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Two Loaves of Ezekiel Bread, a Pizza, and Why it Took Nearly 48 Hours to Make them

Firstly, this post is not about how to make Ezekiel Bread, per se, but more about how to incorporate bread making into the rhythm of your daily life rather than upsetting it. I have always thought, and still do, that the bread mostly makes itself, we simply provide the correct conditions and guide it along. And while this can be applied to any of the bread recipes on this blog it just happens that I was making Ezekiel bread. There is a recipe for Ezekiel bread below, but if you'd like more detailed instructions with additional photos--and to read about my views on this bread--click here and here.

Anyhow, the reason it took me 48 hours to make this bread is not that it is any more difficult to make than other breads, it's just that, well...sometimes life gets in the way of your plans. Here's a quick story and an example of what I mean.

Two evenings ago I thought I'd start a batch of this bread and let it ferment overnight, so I boiled the grains and beans in the evening. After they were boiled I shut them off on the stove to let them cool and forgot about them. Literally. So I just put a plate over the pot and went to bed for the evening. I had to work yesterday evening but thought I'd make the bread prior to going to work so I started the preferment and autolysis first thing in the morning. Well, you guessed it, time slipped away from me and I never even mixed the dough let alone baked the bread. So I covered the bowls of preferment and autolysis and placed them both in the refrigerator, and then went to work. This morning when I initially woke, I took the bowls out of the fridge to let them come to room temp for about an hour or so. Then--finally--I combined the two bowls and mixed the dough. After placing the dough in a rising bucket I returned it to the fridge and went to church. When I came home the dough had risen so I pushed it down and replaced it into the fridge while I did some yard work. Later, I removed the dough from the fridge, cut it into three pieces--two for bread and one for pizza--and panned all of them up. After allowing them to warm a bit again, I returned them to the fridge while I did some errands and stopped at the grocery store. When I returned, I removed the doughs from the fridge for the last time and preheated the oven while I made the pizza. By the time I put together the pizza the oven and pizza stone was hot enough so I baked the pizza. After removing it, and allowing it to cool for about 5 minutes, I baked the bread while I ate the pizza. All-in-all, it was about 48 hours from boiling the beans until the bread came out of the oven and--while the above text may make it sound complex--it barely disrupted my life. One can postpone the dough from rising and fermenting it by refrigerating it, thus controlling how it progresses. 

This recipe in general is delicious, but because of the long slow fermentation it tastes especially full-flavored. And yes the pizza was/is delicious as well. Now if you'll excuse me I think I'll go grab another slice.

Whole Wheat Ezekiel Bread
Makes 2 or 3 loaves
12 cups water
2 tablespoons white beans
2 tablespoons red beans
2 tablespoons spelt berries
2 tablespoons lentils
2 tablespoons barley
2 tablespoons millet
2 tablespoons bulgur wheat
cooked beans and grains
1/2 cup cooking water
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast

4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups cooking liquid

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons sea salt
3 teaspoons instant yeast

Boil the grains in the water in logical succession according to cooking times: first the white and red beans (about 60 minutes), when they are soft add the, spelt berries, lentils, and barley (about 30 minutes); lastly, add the millet and bulgar (about 10 minutes). The key is that after each addition the previous grain must be soft enough so that when all of the grains are in the pot they will all be equally soft; undercooked grains (especially the beans) can really ruin this bread. And as the grains cook add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it's evaporation). After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. After the grains are cooled drain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.

Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained grains with 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 2 teaspoons instant yeast. Stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups cooking liquid; stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it's job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.


Myka said…
My grandmother always has homemade bread in the house, it's something that I think I might like to aspire to as well.
Joe said… should try it. It's easier than you may think and it's so delicious :)

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