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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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I made the pancakes today with the starter. Very good.
"#2 After you receive your starter, follow instructions for turning the dry-starter powder into an active auromatic sourdough starter."
Where do I find this?
Thank you!
Instructions for using the dry starter to make active starter are found on page 14 of the free Daniel's Challenge Download. You can access this download from any page by going just below the Original Fast Foods purchase offer on the right side of the screen, to the free download offer.
"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."

I'm allergic to wheat, just within the last several years. I tried this recipe, thinking it would make it ok to eat wheat again. The bread turned out wonderful, and my children continue to enjoy it. However, a word of warning to those who are gluten-intolerant---this is not a safe recipe. I was not able to eat it and had a strong allergic reaction just as if it were commercial bread or other wheat products. I will be trying this with rye flour and using xantham gum to help bind it as gluten does to this bread.
Many with severe gluten intolerance issues, including celiac disease, have had just the opposite experience in a clinical setting in Provo. For those who do not have gluten intolerance issues, leavening 8 to 15 hours is fine to produce a fine loaf; for those with severe issues, leavening must extend until the feed source is exhausted by the lactobacilli (24+ hours depending upon kitchen temperature). At that point, there are a few tricks you can employ to turn it into a great pancake batter, flat bread, foccacia bread, pizza dough, cinamon treats, and so forth. For further information about others who have enjoyed the success that has eluded you, give Dr. Matt McClean a call in Provo, Utah to discuss your concerns and to seek more specialized attention. He works directly with cases such as yours; I do not. I appreciate your concern and warning; I would also appreciate follow-up comments from you after receiving and applying his advice. Please let us know specifically what works and doesn't work for you. Your unique issues may ultimately serve others more fully. Jim
I purchased your bread starter and did not have much luck with it. I combined the water, starter and whole wheat flour. I let it sit for 24 hours and didn't notice any difference in the product. It didn't look bubbly at all. It just sat on my kitchen counter at room temp. Do you have any other suggestions to activate it?
Where do I purchase the starter from

Thank you for all the info on making naturally leavened bread. I made the starter outlined in Peter Reinhart's book "The Breadmaker's Apprentice." I made two loaves of one of Reinhart's recipes yesterday, with help from your instructions. Today I am baking the whole wheat loaves shown in your video. I'm totally excited. :)

Awesome, if you have any questions as you go, feel free to ask. It took us a few tries but once you get the hang of it, it is easy-peasy:)

Kristen said:

Thank you for all the info on making naturally leavened bread. I made the starter outlined in Peter Reinhart's book "The Breadmaker's Apprentice." I made two loaves of one of Reinhart's recipes yesterday, with help from your instructions. Today I am baking the whole wheat loaves shown in your video. I'm totally excited. :)

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