Mark has been on a bread-baking tear the last couple of weeks. He recently read Michael Pollan’s Cooked, and has been working on Pollan’s no-knead 100% whole wheat sourdough loaves. It’s not an easy feat, but these loaves have been really good and getting even better.
Pollan says most commercial whole wheat flour is made from grain that has been wetted before grinding (unlike ours), to make the bran separate more easily, but this is bad, because it sets off a series of enzymatic changes that degrade the flour and make an inferior loaf.
Confusingly, you do want those enzymatic changes to happen, but not until just before the loaves are baked. Mark, following Pollan’s advice, has been mixing the whole wheat flour with water about 18 hours in advance, and turning in his sourdough starter the night before an early morning bake. The dough is quite wet, and baked in lidded cast iron pots in a 500 degree oven.
The result is a pretty decent crumb for a 100% whole wheat loaf, ridiculously good flavor, and an absolutely top-notch crust. If you’re baking from Essex Farm flour, send us your best pictures and tips so we can pass them along. […] Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.