George, my sourdough starter (thanks for naming him, ChannonD --and thanks everyone for your great suggestions), has been bubbling away for a few weeks now and I've been using him to make waffles, pancakes, and sandwich breads with different combinations of flours: all white, part whole-wheat, and all whole-wheat. You already have my recipe for Sourdough Sandwich Bread, and today, I want to share with you a recipe for my All Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich bread with no added yeast.
This is a super simple bread, and it requires just a few main ingredients: Flour, sourdough starter, and some sugar or molasses. I also add a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into the mix to help with the rise. Whole wheat flour is low in gluten, the substance that helps create structure in breads and helps them rise, and a little acid can actually help with gluten formation. You can substitute the vinegar with lemon juice.
I love this bread: it has a nuttier, warmer flavor than the all-white bread, which is excellent too, and although it doesn't rise as high, it has, as you can see, a nice, open crumb -- not so open that your peanut butter or jelly would slip through, but enough to make the bread light and airy and not dense at all, as wholegrain sandwich breads sometimes tend to be. Jay, who's missing a few teeth, loves this bread with the crust trimmed away. It makes great toast too!
I haven't shared my recipe for sourdough starter because I followed the one over on the King Arthur blog, except, as I told you in my last sourdough bread post, my sourdough is more hydrated-- it uses more water. If you want me to share the recipe for my starter, give me a holler and I will do so.
There is some waiting involved in the recipe, and you need to be patient, in order to help the gluten form. There are three rise times, including an overnight wait time while the flour and sourdough soak together. Trust me, it's all necessary to make sure you get the best bread possible.
I am going to keep this post short because I have something to talk about after the recipe. Stay tuned if you're interested, and weigh in if you want to. I would love to hear what you think.
All Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- 2 cups sourdough starter
- 2 cups water (I've been using distilled water for my breads because the chlorine can inhibit yeast and I find it does make a difference. But if you'd rather use tap water, that's okay too)
- 4-5 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp sugar or molasses
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Place the sourdough starter in a bowl along with the water, sugar, and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix well and let it stand overnight or about eight hours.
- Beat the dough the next morning with the kneading attachment of a stand mixer or with a ladle, then add salt, vinegar, and 1 more cup of flour. Continue to add the flour and mix, ¼ cup at a time, until you get a dough that feels sticky but doesn't really stick to the sides of the bowl.
- Continue kneading on a flat surface, by hand or in the stand mixer, for another five minutes. If the dough sticks to the surface as you knead, add a little flour, no more than a tablespoon at a time. You want a supple, smooth ball of dough that's not too firm.
- Coat a large bowl with oil and place the ball of dough in it, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
- Cover with cling wrap or with a tight lid and let it stand in a warm place for two hours or until doubled.
- Lightly grease two loaf pans with an oil spray or oil, and sprinkle some cornmeal or cream of wheat on the sides and the bottom.
- Punch the dough down and divide into two. Shape each half into a loaf by rolling it out into a rectangle about six inches wide and nine inches long, and then rolling it into a log. Tuck the sides down and pinch any seams together. Place the loaf, seam side down, into a prepared loaf pan. Repeat for the second loaf.
- Cover the loaves with a towel or -- better still -- with shower caps. This is a trick I learned from the King Arthur blog, Flourish, and it works really well because it allows the loaf to expand without weighing down the top, the way a kitchen towel would.
- Place the loaves in a warm place and let them rise two hours or until they dome slightly over the top. Whole wheat loaves will not dome or rise as much as white or part-whole-wheat breads will, so don't wait too long to bake in the hope that your loaf will rise further. After two hours, the bread is likely to lose its structure.
- About half hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When you're ready to bake the loaves, place them on the center rack and bake 40 minutes.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and, carefully, turn them out onto a rack. Let them stand, right side up, until they are thoroughly cool. As attractive as the smell of freshly baked bread is, resist the temptation to cut a slice off before the bread has thoroughly cooled because you can upset the moisture balance in the loaf.
- I like brushing or spraying the top with a little oil for an attractive look as soon as it comes out of the oven. But no need to do this if you'd rather not.
- Slice and eat!
Make these wholegrain breads next:
A reader left this comment on my last post on vegan stews: "Do you know "vegan" excludes lamb? I'm unsubscribing," wrote this person who didn't give their name, nor, it appears, bothered to look through the post or at the recipe for my Irish Lamb Stew which is made with TVP chunks and is indeed very vegan.
The next day, another reader, alluding to this reader's comment, wrote on a different post: "I am new to this community and I’ve had some doubts. I left a group because there was comments on how people should die because they held a pig roast. I love pigs, but I want to work on compassion for “all” creatures. The point is there seems to be some severe extreme militia type points of view in this community."
There's something seriously wrong with the way we are presenting ourselves to the world if we are giving new vegans, and those considering embracing a nonviolent lifestyle, the idea that vegans are intolerant, or worse, "militia type" people who would condone violence if it was directed toward people who are eating animals.
I get it -- it's frustrating for us ethical vegans. Billions of animals are "processed" by the food industry each year, after leading miserable lives on factory farms. Vegetarians make up just over 3 percent of the American population, and about half of these vegetarians are vegans, according to a Vegetarian Resource Group poll from this year. It's thrilling to consider the possibilities for animals if the numbers were much higher, and depressing that they aren't.
But look at it this way: there are way more vegans today in the world than there were even five or 10 years back, and certainly more than there were two decades ago, and our numbers are growing. What's even more promising is that people who are not ready to become full-fledged vegans yet are eating more plant-based meals because of all the options out there, the benefits to health, and growing awareness about animal cruelty. Meatless Mondays are catching on in workplaces and even in some school districts. The change for animals is slow in coming, and it couldn't come sooner, but it's happening.
There are many compassionate souls who love animals and do get the suffering and pain, but they still can't quite wrap themselves around the idea of giving up all meat. Desi, who is the kindest person I know and who loves animals even more passionately than I do, was vegan for a while, but eventually he did start eating meat occasionally, usually while visiting friends or family or while eating out. He eats vegan most days, and certainly at home, and that's good enough. Jay, who also loves animals and is a vegetarian, craves eggs and cheese. He saw these foods on television at the orphanage, and never -- or rarely -- got to eat them, so he longed for them when he came here. I let him eat them sometimes because they connect him to his past which he is not ready to let go of yet. I make sure I buy eggs and dairy that are responsibly sourced and humane, and I talk to him, in age-appropriate ways, about the suffering of dairy cows and egg-laying hens. My hope is that one day, when he better understands that suffering -- and I am sure he will because he's a wise little soul -- he will embrace an all-plant-based lifestyle. But I want that decision to be his, or it will never stick, the way it does not for many Indian kids who grow up in traditionally vegetarian families and start eating meat the moment they experience independence.
It might be good to remind ourselves of what's happening in India where Hindu extremists who call themselves "cow protectors" have been going around targeting people who eat beef (usually Muslims and Christians). In one instance, the militants forced two workers driving a truck carting beef to eat cow poop and then put the video online as a lesson to others. A man was dragged out of his home and killed because the "cow protectors" suspected he had eaten beef (investigators later found out it was mutton, goat's meat), and another man was lynched for transporting beef. A couple, suspected by the militants of carrying beef in their baggage, was beaten up at a railway station when they refused to let the "cow protectors" search their bags. The stories go on and on, each more horrifying that the other. The agenda for the "cow protectors" is not really the cows who perhaps are in greater mortal danger from consuming plastic bags floating all over the landscape in urban India. No, their agenda is persecuting religious minorities.
I digress to make this point: a true animal lover does not condone violence to humans as a means to an end; militants with an insidious agenda do. The very basis of our vegan lifestyle is rooted in non-violence, because we love all creatures and we don't want to see them suffer. As Gandhi, the father of non-violence and an animal lover himself, often pointed out, violence can be committed as surely with words as with actions. As vegans, let's stop committing violence with our words against the people who are not vegan. If we do, we'll only push them further, and that's not going to help any animals.