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For decades members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been counseled to keep adequate food storage as a part of emergency preparedness. Last night, Colleen taught the sisters in our ward how to make naturally leavened bread. The sisters were surprised that with just water, salt, and fresh-ground whole wheat flour you could make bread loaves that rise up beautifully, and that you could use the dough to make all sorts of delectable bread delights, such as cinnamon rolls, foccacia bread, pizza, flat bread, and even braided bread desserts. Once you get a feel for this friendly dough, you are limited only by your imagination.

Naturally Leavened Bread

What is naturally leavened bread? Years ago, before the bread-making industry was commercialized, naturally leavened bread was the bread everyone used in their daily lives. This was back before the grain-related disorders so many suffer from today. 

With a sourdough start, you could whip up a batch of dough in about ten minutes, allow it to rise slowly, punch it down and form it into loaves, allow it to rise once again, then cook it. You could add sweeteners if you wanted such as molasses, honey, or sugar, but most folks didn't because you could simply add a daub of butter and honey to a slice of sourdough bread after it was cooked and you used a whole lot less honey to sweeten your bread.

Commercial Bread-Making Industry

Well, the commercial bread-making industry figured out how to isolate strains of yeast that made bread raise very quickly compared to the old-fashion bread-making method; soon sourdough starts became a thing of the past for most of us. What we didn't know when we traded Old-World leavening techniques for quick-rise yeasts, is that not everything in wheat is good for you. In fact, there are several elements in wheat that are down-right problematic and that have led to grain intolerances in about 20 percent of today's population.

When you compare what happens to the bread when it is leavened with commercial yeasts versus a good sourdough starter, another story unfolds. The quick-rise yeasts do absolutely nothing to neutralize the harmful elements found in wheat. With commerical yeast, the bread rises; it looks like bread; it smells like bread; and it tastes like bread. The problem is, the commerical yeast only causes the bread to rise; it doesn't neutralize any of the harmful effects of wheat.

The Smart Choice

Now let's look at what happens when you use a really good sourdough starter. The sourdough starter contains several natural strains of friendly bacteria and yeasts that also cause bread to rise; however, these friendly bacteria also neutralize the harmful effects of the grain. They neutralize phytic acids that otherwise prevent minerals found in the grain from being absorbed properly; they predigest the gluten, and they also neutralize lignans and tanins found in wheat.

When you master the old-fashioned way of making bread, you introduce friendly little critters into your dough that predigest the grain and neutralize the harmful effects associated with grain. And for all you faithful who have stored or squirreled away bags and buckets of wheat for food storage, you can now turn it into a useful commodity you can enjoy for everyday living that is inexpensive, practical, and healthful.

Get a Good Starter and Get Going!

Colleen and I use a sourdough starter that has been kept going since the early 1800s, for well over 150 years. It's a really great starter and is a breeze to work with. If you would like to have fun learning to make bread the way it should be made do the following:

  1. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope and $5.00 to receive starter powder. Instructions for turning the dry starter you will receive into a live, active wet starter are found on page 14 of the free Daniel's Challenge Download (see Main Page--upper left side of screen). Send to the following address: Dry Starter, 1221 N 1271 E, American Fork, UT 84003. 
  2. After you receive your starter, follow instructions found on page 14 of Daniel's Challenge for turning the dry-starter powder into an active auromatic sourdough starter.
  3. Watch the naturally leavened bread-making video for making the dough.
  4. Then, watch the other naturally leavened bread-making videos for learning varous things you can make from the dough (bread loaves, pizza, braided twists, flatbread, cinamon rolls...)
  5. Begin making naturally leavened bread; the more you do it the easier it becomes, until it is truly a breeze.
  6. Post your bread-making questions on this forum, and we will include whatever helps that are most useful to you.
  7. Watch the following video for making dough from the starter to see just how easy this is, and also watch the many videos that teach what you can make with the dough!

Find more videos like this on LDS Health Today

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We've been using this type of bread for over a year and love it! I've never had cravings again for bread like I used to after I started using this.
I have whole wheat grain in my food storage. I have a vita mix "as I understand" will grind for me. Granted I haven't tried yet. Mostly out of fear, I don't want to start without a clear understanding of the full process. I'm wondering about the hard hull of the grain. Does that effect the ground flour or the dough at all?

I'm looking forward to my starter I've sent for.

Thank you,

Carolyn Shields
Isn't there a way to "start" a start without sending off for one? I have done it before, but the recipe started out with yeast... and white flour.
Would you please post your recipe for Naturally Levened bread? I would love to move to this kind of bread. Love to! I already make a lot of my bread products and have even had some good luck making artisan bread -- but not with whole grains and with yeast. I would much rather use those "little critters".
Thank you so much!
Ronell
Logan
ps Hi Nancy! I haven't seen or spoken to you in a looong time! =)
I prefer grinding my wheat with a wheat mill. I've done it with my VitaMix, but it isn't near as handy as a mill. The reason is because the mill grinds so much more at a time and when we make bread we always do at least 8 pounds of bread when we do it. Our mill grinds exactly what we need for one full batch of bread.

Carolyn Shields said:
I have whole wheat grain in my food storage. I have a vita mix "as I understand" will grind for me. Granted I haven't tried yet. Mostly out of fear, I don't want to start without a clear understanding of the full process. I'm wondering about the hard hull of the grain. Does that effect the ground flour or the dough at all?

I'm looking forward to my starter I've sent for.

Thank you,

Carolyn Shields
Sure, the "little critters" are a variety of strains of lactobacilli. They float in the air, they are everywhere. You can start a start from scratch with just water and flour; however, it takes about two weeks to turn it into a really good start. A shortcut is to use some probiotic that has a variety of active strains of lactobacilli and to add it to one cup of wheat flour, with enough water to make a pancake batter-like consistency. Feed it with another cup of flour each day until it begins to bubble fairly quickly when you feed it. You can throw some of the batter out, if you get too much volume. Once the batter bubbles up actively within one to three hours of feeding it, it is ready to begin using for bread making. Once you get a good starter going, feed it at least once a week and then put it in the refrigerator unto you are ready to use it. If you let it sit for several weeks, pour off the ugly water and refresh it a few times by adding more flour and water to it. It becomes pretty acidic when it sits for long periods of time. We refresh ours two or three times during the course of a day, until it has a pleasant non-acidic aroma. Then we use it for bread making. However, when we use it more often (once a week), it never needs refreshing.

Ronell said:
Isn't there a way to "start" a start without sending off for one? I have done it before, but the recipe started out with yeast... and white flour.
Would you please post your recipe for Naturally Levened bread? I would love to move to this kind of bread. Love to! I already make a lot of my bread products and have even had some good luck making artisan bread -- but not with whole grains and with yeast. I would much rather use those "little critters".
Thank you so much!
Ronell
Logan
ps Hi Nancy! I haven't seen or spoken to you in a looong time! =)
I think I will send off for one! =) I am SUPER excited!!
Thank you.
Curious if you have tried adding other grains to the mill for this bread?
Ronell
You sent me some of the starter about a year ago in the mail but it must have gotten stuck in a machine or something in the post office because when the envelope got to me me it was all torn up and some of the starter had spilled. I never used it since part was gone and I didn't know if it was all still safe to eat. Anyway, I have about 1/2 Tablespoon of it and would like to try using it but I don't know what to do with it anymore. Is 1/2 T enough and can you explain what I do to it to make the wet starter?
Thanks so much,
MIchelle

James Simmons said:
Sure, the "little critters" are a variety of strains of lactobacilli. They float in the air, they are everywhere. You can start a start from scratch with just water and flour; however, it takes about two weeks to turn it into a really good start. A shortcut is to use some probiotic that has a variety of active strains of lactobacilli and to add it to one cup of wheat flour, with enough water to make a pancake batter-like consistency. Feed it with another cup of flour each day until it begins to bubble fairly quickly when you feed it. You can throw some of the batter out, if you get too much volume. Once the batter bubbles up actively within one to three hours of feeding it, it is ready to begin using for bread making. Once you get a good starter going, feed it at least once a week and then put it in the refrigerator unto you are ready to use it. If you let it sit for several weeks, pour off the ugly water and refresh it a few times by adding more flour and water to it. It becomes pretty acidic when it sits for long periods of time. We refresh ours two or three times during the course of a day, until it has a pleasant non-acidic aroma. Then we use it for bread making. However, when we use it more often (once a week), it never needs refreshing.

Ronell said:
Isn't there a way to "start" a start without sending off for one? I have done it before, but the recipe started out with yeast... and white flour.
Would you please post your recipe for Naturally Levened bread? I would love to move to this kind of bread. Love to! I already make a lot of my bread products and have even had some good luck making artisan bread -- but not with whole grains and with yeast. I would much rather use those "little critters".
Thank you so much!
Ronell
Logan
ps Hi Nancy! I haven't seen or spoken to you in a looong time! =)
I used the starter you sent with me before we left for our mission in Hong Kong and have made a pretty good starter. However, the only wheat we can get here is not finely ground and the dough did not rise sufficiently after sitting for 24 hours. I made it anyway and it was very dense and sour. Yesterday I used twice as much starter and the dough raised double after about 8 hours so I molded it into loaves but after 2 hours the loaves had not risen sufficently. I baked it anyway and the flavor is fabulous but it is too dense. Should I have let is raise more than double the first time? Does the 12 hour rising depend on room temperature? I love your videos. They are so well done and so helpful. Colleen is a pro!
Susan Bishop
What kind of mixer do you use for this? Also, what is the cutter you use for the dough?
This answers my question. Thanks
I would like to try this kind of bread, but wonder if we would like it. Previously when we have purchased sourdough bread, we haven't cared for it all that much. I don't have an electric mixer such as is shown in the video, either, and since they are rather expensive, I'd really like to try making the bread without one, first, to be certain we would like it enough to justify spending so much. Has anyone made bread like this without a mixer? Can they offer suggestions for how I would do it?
Our family enjoys this bread quite a bit, including the younger children and grandchildren; you can mix it by hand quite easily. After you combine all the ingredients into a dough, knead it for 15 minutes by hand. If you are unsure, don't go to the expense until you know for sure. I'll post a couple of recipes, one that is sweet and one that is sour. We enjoy them both; however, the sour version is more economical.

Roy and Nancy Nichols said:
We've been using this type of bread for over a year and love it! I've never had cravings again for bread like I used to after I started using this.

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