Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast: Recipes for Whole Grain Health by Melissa Richardson
I purchased the book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson a few years ago. The recipes looked fantastic so I sent away for a sample of dried yeast (as the authors offer) and then I did NOTHING with it. I’ve kept that book with me through a few moves and even have it now that I’m at our new temporary home. I could only take about 15 cookbooks and this is one of the ones I chose, it’s that good.
I have always wanted to master the skill of baking bread and Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast: Recipes for Whole Grain Health makes it seem completely within my grasp.
I don’t want to make any kind of bread, though. None of that white bread stuff. I’m looking for the healthy kind that has been made for centuries. This book gives me detailed instructions and healthy whole grain recipes.
While you can purchase the first book (and probably should, you will get many great recipes and insights from it), it’s not necessary. Melissa makes sure you understand the whole process of keeping your natural yeast alive, happily fed, and growing in the fridge.
What Makes Natural Yeast Bread Healthy?
It’s the live cultures. Lactobacilli is actually the name for the entire “family” of lactic acid-producing bacteria. L. Acidophilus is what you find in yogurt. L. Sanfranciscensis is the variety found in sourdough and naturally yeasted bread. To a certain degree, they both do an important job in our digestive system, by raising the acidity of our gastrointestinal tract to the point that harmful bacteria cannot survive there. “Lactobacilli are like teenage boys: all they care about is food. It doesn’t matter if it is new, old, or maybe even not edible—lactobacilli will give it a try.”
Even after cooking, these bacteria will live on in your fresh bread and help to extend its natural shelf life.
We bake our bread with living organisms. The only thing we can control in life is our ability to turn mistakes into a crucial foundation of experience and knowledge. Remember, we’re not learning to bake bread; we’re learning to be bakers! We make the mistakes only bakers can make. So don’t begrudge the “tuition” we all must pay; it’s an honor to be enrolled in such a prestigious “school”! Melissa Richardson
Embrace the Sponge
Some breads are soaked overnight by creating a sponge. Mixing up a portion of dough to rise overnight, to which you will add more ingredients in the morning, is called a sponge. This is typical for breads and pastries that include perishable ingredients that you are concerned might spoil.
Today Is the Day for Natural Yeast!
Today, I reconstituted my flakes as directed in the book. All you have to do it dissolve the flakes in 1/4 cup of water. It took a few hours for the two-year-old flakes to fully dissolve. I didn’t want to add hot water, I was afraid it would kill it (like regular yeast, but I did end up putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it. Then I added my ¼ cup of organic wheat flour, covered it with a coffee filter and rubber band, and put it in the fridge. It’s that simple.
I will keep you updated on its progress. Melissa names her starters (Peeta and Gale), so I better come up with something too. Maybe…Elsie, that’s a good old fashioned name for a friend you plan on taking care of for a long time.
UPDATE: Three days after reconstituting my 2-year-old yeast flakes – it is ALIVE! I wasn’t so sure for the first few days, there was absolutely no activity, but this morning there is liquid on the top and bubbles in the starter. No baking going on just yet, but Elsie is going to live and provide us with delicious bread in the future. It was as easy as Melissa said to activate a dehydrated start.
Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast by Melanie Richardson is just as visually appealing as the original book. The recipes are easy to follow so you will find yumminess on every page. I can’t wait to dig in and try them.
The first recipes I’m going to try are:
- –Spelt Rosemary Flax Bread (page 46) made in a crock pot. Did you know you can bake bread in a crock pot? Well, you can! It’s perfect for those wanting to add whole grains into their daily diet.
- –Indoor Dutch Oven Bread (page 48) looks intriguing too and something I’m anxious to try.
- –Sprouted Oat Rolls (page 42) will work fantastic for using my food storage grains.
- –Pumpkin pancakes (page 67) look too good to pass up and I love pumpkin.
“Make your body work for its calories by consuming more foods that take longer to digest. More greens, less grains, and always take the time to prepare your grains the right way.” Melissa Richardson
Not for the Lazy Bread Maker
Who is this book for? Anyone that is interested in learning to bake with natural ingredients will enjoy Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast. Remember, baking with natural yeast requires a commitment on your part. Most recipes require at least 6 hours of preparation. You must take care of your pet and plan ahead when you want to use it. Using natural yeast is not for the lazy bread baker.
I was given a copy of Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast by Melanie Richardson in exchange for this review. These opinions are entirely my own. Even if I had not been given a copy of the book, I would have purchased it anyway, I like it that much. You will too.
Go on out and get baking with healthy natural yeast bread and be sure and find Melissa on her website – The Bread Geek – where you will find more great information to get you started baking with natural yeast.
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