Although I do usually stay clear of gluten, occasionally, I like to make it for my family. There’s something very satisfying about watching yeast grow and turn into a beautiful loaf of bread. I originally found this recipe through the tartine bakery in Sanfrancisco but modified to make it with more wholewheat. Although this bread does take all day to make, I find if you’re tinkering around the house, you can manage this without seeming to be a lot of work. This bread has next to no kneeding apart from 4 turns to increase the gluten activity. If you have an hour to stick near the kitchen, you can go out for 4-5 hours and come back later to bake. This is truly the most lovely bread and seems to work every time in my large creuset. With the lid on , the creuset pot simulates a convention oven and creates a loaf that is golden and crunchy on the outside and bubbled and fluffy with a slightly sour flavour on the inside. This recipe makes 2 very very large loaves.
To make it easy on myself, I make a starter before I go to bed. I simply mix up the 21/2 cups wholewheat flour. Let proof yeast and warm water with sugar and add to the flour. I use my hands to get as much yeast into the bread as possible and mix it up until it’s a nice well mixed paste. I cover it with a bag overnight and by morning, my starter is puffy and ready to go. In the morning, I add the 5 1/2 cups warm water to the starter and slowly break it up between my fingers trying to get it as broken up as possible. Then I add the liquid starter to my dough with the additional 4 cups of warm water and continue to mix through my fingers until the dough is nice and wet.
I then let the dough rest 30 minutes and then add the 5 TBLS of salt that has been dissolving in a quarter cup of warm water and pour that into the dough and mix it in through my fingers until it is thoroughly mixed. Then over the course of 1 hour, I simply set the timer for every 20 minutes and turn the dough over on itself 4 turns to activate the gluten. You know it’s working as the dough becomes more mixed and more elastic each time you turn it. Once you’ve done it the 3rd time, you cover the dough and let in rise on the counter for 4 hours.
After the fourth or fifth hour, your dough should have doubled in size and you can now dump it on the floured counter and cut it in half.
You can let the dough rest for 20 minutes and then turn it over on itself 4 times and then put each ball into a rice floured tea towelled bowl. I like to cover the tops of the loaves with saran wrap so they don’t dry out.
Fours later, you should have nicely risen loaves ready to bake. At this point, you should already have your creuset preheated in the oven at 475 degrees. The tricky part is pulling out the hot creuset pot, removing the lid and dumping the dough over into the pot so it is relatively centered. You then put on the lid and let it bake for at least 35 minutes or until the bread to nicely browned on top. Once removed from the oven, you can dump onto a rack and put in the next loaf. I can’t fit 2 large creusets in the oven at once.
It really is a beautiful thing seeing such a huge lovely loaf come out of the oven. Once cooled, I usually cut this into quarters and freeze so it’s fresh when I need a great piece of toast. I hope you enjoy your labours of love.
- 21/2 cups wholewheat flour
- 2 cups warm water
- ¼ tsp yeast
- 1 TBLS sugar
- 71/2 cups wholewheat flour
- 71/2 cups white flour
- 5 TBLS kosher rock salt
- 4 additional cups warm water as needed
- To make starter, mix 21/2 cups flour and 2 cups proofed yeast.
- Mix well with your hands until very wet and cover loosely overnight
- Next morning , measure out 15 cups of flour
- Add 51/2 cups of warm water to starter and break up the mix
- Add liquid starter to flour with an additional 4 cups of warm water
- Mix dough well with your hands until dough is well mixed and wet
- Leave mix for 30 minutes to rest
- Add 5 TBLS kosher salt to ¼ cup of warm water to dry and dissolve
- Add salt to dough and mix in thoroughly with your hands
- Leave dough loosely covered for 4-5 hours
- Once doubled in size, dump out dough onto floured surface and cut in half
- Turn each dough loaf over itself 4 times and place in rice flour tea toweled bowls
- Let loaves rise an additional 4 hours until doubled in sized
- Put large 12 quart creuset with lid in the oven and preheat oven to 475 degrees
- Remove lid and dump loaf into hot pot
- Slash loaf and return lid
- Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock it.