how i make bread: wholewheat flax seed no-knead, with photos

a crappy day, due to the wearing effects of spending my daylight hours with immature people whose overly-brandished opinions offend me.

actually, it’s not their opinions: it’s their casual bigotry, which is too fucking thoughtless to be granted the status of “opinion”.

many of the older students have graduated from our program in these past few days, including the ones with whom i had the most in common, leaving me surrounded by (young, white, able-bodied, privileged, male) offensive loudmouths.

i don’t really want to talk about it; i just want to cook.

with that in mind, i’m going to tell you how i make bread.

*****

last winter, i had a bread machine with which i produced delicious wholewheat molasses bread.  it was pretty damn good, but required too many ingredients for daily baking.  after hunting around for something simpler, i got really into making no-knead bread, which i’d previously discounted as another odd foodie obsession of my father’s.  once i started making it myself, i too was hooked, because the bread is just so tasty.  it reminds me of the loaves from the greek bakery i went to as a kid, that was on the danforth around the corner from my dad’s place.

the original recipe that i used came from the new y0rk t!mes; this is my wholewheat version. it’s long, but only cuz there’s more technique than ingredients.

please note that part of that technique is loooooooooooong rising periods.  so, it’s less work, but it still takes awhile.  plan ahead for good bread!

to make this bread, you need a cast iron pot, with a lid.  i bought mine new for $100 (as one of the first pieces of mine and oats’ shared property – the other was a crockpot!  yes, we are *so* homo), but you can find them cheaper and also secondhand.  cast iron is awesome for all sorts of cooking, and i highly recommend investing in a good pot.

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fg’s wholewheat and flax seed no-knead bread
makes 2 loaves

4 cups wholewheat flour (plus more for dusting)
2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
3 cups warm water

1/4 cup flax seeds

(PART 1 – i usually do this part at bedtime)

turn the oven on to low. let it warm for a minute, then turn it off. whenever i refer to a “warm oven”, this is what i mean. it’s not hot; you should still be able to touch inside walls quite comfortably.

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in a big bowl (or saucepan!), combine all the ingredients except the flax seeds.

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you’ll get a shaggy, sticky dough.  cover the bowl with a plate or plastic bag (i use my big saucepan cuz it has a lid), and place the whole thing in the warm oven for ~8 hours.

(PART 2 – i usually do this part at breakfast)

remove your dough from the oven; it should look a bit wet, have smoothed out in the bowl, and have some small holes on the surface.

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warm the oven again, re-cover the dough, and put it back in the oven for another ~8 hours.

(PART 3 – i usually do this part after school/work)

take the dough back out of the oven, and warm the oven again. the dough should now look even wetter, and have lots of little bubbles on the surface.

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dust a clean counter or large cutting board with a thick coating of flour, and sprinkle it with flax seeds.

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dump your dough out into the centre of the floured area, using a spoon to get all the stringy bits if necessary.

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now that your dough has worked so hard, let it rest for about 15 minutes.

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working with one half of the dough at a time, shaped it into tidy round loaves by pinching the outer edge, pulling it up, and pushing it down again into the centre, as demonstrated below.

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dust a clean tea towel with flour, and place the loaves on half of it, folded side down.

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fold the other half of the tea towel over the loaves, tuck in the edge a little, and put back into the oven to rise.

(PART 4 – i usually do this right before dinner)

after ~1 hour, remove the loaves.  they should have gotten much bigger!

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cover them again, and set them aside somewhere warmish and not draftly (the counter is probably fine).

put your cast iron pot in the oven, and turn it all the way up to 450 degrees celcius.  let it heat for 1/2 hour.

carefully remove your hot pot from the oven, and dump in one of the lumps of dough, with the smooth side down.

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cover it with a lid, pop it back in the oven, and bake for 1/2 hour.

voila!

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remove the loaf to a rack to cool, and repeat with the other lump of dough.

while that one’s baking, grab a knife and cut yourself a nice slice of that first loaf.

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savour its flavour and texture, and take pride in the fact that your made it with your own hands, because you are worth it.  no matter what the homophobic bastards say, your life is worth celebrating.

4 responses to “how i make bread: wholewheat flax seed no-knead, with photos

  1. Those are some nice, clear directions and lovely photographs (very detailed!) for this process. As soon as I locate some good-quality stoneground wholewheat flour, I’ll be on my way trying this one. Never mind that I work with bread all day at the bakery, I like to make some at home, too! :)

    • feralgeographer

      thanks! i completely understand that you’d want to make your own despite working in a bakery… the process can a good thinking exercise for clearing the mind!

      i’ve been thinking of some options for warm places where the dough can rise and may change that part of this recipe: now that the winter’s here and we’re facing furnace oil bills at my house, i’ve become more conscious of how much energy is wasted by my warm oven technique… i think i might make a variation on the hay box instead!

      • Hmm! The haybox cooker looks like a clever invention.

        I wonder though whether it would hold enough heat when bread dough doesn’t really have much intrinsic heat – especially in a no-knead recipe. Also, doesn’t it need some intake of oxygen? I’m pretty sure a tight insulated seal like the haybox seems to give might suffocate the yeast. Sorry to punch the air out of your dough …

        But do you have a refrigerator? They’re often warm on top. Or cuddle your bread in the blankets when you’re no longer in them?

  2. Pingback: home-baked no-knead bread = nourishing & comforting « Vegan Activist

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