. If you are
intolerant of gluten, it may be because you’ve never had it prepared properly,
but please don’t risk your health. Others know how to make gluten-free bread.
This is not. 75% of your seeds should be:
(I’m particularly fond of hard, red wheat).
other quarter of your seed mix should mostly provide complementary proteins to
the cereals. These could come from either of two groups.
alfalfa, clover, fenugreek, lentil, pea, chickpea, mung bean and soybean (non-GMO).
sesame, sunflower, almond, hazelnut, flax (linseed), peanut.
oilseeds, except flax, increase the hassle factor because they have shells that
must be removed, however, they also provide essential oils, which can be tough
to get in a vegan diet. Plus they taste great! Make sure they are live, not
roasted or salted, if you want to include them in your daily bread.
Alternately, they can be roasted and made into a spread to be applied after
There are several other varieties of seeds that add
nutrition and flavor to your bread, but should be used in smaller amounts,
because they are not as essential. These include the following groups. Play
with different combinations!
- Non-glutinous cereals: maize
(corn), rice, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat (these last three
are used as cereal even if botanically they are not). In the case of rice,
the husk of the paddy will be removed before sprouting. The brown rice is
widely using for germination (GBR - Germinated Brown Rice) in Japan and
- Brassica: broccoli, cabbage, watercress,
mustard, mizuna, radish, daikon (kaiware sprouts), rocket (arugula),
tatsoi, or turnip.
- Umbelliferous vegetables: carrot,
celery, fennel, or parsley.
- Allium: onion, leek, or green
- Other vegetables and herbs: spinach,
lettuce, milk thistle, or lemon grass.
SPROUT – The second major process in making the ultimate non-white bread
is to soak and rinse the seeds to allow them to begin the growth process. This
will bring out natural sugars and begin the process of breaking down the basic
nutrients so they will be more available to your body upon eating.
Sprouting imitates the natural process that a seed follows when planted,
but without that messy dirt. Generally we begin by soaking the seeds for 24
hours in cool (55°F), pure water. Then we drain the seeds for
three days in the same cool, moist, dark space, rinsing with fresh, cool water
daily. The seeds should begin to grow, but not produce much green. A little
won’t hurt anything, but white stalks are easier for the next process.
You could just eat these sprouts now and forget the bread.
That’s what a raw vegan would do, although she might first give the sprouts a
day of sunshine to green them up and put them into a salad. You could add them
to soup. If you get adventurous, you could grind them with more water and
culture them with anaerobic yeast in a sealed container to make beer. But I’m
presuming you still want bread.
GRIND – The third process of making the ultimate
non-white bread is to chew (not with your mouth, yet) all the sprouted ingredients
into tiny bits and mix them thoroughly with warm (85°F)
water and culture, and optionally a little salt, to make bread dough. Use about
three cups of water for a half-gallon of ground sprouts and two cups of
starter. Use not more than 1 ½ T salts.
This grinding becomes a vigorous kneading process, which brings out the
gluten web that will hold the little bubbles of carbon dioxide created by the
yeasts in the culture. Dough must have the right texture to make edible bread.
You may use a modern food processor with a bread hook or do it by hand on a
breadboard dusted with cornmeal.
Once you get started, you will save a bit of the dough from each day to
start the next day’s batch, thus preserving the diverse, symbiotic culture of
yeasts and bacteria that make truly great sourdough. For the first time, you
could make your starter from commercially available yeast with a dash of
kombucha, or you could get some from a baker who makes particularly delicious
As long as you bake bread, you want to maintain this healthy culture.
Never let it get contaminated. If you suspend operations, it can be frozen. Any
time it isn’t actively working, it should be refrigerated. Watch for
opportunities to enhance your culture by trading and combining successful
cultures with other healthy households.
Please let me share a bit of understanding about salt, an optional
ingredient. People have an ideal combination of electrolytic salts in our
bodies. We lose these, mostly through sweat, and must replace them in our diet.
While all of these minerals are found in a healthful blend of vegetables, the
standard American diet tends toward too much sodium and too little potassium
and magnesium. I use this blend in place of table salt as much as I’m able.
Balanced Electrolyte Blend
30% Chloride 20%
10 % Phosphate 20% Potassium
CULTURE - The fourth
process of making the ultimate non-white bread is the most important and
least demanding. Let it sit completely still in a warm place (70°-90°F) for
three days. This will allow the microbes in your culture to spread throughout
the dough. The yeast will digest the simple sugars and the bacteria will digest
the alcohol the yeast produces. Acids and enzymes will break down nutrients to
make them more digestible. Applied with appropriate timing, this culture makes
good bread into great bread.
It is important not to shake or disturb this process. The gas bubbles
caught in the gluten web are fragile. The microbes in the culture are
sensitive. Put a label onto each bowl daily so you know how long the culture
has been working, but don’t move the bowls around. Don’t let dust (mold spores)
contaminate your culture.
You will remove about 10% of each batch of dough to start the next
batch. Theoretically, you could have three different cultures going at the same
time. This provides some protection in case a batch gets contaminated. It also
gives you room to experiment with improvements in your culture. Play with it!
BAKE - The fifth process of making the ultimate
non-white bread is to shape the dough into baking pans and set them in an
evenly hot (350°F) oven for about an hour. Some combinations
of ingredients will cook a bit differently, so test the loaves with a toothpick
before turning them out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
It can be a good idea to coat the baking pans as well as the mixing
bowls with oil. Any oil that imparts a good taste without smoking will do. I
find avocado oil the ultimate cooking oil. Peanut or sesame oil each has a
strong, but not unpleasant taste. Flax (linseed) or hemp oil is also fine. Be
sure any oil you use is food grade. Olive oil is wonderful for salads, but
often smokes when used for cooking.
EAT - The final process of making the ultimate
non-white bread is to consume it. You may want to slice it and maybe toast it.
You could spread it with berry preserves or nut butters or make a sandwich with
If it doesn’t all get eaten immediately, bread is best stored in a clean
tin with tiny perforations for air. Observe how much gets eaten, how hungry
people are, and adjust the amount of bread you bake each day to accommodate.
Okay, as promised, here is the step-by-step recipe for baking the
ultimate non-white healthful daily bread.
1. Check the
breadbox to see how much is left from the last baking. Adjust quantities to
2. Remove sourdough
starter from refrigeration and preheat to 85°F for
an hour before mixing dough. Preheat oven to 350°F.
seeds (¾ glutinous cereals) into a clean gallon jar with screen lid. Fill with
pure water to soak for 24 hours in a cool (55°F),
off and keep water soaking seeds from yesterday, Set upside down in a cool,
dark area to drain.
3 cups of water from sprouts to 85°F.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
6. Reuse remaining
water to rinse middle two jars of sprouts, leaving them upside down to drain.
Pour excess water onto a thirsty plant.
a gallon of grown sprouts, after 3 days rinsing, into grinder with 1 ½ T salts
to an even, course consistency, add preheated starter & water, and
vigorously mix to doughy consistency. Hand knead if necessary.
9. Oil 5
qt. bowl and put dough into it. Cover with a clean cloth to sit undisturbed for
#1 label to fresh bowl, #2 label to #1 bowl, and #3 label to #2 bowl without
disturbing the working cultures. Remove finished dough from #3 bowl to
breadboard with minimal disturbance.
empty gallon jar, #3 bowl, starter container, and bread pans thoroughly with a dash of Dr. Bronner's soap, preserving water for irrigation.
2 cups of fresh dough for starter, cover with clean cloth, and refrigerate
13. Shape dough from
breadboard into oiled bread pans.
14. Bake ~1 hr. @ 350°F
until done. Test with a toothpick
loaves onto a rack to cool. Set pans to soak overnight.