- 4 cups whole wheat flour (500 g)
- 2/3 tbsp salt (10 g)
- 1 1/5 cups cold tap water (300 ml)
- 1 1/2 tbsp live yeast (20 g)
- Additional 1/2 cup (100 ml) water
- olive oil
Dissolve the fresh yeast in the water, by rubbing the yeast between your thumb and your forefinger until it's completely dissolved. Add the water to the well. Just add a bit at first to see if the dike holds, and if it does, add the rest. Using the tips of your fingers start amalgamating the inner edges of the flour with the water and upping your tempo keep mixing until it starts forming a thoroughly mixed dough.
Now start kneading the dough, pushing it away from you with the ball of your hand and using your fingers to bring it back towards you. Try to keep a good tempo here and knead for 15 minutes (you can also use a mixer with a dough hook attachment). Add up to 1/2 cup of additional water, making sure the dough is wet but not sloppy. After 15 minutes of kneading, the dough should feel wet and supple (spongy), but not sticky. If you stretch the dough into a ball you shouldn't be able to see cracks on the surface and you should be able to stretch it (this means that the gluten has been activated).
Form a ball with the dough and wrap it in a (clean) warm, damp tea towel. Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes at room temperature. The dough will increase by about 1/3 in volume. Remove the tea towel, pummel the dough with your fists and then form it back into a ball, wrap in the tea towel and again allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.
Grease a bread tin with olive oil. Wet the work surface with some water. Remove the tea towel from the dough and press the dough flat onto the wet work surface. Form the dough into a sausage shape with your hands, so that it is roughly the same length as the bread tin and place into the bread tin. Cover the bread tin with the warm moist tea towel and allow the bread to rise for another 30 minutes until it has increased by 1/3 in volume.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 428 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce temperature to 392 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place the bread in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove the bread from the tin. If you knock on the baked bread it should sound hollow. If it doesn't, return to the oven and bake a little longer. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.
Buy the best, freshly milled whole wheat flour and check that there are no additives: the only ingredient should be the wheat. After all, the whole point of baking your own bread is for it to be pure and wholesome, without all those additives, sugars, fats, bread improvers and other rubbish you'll find in many commercial loaves. If you can't get hold of the real thing, I recommend Graham Flour from Surfas, or Arrowhead Mills Organic Flour and Bob's Red Mill, both from Wholefoods.
It's important to use fresh yeast here. These little cakes of solid yeast can be bought at bakers and health/whole food stores. Always buy fresh, because fresh yeast doesn't store well.