The Art of Healthy Bread Making

Okay, I’ve been having fun with this whole bread making thing – you were right Dr. N.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and nuts made with whole grain starter dough. Yummy and healthy!

But in keeping with me – I’ve already been playing around with the recipe. I took the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and changed it to a whole wheat version, and this morning I adapted the sticky bun recipe to make a cinnamon, raisin (because everything is better with raisins) and pecan loaf. Here’s what I did.

I used about 1 1/2 lb, or a cantaloupe size of the Master Recipe (see below), floured it enough to stretch the four sides to tuck into a ball (this is a misnomer, as whole wheat dough without added gluten won’t stretch)

I then placed it on a well-floured board (I put some whole wheat flour in my coffee grinder to make it softer) then rolled out the dough (flour the top) to 1/8″ thick.

Next, I lightly misted the top of dough with a butter substitute (Its what I had, but you can use olive oil). Then I sprinkled the top with a mixture of: 1 heaping tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 cup splenda (sorry Clint is diabetic and can’t use any other type natural sweetener and “natural sugar in the raw is still processed). I added about 1/4 or more cup raisins and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. (I toasted them in a small skillet on the stove top)

Starting on short side, I rolled up the loaf, replacing any lost nuts or raisins – didn’t want to lose even one! Finally, pinch the ends shut and slash the top.

Here is what the rolled up loaf looks like; sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the pre-rolled, cinnamon, raisin and nut covered dough. Oh, by the way, I got my pizza peel on sale at the outlet mall in OKC on sale for $6.40 – They had extra large wooden peels for under $10 as well. I didn’t need one that big, so I opted for the BBQ variety, which is smaller and lighter. The only problem is that the holes make it hard to get any cornmeal on it. I guess I could sprinkle some on the stone right before I put the loaf in the oven or try it without the cornmeal at all.

Move loaf to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let set or rise for 60 minutes. The book said you can also use parchment paper; I haven’t done this yet, because the stuff is expensive and not exactly eco-friendly. But seeing how the cornmeal is ruining my stone and smells horrible when it burns, I may give it a try next time.

Twenty minutes BEFORE bread is ready, preheat oven with a pizza stone and an empty broiler pan at 425-450 degrees (I started with 425 as my oven burnt my last loaf at 450). Put the broiler or a sided baking sheet below the rack with the stone on it. Even if your oven is not completely pre-heated (for those with dinosaurs), slide the loaf from the pizza peel to the stone, and immediately add one cup of hot water to roasting pan – close door quickly, trapping steam. Cook for 25-30 minutes; adjusting for your oven. (I actually took this loaf out at 23 minutes)

Fresh out of the oven! (and yes, I do realize that I forgot to slash the top of the dough; I’m not sure what that part is for, but it still turned out well.)

Let cool and enjoy.

From: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertberg & Zoe Francois

Master Recipe – makes 4 1-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (just above body temp)

1 1/2 Tbs granulated yeast (2 packets)

1 1/2 Tbs kosher or other coarse salt

6 1/2 Tbs whole grain wheat flour

Add 2 tsp vital wheat gluten + 1 1/4 tsp water per cup of flour (my first batch I left out this step and it turned out dense but good but I did add extra water)

Add yeast and salt to warm water in 5 quart bowl with a resealable lidd (not airtight). Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

Mix in all flour at once – kneading is not necessary. Be sure to measure with dry measure cup; gently scoop up flour, then sweep the top level with the back of a butter knife. Do not tamp or shake down so as not to throw off recipe. Mix with wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform. If the mixing becomes too difficult, mix with wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead!

Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow mixture to rise at room temp until it begins to collapse or flatten on top. You may not notice this using whole wheat flour, but approximately 2 hours, depending on room temp. Longer rising time up to 5 hours will not harm the results. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, but fully refrigerated wet dough is easier to handle and less sticky. It is best if stored in the refrigerator over night or at least 3 hours.

Baking Day

Sprinkle the surface of refrigerated dough lightly with flour (I used WW flour that I re-ground in my coffee grinder). Pull off a 1 lb. piece of dough (size of a grapefruit). If needed, you can cut it free with a serrated knife. Hold dough in hand and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to hands. (Sorry, with WW dough, it will stick). Pull or stretch four corners and tuck under to form a ball. The final product should be smooth and cohesive. (WW is not that smooth.) Transfer loaf to a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal.

This is how slashed dough should look. You can also use parchment paper instead of cornmeal. I will try this next time to keep from having burnt cornmeal smell in the kitchen. (photo from

Dust and slash. Dust the top liberally with flour and slash a 1/4 inch deep cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top using a serrated knife.

Let rest for 40 minutes.

20 minutes before baking, preheat oven at 450 (I burnt my first loaf so lowered to 425), with a pizza stone and empty broiler pan under the rack with the stone.

When timer goes off, transfer loaf from pizza peel to stone and immediately pour 1 cup of hot water in broiler pan. Shut door and cook for 30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. The cornmeal will burn, so try not to open door too soon or steam will escape.

When you remove bread from oven it will audibly crackle, or “sing”. (mine didn’t do this as I cooked it too long.

typical artisan bread, from – this one was made with white flour

It says to let cool completely on wire rack, but I was in a hurry the first time and cut it about 5 minutes out of the oven and it was good.

The remaining dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to 14 days. The older it gets, the more of a sour dough quality it will gain. When depleted, don’t wash the container and remix the next batch. The container will retain the “sour dough” quality as a starter for the next batch.

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