My mom has been baking bread for as long as I can remember. When I was little, she used whole grain wheat flour, but then a family friend started growing spelt on her organic farm, so my mom began buying spelt flour from said friend. That was very hippie then, nobody knew what spelt was and it was impossible to find it in the grocery store. But the bread was now even more delicious, and it came with a fun new feature - no kneading was needed. Kneading was in fact discouraged since the spelt gluten is supposed to be different from wheat gluten: it actually disintegrates or something like that if you knead it too much.
So there it was, wonderful, healthy bread you don't even have to knead. My mom usually tops it with sesame seeds which make it extra delicious in my opinion. Recently she began baking her bread with very little yeast - a slow rise bread.
Slow rise bread trend has been around for a decade or so (it started with Mark Bittman I believe); it seems the web re-discovered slow rise bread even before sourdough bread that seems to be all the rage now, at least where I live (we make our own, too - Michael Pollan made us do it! - and sell it as well). But there's just something wonderfully low-key about slow rise baking that should convince even the laziest baker and all the people who fear that yeasty creature that is bread.
There's no sourdough starter to look after, there's no kneading, there's no multiple proofing, just mix the dough and let time do its job on it.
Slow rise spelt bread4 cups whole grain spelt flour, preferably organic
about 2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sea salt
half teaspoon active dry yeast
rolled oats or sesame seeds (optional)
Prepare the loaf mold or dutch oven: lightly grease it with vegetable oil and dust with flour.
In a big bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated. Stir a little more, just so the dough starts forming: you'll know it is forming when it stops clinging to the bowl and starts forming a sort of a ball. Transfer the dough into prepared loaf mold or dutch oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds or dust with flour and cover with a clean tea towel.
Leave the dough to rise in a warm spot in your kitchen (some people even put it in a plastic container with a lid, which is not a bad idea at all). My mom usually places it on top of her refrigerator. That may last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, depending on the warmth of the environment and quality of your flour. So I suggest you start making the bread in the morning on a day when you're at home and check on the dough after six hours to see if it has risen enough. You'll know it's proofed when, if poked with a wet finger, the dough comes back half way (if the hole doesn't fill at all, the bread is over proofed; if the hole fills back quickly, the bread is not yet ready to be baked). I learned that from my extremely talented and advanced baker friend Natasha, over at My daily sourdough bread (actually, my mother in law tried to explain this method to me some time ago, but I didn't quite get it).
Bake the bread on 350 °F (180 °C) for 1 hour.
So, would you give this super simple bread a try? If you're interested in slow rise breads, this book is an awesome resource.