Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Drive Thru Sue Sourdough THM:E - Day #1, Mixing Day

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Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!


So, I promised that this recipe would be easy enough for Drive Thru Sue, and it's true.  But, even Sue will need to slow down, and realize that while there is almost no WORK involved, patience is still a virtue.  Sourdough *is sourdough* because it takes time for the yeasts to work.  This recipe is in 2 phases - Mixing day and Baking Day (which can be ANY day, once you've got dough in your fridge!) Don't throw in the towel - you can do it! - but you'll have to ramp up slowly.  First, you need a Wild Yeast Starter. Go to the linked page, and take about 7-10 days of *virtually no work* and create a bubbly wild yeast starter.  If you already have one of those, then you can keep going!

This bread does include olive oil.  However, the 1 Tablespoon is divided among 4 small or 2 medium loaves of bread, and you'll only eat about 3 slices in a serving, keeping the fats down to very low levels.


2 cups wild yeast starter (1/2 the quart jar, give or take a bit is fine)
2 1/2 cups hot tap water (NOT boiling)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 cups White Whole Wheat (King Arthur is my favorite brand, and I'll always shop around until I find a store that carries it)


For Mixing Day:
~14 Cup Tupperware container (for mixing and keeping dough in the fridge)
wooden spoon

For Baking Day:
parchment paper
wooden cutting board (NOT plastic) or a second baking pan
Baking stone (preferable) or flat metal baking pan
serrated knife
some ice cubes
optional: small (3.5 x 6.5) bread pan (not necessary to get started, only for medium loaves)


This first recipe will make 4 small (family can mostly finish in 1-2 meals) or 2 medium loaves.  The link at the top of the page includes instructions for smaller batches and larger loaves if you find you do not eat the bread fast enough to keep up with the starter.


This first set of instructions may seem lengthy, but that's just because of all the explanations.  It's very simple and easy to do, with very little prep or time spent actually working.  You'll need to be home for around 4-5 hours, but you'll hardly touch the dough.  You can totally run to the store and come back, too.  This recipe is very forgiving!

(Please forgive the jumping - my 6 year old was videoing!!)

On Mixing Day:

  1. In your 14C container, place the starter, hot water, salt and olive oil.  Chop at the starter with the whisk, and whisk until blended into the water, just a minute or 2.  Get lots of air and froth into the mixture if you can!  If you end up with slimy strings just ignore them, they are a by-product of the starter.  Future batches will have very little to none of the strings.  They'll bake right up into the bread!
  2. Now add all the flour and stir with the wooden spoon.  It might take a bit of muscle, but the dough should be very wet and stick to your fingers if you try to touch it.  If it seems stiff enough to knead, add more water.  The moisture content of your flour will depend on your local weather, and the water might need adjusted according to the season!  Once you've made a batch or 2, you'll know how the dough should look and can drizzle in extra water if needed.
  3. All of the above should only take about 5 minutes.  If you pinch up a bit of dough, it should stick to your fingers, and break off of the dough easily with no stretch.  It should smell like wet flour, but nothing extraordinary.
  4. Cover with the lid (but leave one corner vented) and rest for 2 hours.  Set the timer on your phone and run to the store, feed the kids, get a bubble bath, etc.  If it accidentally sits 2.5-3 hours, it won't mind.
  5. Now comes the slightly more demanding part.  You'll stick your hand into the container 5 times, 30 minutes apart.  These are the "folds".  We are not kneading - in fact, that would hurt this very-wet dough.  We do need to gently stretch the whole grains to lengthen them into a softer dough, instead of leaving each grain of flour as a course, individual piece.  This folding technique is the part that makes it possible to have 100% whole wheat that is edible and not dense as a rock, AND that doesn't take the time, effort or skill of kneading.
  6. To "fold"
    1. Run your hand down one side of the dough container to the bottom.  Gently grip the bottom of the dough and pull it up, folding the dough over itself to the middle of the top.  It won't be pretty and will probably try to ooze back into it's original place - that's fine.
    2. Rotate the container 90 degrees, and pull up the second side
    3. Repeat with the third and fourth side.
    4. This should take no longer than 30 seconds, and you should notice that the dough is a bit less sticky and is starting to smell like yeast instead of just wet flour.  It will also start to stretch instead of just breaking off like the original batch.  That's the yeast working!!
  7. Congratulations, you've just performed your first fold - the most difficult part of this bread!  Seriously, if you can pull dough from the bottom to the top 4 times, you've mastered the hardest part of this recipe!  You'll need to do 5 "folds", around 30 minutes apart (or 45-60 minutes... again, very forgiving).  Here's a handy schedule you can scribble onto a piece of paper for your first few times and cross off as you go until you can get it into your mind:
  • Mix dough, rest 2 hours
  • Fold #1, Rest 30
  • Fold #2, Rest 30
  • Fold #3, Rest 30
  • Fold #4, Rest 30
  • Fold #5, place in refrigerator, covered with the lid cracked on one side (by this point the dough should be quite plump and stretchy and smell like good, yeasty dough!)

Note on video - I took this video during my very first trial batch of dough, and I've made a few changes since then.  In my final recipe (the one written here), the dough is not quite as wet as this.  It shouldn't stick this badly to your hands.  After the 2 hour resting period the dough should hold together pretty well and fold over nicely, and not be a mushy puddle.  Also, I increased the recipe to make 5 'loaves'  (4 loaves and 1 starter piece) since I found I was needing to mix dough too frequently - I wanted a bigger batch!

Now your first day is done.  If you lost track of time or ran out of time, and only did 4 folds, that's also OK.  Try to stick as closely as possible to the recipe with the timing, but no worries if time got away from you.  The dough MUST rest in the fridge overnight to continue rising, and to allow the yeast time to finish it's work, souring the flour.  Come back tomorrow for baking instructions!

Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Drive Thru Sue Sourdough THM:E - Tips & Tricks

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Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!


If you've come this far, I hope you have eaten a few nice loaves of your own, wonderful homemade sourdough bread!  Isn't is amazing that you can bake bread for just a small amount of time and almost NO real work?!?  I'm still amazed that I can crank out fresh bread in just 2 hours!

This page will list some of the common issues that you will run across when working with sourdough, and also how to change the loaf size, and batch size.

Dough Refrigerator Life:

After your initial refrigeration overnight, you'll have around 3-4 days to make good bread.  One of the downsides to sourdough (which is also it's greatest strength) is that it is a living organism.  The yeast replicates, feeding on the natural sugars and carbs in the flour.  Their by-product is both carbon dioxide and alcohol, which cause the bread to rise.  Eventually, however, the yeast will consume all available carbs and there will be so much CO2 that the yeast will die.

In your refrigerator, you'll notice that the bread will slowly get poofier for about the first 3 days that it is in the fridge.  Day #3 is really your last *perfect* day to bake.  On day 4 it will stall out, and you may see larger bubbles forming through the walls of your container - those are large pockets of CO2.  Your bread wil still turn out OK, but may not rise as high.  You may smell an off-odor.  Not bad, but a tad alcoholic.  By day 5ish, the entire bulk of dough will begin to flatten, lose elasticity, and will pull apart in a similar fashion to the newly mixed dough.  Except this time - instead of needing to stretch more like freshly mixed dough - the dough will be over stretched, the gluten falls apart and will no longer hold together.  As you smooth your dough, you'll find that it breaks and crumbles apart.  Your loaf will flatten instead of rising, as it sits at room temp, and it will not puff at all in the oven - just bake into a flat, dense brick.

The good news is that all of your yeasts are not dead, but the flour is just not strong enough to hold together - all the carbs have been eaten!!  You can still take your starter piece, mix up a new batch of bulk dough, and make bread the following day.

One way to avoid this problem of over-risen dough, is to simply bake your bread earlier.  This bread keeps very well in the fridge once it has been baked.  I've had a loaf in there for a week and longer with no signs of mold or funny smells.  If day #4 comes along and you don't really *need* another loaf, go ahead and bake it anyway (while making dinner, watching TV, etc) and just stick it in a gallon ziplock in the fridge.  You can either mix up another batch of dough right then (if you have time for the folding) or in the next 3-5 days.  It won't last forever without being fed, however, so don't leave it in there for too long.

Making 2 larger loaves:

Nutritional Info for 1/4 of the medium "double" loaf
Another option is to just divide the dough in half (instead of 4 pieces) and bake 2 larger loaves.  I use a medium-sized stoneware loaf pan that is about 3.5 x 6.5.  It's still half the size of a standard loaf of bread, but because of the tall sides it forces the bread to rise *up* instead of spreading *out* as it bakes.  I absolutely LOVE the cute little slices!!I don't waste a big piece on the end because it was thinner and got too dry and hard in the oven.  Also, I only bake bread half as often!  My kids really like my sourdough and ask for it over store-bought bread.  Since this bread is cheaper to make anyway, not to mention healthier, I can give it to them for lunch and still not be baking every single day, if I use the loaf pan.

Notice the nutritional info to the right.  This is for eating 1/4 of the medium loaf, which would be quite a bit along side other items in a meal.  However, it's hard to estimate 'slices' when everyone has their own favorite thickness.  Use this info as an estimate of fat, carbs & protein, depending on how much less than 1/4 loaf you eat in one meal.

To use the loaf pan, I cut a strip of parchment that is the length of the inside of the loaf pan and set my dough to rise in the center.  When I heat the oven, I place the storeware loaf pan in to get hot.  To bake, I lift the parchment and rock it back and forth a few times to help the loaf to get a bit skinnier, then lower it into the hot pan.  The ends will touch the pan and the long ends of the parchment will hang out really far, but both of those things are ok.  Slash the top as best you can.  After baking I use the parchment to lift the loaf out of the pan and onto the cooling rack - save the parchment strip for next time!  It can be reused until it gets so brown that it starts to crumble, which should be at least 4-6 times.

I have not yet tried baking ALL of the dough in a standard loaf pan.  Probably you'd need to heat to 450 (to get the stone good and hot), then reduce to 350 for baking, and bake for 45 minutes or longer.  Let me know if you try it!

Reducing the amount of dough:

If your house has only 1-2 people eating the bread, or not eating it every day, the original amount of dough might just make too much for you.  Below are the amounts to use to make smaller batches of dough.  Always check your dough consistancy and add a tad more water or flour if needed:

4 small loaves + starter piece (original recipe)

3 small loaves + starter piece (uses same amout of oil & salt)
  • starter from previous batch
  • 1T oil
  • 1T salt
  • 2C hot water
  • 4C white whole wheat
  • Cut into 4ths, save 1 for starter and bake 3
2 small loaves + starter piece
  • starter from previous batch
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 C hot water
  • 3C white whole wheat
  • Cut into thirds, save 1 piece, bake 2

Storing Your Starter For A While:

Eventually, everyone needs a vacation.  You might need to just not bake bread for a season, but don't really want to go to the trouble of creating a wild yeast starter again later.  You might really go on vacation and leave your house for several weeks!  As a living organism, the starter can't be completely ignored, but it can be neglected quite seriously for a while.

To put your starter in indefinite standby, you'll want to take around 1/2 C of your bread dough and put it back into the quart jar.  There's no need to feed a huge tub of dough all the time.  Whisk in about 1/4 C of hot water, then use your wooden spoon to add 1/4C whole wheat flour and put it back in the fridge, covered loosely (use the jar lid but leave the band very loose).  You can leave it that way for up to 2 weeks, then add another 1/4 C each of water and flour.   If the jar gets to around half full, throw away all but about 1/2C the next time you feed it.  Repeat forever!  Your yeasts will constantly have new food introduced, but without being allowed to warm up they will stay dormant and won't consume it very fast.  It would be good to bring it out and let it warm up after a month or 6 weeks and let the yeasts really grow and get strong for a while before returning to your 2 week rotation.

If you have to go longer than 2ish weeks you probably can, but it will take longer to bring your starter back to life.  In any case, when you're ready to bake again you'll need to treat your old, tired starter like a wild yeast starter for a while before using it to bake.  Leave it on the counter at all times, feeding it daily.  Leave it near fresh air and it will even attract new yeasts!  Since you already have (hopefully still living) yeasts, it should not take more than a few days to revive the starter and have it bubbly and sour again.

Drive Thru Sue Sourdough THM:E - Day #2, Baking Day

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Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!


On Baking Day:

You can bake a portion of the bread any time in the next 1-4ish days.  There are a few considerations to how long the dough can hold up in the fridge, but I'll get to those in a later post.  For now, here are the basic instructions.

Start 2 hours before you want to have hot, fresh bread, straight out of the oven.

If you have a new batch of dough (already rested overnight) you'll first need to save about 1/5 of the batch as your sourdough starter which will rise your next batch.  That's right - you don't need any more of the wild yeast starter!  Your bread dough will be it's own starter!!  

You don't need to get all particular about cutting the dough - a piece that makes a ball that fits roughly between your 2 hands (about the size of a softball or grapefruit) is around the right size.  Again, this is very forgiving!!  Baseball sized would be a bit small, so make it softball sized and you're fine.  I usually take my starter piece and put it in a sandwich ziplock.  That keeps it from oozing back together with my baking dough, and keeps me from accidentally cooking it.

For the remaining dough, cut it into 4 roughly equal pieces.  You'll find that each of them are also around a softball size, maybe a bit smaller, but that's fine.  Usually I just take a sharp knife and cut the dough into 4 pieces right in the container.  Sometimes I roughly shape each piece into a ball and put them back, sometimes I just peel out the piece I want to bake today and leave the rest, flat and oozed into the bottom.  I don't think it really matters.

Now for the fun, easy, Drive-Thru-Sue baking instructions!

  • For baking today, you'll want to tear off a piece of parchment paper (NOT wax!) and set it on a wooden cutting board, or the back of a baking sheet.  This will make it easy to move to the oven to bake, after it's risen.  You'll nee a piece around 8x8", but the whole width of the roll is fine - no need to trim it smaller.
  • Take one of your 4 pieces of cut dough into your hands.  It will be cold and rather stiff and shouldn't really stick to your hands.
  • As you form your loaf, you don't want to smash and deflate the bubbles, but you do want to form it into a ball or fat log.  The way to do this is to gather the dough into a rough ball, then smooth and stretch the surface of the dough, down towards the bottom.  Pretend that the center of the ball is solid and you're stretching plastic wrap over the whole outside, making it nice and tight.  Stretch and turn, stretch and turn, until the ball is rather smooth-ish and you've gathered something of a knot of extra dough near the bottom.  10-20 seconds is all it will take, once you've got the hang of it.  If you want a longer loaf - instead of turning it evenly as you smooth, just smooth down on 2 sides.  The ends might need folded under at the end to prevent them being too skinny and dry.  
  • Place your dough onto the parchment-lined cutting board, and leave it for an hour.  From pulling your cold dough out to forming and placing on the parchment should take around 1 minute, once you've done it a couple of times and have the feel of it.
  • After an hour, you'll notice that the dough hasn't really risen at all.  It won't even be much warmer.  But believe me, those yeasts are waking up and getting ready for their final big show in the oven.  If you have a flat baking/pizza stone, place it in the center of the oven now and heat the oven to 450.  Set the timer for 30 minutes.  The stone needs to be all the way to 450 AND the dough needs another 30 minutes to rise while it heats. (if you'll be baking on a metal pan, you can wait and add it to the oven about 2 minutes before the dough)
  • After the 30 minute pre-heat, you're ready to bake!  Get about 8 ice cubes ready at the side of your oven.  The ice will melt and release steam when your bread goes in, and for 1-2 minutes after you shut the door.  The steam will keep the crust from drying out immediately and will let the loaf rise higher.  If you're using a metal pan, put it in now for just a couple of minutes.
  • Bring the loaf (on it's cutting board) over to the stove.  Get a serrated knife, and cut about 4-5 slashes diagonally across your loaf, about 1/4 deep.  If you don't slash, the loaf will tear and split any-old-place as it rises, the loaf will look terrible, and might not slice very nicely.  Space your slashes about 1" apart, but don't get too fussy.  
  • As soon as you have slashed, immediately open the oven and slide the parchment & loaf onto the baking sheet.  Toss the ice cubes right onto the floor of your oven, and close the door!
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes, then turn on the oven light!  I still like watching the ice melt and trying to see if I can detect the bread rising!!
  • After 30 minutes, the crust should be a nice light brown.  I usually just grab it with a pot holder and place it on a cooling rack, cutting board or kitchen towel.

Here are the short instructions, for when you don't need too much detail:
  1. Lay parchment on wooden cutting board
  2. Remove dough from fridge, smooth into ball/log, place on parchment, rise 1 hour.
  3. Place stone in oven, heat to 450, while rising 30 minutes.
  4. Get ice, slash loaf, slide into oven, add ice to oven floor, bake 30 minutes
It really is as quick and painless as those short instructions make it sound!  ALL of the 2 hours total is spent doing something else while waiting for the bread to rise or bake.

Bread really does work better if you let is cool - at least a little bit - before slicing.  It's so hot inside
that if you slice it immediately, the very hot moisture in the bread will condense onto the bread's newly cut & cooling end and make it a bit gummy.  Also, all the remaining moisture will rush out into the cool air, leaving the bread drier.  If you can stand to wait, 30 minutes or so would be good.  Or not.  Sometimes it's worth a bit of dampness to eat your first bite of hot-out-of-the-oven bread!

Nutritional Info for 1/4 of the small loaf
Remember that this in an E bread.  If you're having NO OTHER FAT anywhere in your
meal/snack, you can have almost 1 teaspoon butter.  The nutritional info on the right is for 1/4 of the entire loaf!!  You can see that you're only eating 1.3g of fat (E limit = 5g) and 26 carbs (E limit = 45).  You can have a bit of additional fat (a smear of butter or elsewhere in your meal) and a lot more carbs to complete your E meal.  Also, you're starting out with a nice 4.8g of protein.  Not quite enough for an entire meal, so be sure to add some more!

Since I'm still partial to fluffy store-bought bread, I'm not the biggest fan of this bread as a sandwich.  Even when I made enriched 50/50 bread, I still never liked 2 slices in one bite - just too much bread to chew!  My favorite ways to eat this bread are:
  • toasted (or not) with Peanut Butter Junkie (and banana!)
  • toasted with a Laughing Cow Light wedge (1 wedge will thickly cover 2-3 pieces of bread)
  • toasted (or not) with light mayo, mustard & lunch meat - like a sandwich but with only a bottom piece of bread
  • toasted with no toppings, dipped in E soup
As you can see, this bread is nice toasted.  Toasting crisps up the crust and also lightens the interior of the bread very nicely.

Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!

Drive Thru Sue Sourdough THM:E - Sourdough, The Process

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Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!


Sourdough in a Medium Bread Pan

I know what you're thinking.  "What?  Can it be possible?  I thought sourdough was a long, time consuming process, with long rises, and special techniques?  Don't you have to be an artisan bread baker to achieve sourdough?  Drive Thru Sue does NOT have time to knead bread, no matter how easy..."

Believe me when I tell you that Sourdough bread IS possible, for Drive Thru Sues, busy moms, and people who don't want to take the time to learn traditional bread baking techniques.

I've been an amateur bread baker for many years now.  The definition of an amateur is someone who loves - but does not get paid - for their habit hobby.  Long before Trim Healthy Mama came my way, I was studying Peter Reinhart, keeping a bread journal, and measuring my ingredients by the gram.  THE GRAM.  7 grams of salt, 19 grams of yeast, 257 grams of whole wheat flour...  Of course all the while I was having babies, moving to new cities, and having a grand old life.  The bread baking would take a back seat for a year or more at a time (judging by the dates in my bread journal) but I always came back to baking, usually in the fall.  I have something of an OCD personality, and I have always been driven to discover the *perfect* techniques, and work until I could execute them flawlessly.  I take great pride in achieving great culinary arts - cooking has also been a passion of mine since I was about 15.

During one of my 'baking seasons' a friend of mine (with 5 kids under age 5 including triplet 2 year olds!) told me about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Or it might have been the sequel, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I can't remember which it was now.  In any case, I distinctly remember being rather sour about the whole thing.  I'd already put years into perfecting my centuries-old techniques.  I supposed that maybe a crazy-busy mom of 5 *might* need something faster, but really - 10 minutes to weigh and measure, 10 minutes to knead, 12 hours to rest, 15 minutes kneading in the Kitchen Aid the next day (I didn't even do it all by hand, only the finishing touches!), rising in a steam box with hourly steam changes and 2 different temperature settings on the stove - all to achieve perfect texture, mouth feel, density and crumb - were not all that difficult or time consuming.   I'd have no *easy answer* bread in my kitchen, thank you very much.

Fast forward a few years.  My passion came and went, and bread baking took a back seat again.  My 2 girls are now in 1st and 3rd grade, and I'm homeschooling.  Since that's not enough, I'm also directing our local homeschooling community of Classical Conversations.  I started THM several months ago, and while I haven't lost much weight yet, I know it's due to my own negligence and lack of self discipline.  I enjoy all the recipes in the cookbook, and have only made a couple that my family doesn't want again.  Almost everything in there is really, really good!  I read the breads chapter, and it piqued my interest in wild yeast starters again - of course, I'd already played with that several years ago.  I pulled out my bread journal and refreshed my memory about sourdough.

I had played quite a bit with whole grains, and had worked out a perfect loaf without any white flour at all, although it still contained fats and sugars.  The Peter Reinhart method had the grains soaking overnight to sour nicely, before mixing the final loaf with other ingredients, including more yeast.  But, it seemed that I'd never tried to make sourdough without any *extra* yeast.  Historically, there wasn't anything BUT true sourdough - powdered bakers yeast is a very new invention.  But I never tried it.  I detected a challenge!

By now, I have settled down in my ambitions, and I realize that I don't have time to cultivate my bread perfection like I did when the kids were still sleeping 14-16 hours a day.  I needed fast and easy homemade bread, or I knew I would put it on the back burner again.  I should probably visit with my long-time friend and apologize for any coolness she felt from me on that fateful day, years ago, when I couldn't figure out *what* she was doing with ALL that spare time...

My first move was to alter my recipes to use a bread machine.  They're fairly cheap to buy new and also available in any thrift store.  Lots of people get them for Christmas, use them twice, then they collect dust until you're tired of wiping them down and donate them to the Goodwill.  I found a high quality digital one (with 10 settings!) for $20, and brought it home.  I reduced my original quantities to fit my machine, switched to sprouted flour, played with the dough setting, baked longer and shorter, rested more and less, and after several weeks I had still not come up with a loaf that was even edible - let alone delicious.  Sprouted flour is expensive, too, and it didn't really save me much over just buying on-plan bread, especially considering all the work.  I went back to my shelf to grab Reinhart's book and read through his techniques again, when I spotted Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I had purchased it during one of my non-serious phases of bread baking, and it had worked out alright.  That's when the lightbulb went off.

The premise of the 5 Minutes a Day books is that you can mix up a big batch of dough, then pull out a chunk whenever you want bread.  The long refrigerated times not only make dough instantly available, but also allowed bread to be made without ANY kneading.  The dough can have a lot more water in it, since you'll be handling it cold and stiff, so the bread can rise more in the oven and be softer.  The reason they need 2 whole cookbooks is that you can take the basic idea, use different ingredients, and get many types of bread - soft sandwich bread, sweet breakfast breads, rolls, etc.  The first book used mostly white flour, and the "Healthy" edition used mostly whole grains.  I already knew that sourdough bread began as a yeast 'starter', which you keep alive in the fridge between uses.  You mix some starter with your flour and other ingredients, then the dough has to ferment slowly - typically 7-10 hours - to allow the wild yeast to rise your new loaf, and then you bake it.  The bulk-dough idea is absolutely perfect for combining the ease of the 5 Minutes a Day technique with traditional sourdough bread.

There were still a few hurdles to overcome.  100% whole wheat loaves tend to be heavy and dense.  Even the "Healthy" 5 minutes a day book only has 1 recipe that is 100% whole wheat.  All the rest are around 50/50 with white flour, to improve the texture.  Many of their recipes also used sugar or honey, butter and milk, so soften the texture and improve the rise.  These are all time-tested techniques to improve the flavor and texture of whole wheat breads!  Unfortunately, they aren't THM approved.

I started researching other methods of softening whole grain loaves, and found myself at The Fresh Loaf, one of my favorite bread forums, dedicated to amateur bread bakers and both traditional and newer techniques.  I read a fascinating article there about a baker who was trying to improve his dough by making it as wet as possible (sound familiar?) and then NOT KNEADING IT (familiar again!) because it was too wet to knead anyway.  He did just a few folds, then let the dough rest at room temp.  I had found my *perfect* technique, and it worked brilliantly.

What you see on the next page has been tested and eaten in my house for almost 3 months now.  My kids beg me to let them eat "Mommy's diet bread"... (I can't get them to just call it sourdough!)  I've kept it going since I started the very first batch, and have not needed to find or eat any store bought bread for THM.  I've discovered that the '5-Minute' technique - combined with the quick and easy folds from The Fresh Loaf - are a very forgiving combination, and stand up very well to partial neglect.

Without further ado, I present:

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Wild Yeast Starter THM:E

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Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!


If you are interested in baking Sourdough Bread, you'll need to start with a Wild Yeast Starter.  Modern powdered yeast grows, rises and dies very quickly to give a loaf of bread in just a few hours, but it dies so quickly that it cannot sustain the long rising of sourdough.  Plus, there is evidence that wild yeasts are perfectly suited to altering flour to be more useful to our bodies, in a way that manufactured yeasts do not.  This article does a good job of explaining the differences between commercial yeast and wild yeast, and also about the lower GI effect of sourdough, which is why THMers can eat sourdough bread.

The THM cookbook has a recipe for starting wild yeast, but the proportions are really huge.  You don't have to make that much!!  I'll list an easy wild yeast starter here, and in 10 days or less you should have a nice, sour, bubbly starter.

Wild Yeast Starter


Whole Wheat Flour

quart canning jar
wooden spoon
loose-weave cloth (birds-eye weave cloth diaper, or very thin tea towel)
rubber band


  1. Mix about 1/2 C whole wheat flour and 1/2C tap water in the jar, with the wooden spoon.  I used my regular city water with no problem, but if your water is extra chlorinated (of if this first run doesn't work) considering buying a jug of spring water.  Once your starter is healthy, regular tap water is fine for making the bread.
  2. Cover the jar with the towel & secure with the rubber band, to keep insects and dust out.
  3. Ideally, you'll place the jar outdoors for 12-24 hours.  As long as the temps are above 50 degrees or so, this should work fine.  If it's below 50, rest your jar in the house in a high traffic area with as much fresh air as possible - like the end of your kitchen counter near the entry door.  We are trying to capture the wild yeasts that are in the air outside.  There are some yeasts in your house as well, but you'll get many different strains from outside which will rise better than just a few kinds.
Now you repeat the same procedure for as many days as it takes to get a bubbly, sour/beer smelling starter!  Every day, add about 1/4C each of whole wheat and water.  Stir well, cover and rest.

When the jar gets about 1/2 full, throw about half of it away, wash the jar and replace the remaining starter, and keep adding flour and water every day.  You can add flour/water morning and evening, or just once a day.  Either way should be plenty to feed to baby yeasties.

I was planning on 7-10 days for mine to grow, but my starter completely surprised me by going from, "look, I think that might be a bubble!" on day 2, to "Ok, the jar overflowed" on day 5!!  Different regions of the world will have different yeasts with different growth habits, strength, and even flavors.  Be patient!

If you've been at it for 10+ days with absolutely NO signs of life, you'd better start over.

That's it!!  If y ou try a time or 2 with no luck, get pure water.  Also, if you've been using ancient flour from the back of your cupboard, a nice fresh sack is in order.  The ground wheat will have some of it's own yeasts from when it was milled and those will start to grow first.  Old flour has a flat and rather old taste in bread anyway, and you'll want fresh flour for baking your bread. (6 months old is fine, just don't use that *one bag* that you bought for a Thanksgiving recipe 3 years ago)

Monday, 17 October 2016

Pumpkin Spice Scones THM:E

These scones were inspired by a cheat-day!  I took my youngest daughter to Starbucks for a Sunday morning breakfast date, and I split one of their divine pumpkin scones with her.  I immediately wanted to go home and try to make a version that I could eat for the entire fall season.  To my delight, my first try was a success!

I wanted to make these an "E" meal.  Baking blend has a lot of very good uses, and allows us to slather butter on 'breads' and still enjoy them.  However, BB is not just like flour, and I really miss sweets with a real-bread taste and texture.

There are 2 ways to eat real flour on THM - using whole wheat to make sourdough, or using sprouted flour.  I am in the process of creating a full-sourdough bread recipe that is easy and fast enough for any Drive-Thru-Sue.  I've been eating the bread from this experiment for several months now, and if I could take the time to write it up, it would be done!

This pumpkin scone recipe uses sprouted flour.  Sprouted flour tends to be quite expensive (which is why I don't want to use it to bake my regular loaves of bread) but I buy a bag and keep it in my pantry for when I want to make a quick bread out of real flour, but still stay on plan.

There are a couple of blockers to making THM scones.   First, traditional scones are loaded with butter, which shouldn't be eaten along with carbs.  Second they are typically made with white flour, which is a definite NO-NO.

Reducing the butter to less than 1 teaspoon per serving was the first step.  Replacing the white flour with sprouted was the second.  But, I was afraid I would be left with a flavorless chunk of whole grain mess.  I needed lots of flavor, and something to lighten the whole-grain texture without adding fat.  Beaten egg whites solved that problem!

So, the upshot is that these scones take a bit more work than the regular kind, but each step contributes to a lighter and fluffier texture than you would expect from a whole-wheat scone with almost no fat.  These are moist and spicy and definitely do NOT taste like a diet food.  They are light and flavorful enough that I really didn't miss the butter - especially along with a cup of hot coffee or a trimmy light!

Pumpkin Spice Scones THM:E

Click Here for a printable recipe!

This recipe gives less than 1t butter and around 1/4t molasses per scone!
Makes 12


1C canned pumpkin (or cooked/mashed - butternut is good if you're making fresh)
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
2t vanilla

2C whole wheat sprouted flour
6 Tablespoons Super Sweet, Erithritol/Xylitol, Pyure, etc
1 Tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon pink salt
2 teaspoons ginger (these were fairly spicy, use just 1t if you're not sure)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

3 Tablespoons cold butter
4 egg whites - use fresh, not carton


  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.  Set aside
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients, then cut in the 3T cold butter.  I suggest using a food processor for the dry ingredients & butter, but a medium bowl & pastry blender could also be used.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl (all ingredients will be mixed in here eventually) beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Lighten the pumpkin mixture by stirring about 1C of egg whites into it.  Then pour the pumpkin/whites back into the stiff whites and fold gently, about 10 turns - there will still be large white streaks.
  6. Pour the flour mixture into the whites all at once and fold gently just until moistened - do not over-mix!!
  7. Use a 1/4C measuring cup to scoop out scones.  Flatten the scoop with the back of a rubber spatula, then plop onto a baking stone or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Do not spread them out - allow them to be as tall as possible.  
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.  Cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a baking rack to cool.
  9. Makes 12-13 scones.
Enjoy warm or cooled with coffee for breakfast, with a trimmy light for a snack, or after dinner!

This recipe should be easy to change for different flavors.  
  • Try replacing 1/2C of the flour with 1/2 C rolled oats, reduce spices to cinnamon & nutmeg only, and stir in some chopped fresh cranberries and orange zest.
  • Stir in oats & finely chopped apple
  • As you can see in the photo above, I made a glaze with powdered sweetener (blender), vanilla & water, but the sweetener stayed crunchy and the scones didn't really need it.  We liked them better plain.  Try your own version if you like!