A few weeks ago I had great success with this recipe, but I really wanted to nail down a version of it that was 100% whole grain, and that would be more in line with a Nourishing Traditions-style bread (where the grain is soaked, fermented, or sprouted). So after a bit of tinkering, I present you:
Easy, No-knead, 100% Whole Wheat Nourishing Traditions Bread
3 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. honey (optional)
Scant 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
Cornmeal for dusting
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add buttermilk, oil, honey, and 1 c. water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky, almost more like a very thick cake batter than bread dough. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let dough rest 18 – 24 hours, at warm room temperature.
2. After a good rest, the dough should have expanded and should be releasing occasional bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice — if it’s really wet you might not be able to handle it like normal bread dough. If it seems really hard to handle just use a scraper to scrape it into something resembling a pile. Don’t worry about it if it seems gooey and weird. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; scrape your dough up into something resembling a ball and put it down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise/spread for about 2 hours. If your dough is still really wet at this point, the towel will absorb some of the water and it will start to look a lot more like bread dough. When it is ready, dough will be roughly double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. Around a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 5- or 6-quart heavy covered pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove the now-hot pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned — keep an eye on it during this last part because it can vary.
Make sure you cool it completely on a rack so the crust can fully develop.
This bread is good, but honestly don’t expect it to be quite as tasty as my other recipe for no-knead bread. The fact is, the more white flour you use, the more palatable the end result will be. So I guess I would call this version more of an every day version, and the other version could be a special occasion type of thing. This is not really a sandwich bread. More of a dipping in soup or mopping up lentils type thing. You could make sandwiches with it, but the crust is quite thick and chewy, so be aware of that. YUM.
For quite a lot more about the whole no-knead bread baking phenomenon, read my original post and recipe. More information than you will ever need, really.
Note for the NT people: notice that I don’t call for freshly-ground whole wheat flour. I have not had good luck AT ALL with using that for bread. My flour mill is a lower-end one, and I think it just doesn’t grind the kernels finely enough. So for our bread-baking we’re using store-bought organic flour from the co-op. For now.
Update, January 21, 2011: So, our lives just keep getting crazier and crazier, and I’ve adapted this recipe even further. Here’s the version I’ve been making lately:
7 c. whole wheat bread flour
1 scant tsp. yeast
1 scant T. sea salt
2 1/2 – 3 c. water
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. olive oil
This will give you a dough that’s less wet, and therefore more suitable to other methods of baking. The original recipe above is very wet and can really only be baked with the hot cast-iron pot method. This adaptation is firm enough to be shaped into a free-form loaf or used for pizza crust. It also makes a lot more. So now I mix up this recipe about once a week and we can make regular loaves of bread or pizza, all from the same bucket. I just let it rise at least 8 hours or overnight, then stick it in the fridge and we grab a handful of it as we go. (This is all very much inspired by Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I highly recommend.) This makes around 3 small loaves, or 3 pizzas.