Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nutrient-Dense Bread Making: A Compromise

In Sally Fallon's lovely cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, she offers a compromise for bread makers: Yeasted Buttermilk Bread. The flour is soaked, but the recipe still calls for yeast.

Yeast is a compromise because "active dry yeast" and the wild yeasts in the air that create a sourdough are not the same. Think of this difference: sourdough can take 4-12+ hours to double, and does not get punched down. That is because there are significantly less powerful yeasts at work. Further, many people use a packaged instant yeast for their bread making, which I have just discovered uses GMO's!

However, for someone transitioning to traditional foods, jumping straight to sourdough can be difficult both for flavor and for texture. Further, sometimes you need to make bread in between your sourdough cycle. We have found the Yeasted Buttermilk Bread to be delicious and easier on the stomach for my 2-year-old than commercially sprouted breads (you might note that I do not have any photos of the two loaves whole....we cannot resist this bread fresh from the oven, not even long enough to take a picture!).

Another perk: it is so easy!

Quick Directions:
Soak 4 cups whole grain flour (I use spelt) in 1 - 1.5 cups buttermilk on the counter for 12-24 hours (24 is best).
Place 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast in 1/4 cup warm filtered water with 2 tbsp honey. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp baking soda + 1 tsp sea salt to the yeast solution and mix well.
Divide soaked flour in half. Place half in food processor and combine with 1/2 cup whole grain flour (again, I use spelt), and half of the yeast solution.
Repeat with the other half of the soaked flour. Then slightly knead halves together and let rise in a bowl for 2 hours in a warm place.
Punch down and slightly knead (or process quickly again in the food processor in halves), divide in half, shape loaves, and place in buttered loaf pans. Let rise another 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn out and let cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

Alternately, when you form your loaves, you can form them into about 24 little balls and stuff them into a 11-inch spring form pan for delicious yeasted buttermilk rolls.

When I was having sourdough starter issues here at the new house (which now seem to be resolved) I was making these buttermilk loafs every other day much to the satisfaction of the whole household and anyone who stopped by.


  1. Marianne,
    From what I can tell this can be adapted for the bread machine (I don't use instant yeast!). It seems the big difference between my recipes for the bread machine and yours is just soaking the flour. Am I correct in thinking I can just soak the flower in whatever liquid will be used for the recipe - water, milk, buttermilk?

  2. Sarah,
    I definitely think you could make soaked flour loaves in the bread machine (though I have no experience). You are partially correct with the soaking liquid. The goal is actually lacto-fermentation for the grains (to break down the Phytase and make the grains digestible and the nutrients absorbable). So, water would not be sufficient. Water with lemon juice or whey would. You can soak flours in yogurt, buttermilk, whey solutions, cream cheese, butter, kefir. Different soaking textures will make for different textures in the loaf. For breads, I think buttermilk is the nicest. Fresh milk would probably not be the best bet, as all the above mentioned dairy products are fermented/soured to begin with.

    I use yogurt and butter for pizza dough, cream cheese for some pastries (rugelach), but I've only used buttermilk for bread (or my homemade sourdough culture).

    I would love to hear reports of your experiments!

  3. I just got the book, haven't cracked it open yet, but I think this may be a goal for tomorrow or monday...both days off (!!)

  4. Meg! Yay! Have you started reading yet? The first 63 pages are like a crash course on traditional nutrition (with all the modern science to support it). Hope you enjoy it. The recipes are delightful too.

  5. I didn't get to it Friday, plans changed, I'll have to do it Monday.


Questions and Comments welcome! If you would prefer to contact me privately, please email mariannescrivner (at) gmail (dot) com.


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