Sorry celiacs, this dough is not gluten-free and as a wheat-eater I am yet to try making gluten-free bread. However, the same techniques could likely be used substituting tapioca starch/flour for the gluten and any gluten-free flour for the whole wheat.
This bread dough is very versatile. The flax seeds add extra fibre and omega fatty acids, and help with the rise and crumb. This dough can be used to make loaves, baguettes, buns, rolls, pitas, pizza dough, stuffed pockets… and will last unbaked in the fridge in a bag for up to a week. Just pull some out, shape it, bake it, and enjoy.
Once you get the hang of making your own bread, you may never turn back. I usually make it on Sundays, when I have the time, to have fresh bread all week. It is hard to find vegan bread these days (particularly in rural areas): most contain mono and diglycerides—usually sourced from dairy or meat by-products (unless it says ‘vegetable’); whey—a milk protein; milk powder or modified milk ingredients; or a long list of other ingredients you may wish to avoid.
This bread is high in protein and fibre, and is deliciously soft and easy to work with for a whole grain bread without the additives. Kneed some up and use it for whatever you want!
Materials and Methods
You will need:
A large mixing bowl
Something to grease the sheet
A spray bottle with water (preferred), or dish of water with a pastry brush
1 ½ cups hot tap water (about 39°C or the temperature of a hot bath)
1 ½ packages of traditional yeast (or 3⅓ ts)
1 ts. evaporated cane juice or other ‘sugar’ (agave may also work)
½ cup ground flax seeds
¼ cup vital wheat gluten flour
½ ts sea salt
2 tbs. olive, grapeseed, or other oil
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 cups whole wheat flour (read the ingredients, some contain dough conditioner, rising agents and preservatives; it should contain nothing but “100% whole wheat”).
Plus a little extra flour for working with
Optional: seeds (poppy, sesame, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, chia) for topping
In a large bowl dissolve sugar in hot water. Add yeast and let sit until foamy and at least double the volume.
Using a whisk, whip in flax seeds and gluten. It should be like runny pancake batter. Let sit in the bowl covered with a clean tea towel for an hour (or longer), somewhere warm.
The batter will now be thick—at least on top, some of the liquid may have separated, which is fine. Whisk in salt, lemon juice and oil. Then slowly whisk in flour until it gets too stiff to use the whisk. Clean the dough from the whisk and continue adding flour kneeding and mixing with your hands (remove rings, and oil your hands to prevent sticking).
Kneed for about 5 minutes, then recover the dough with a towel and let sit for another hour in a warm place. The longer you wait for any of these rises, the better your bread will be. So be lazy: take a nap, go for a walk, go out with friends…. It will still be there on return. I occasionally even lave it overnight.
Preheat oven to 475°F (246°C) or even a little warmer, bread bakes best HOT.
The dough should have risen. Punch it down and kneed another five minutes. If too sticky, add a little more flour and oil your hands.
Shape the dough into a loaf of your choice. I like to pull and fold, pull and fold (a number of times). When making a loaf or long buns, I press the desired amount of dough into a flat disk, and then roll it up (this adds air and lightness). You can also cut the desired amount of dough into 3 pieces, roll them into thin snakes, and braid them, pinching each end together. I will then press down or squeeze, to shape the loaf into the desired form (if it isn’t already). Be creative with your shapes and try new techniques for forming.
Spray with water and sprinkle with, or roll in, seeds (if using).
Add angled cuts (one way or both or in another pattern) to the dough with a sharp knife. If making buns add a single or cross cut. Don’t cut braided bread. Cuts should be 0.5–1 cm in depth (or deeper for a large loaf, such as if using the entire recipe). These cuts (or ‘scorches’) will help the bread rise to shape. If you don’t scorch the dough, you may end up with very tall spherical buns you can’t get your mouth around, or with strange appendages/growths on the loaf. This is because hot air needs to escape d during baking. The crust will seal air inside, but air will try to leave by the easiest possible route—either through your cuts, or through somewhere less desirable… (photos not shown).
Place formed loaf/buns/whatever on well-greased or -floured pan and allow shaped dough to rise again (about 30 min).
Once risen, place in the hot oven and bake until brown.
Spray with water again in the last 5 min to get a nice crispy crust.
A large loaf will take 30-40 min., whereas small buns will be ready in about 15-20 min.
Allow to cool, preferably on a rack to prevent toughness, before cutting or using, and enjoy! Store the remaining dough in a plastic bag (I use shopping bags) in the fridge with a tie for up a week. The size of a softball is enough to make a 14’’ pizza or two submarine buns. Use the loaf or buns for toast, sandwiches, bruschetta, French toast…. and store remaining dough in a sealed bag in the fridge, for pizza, buns, bagels, or whatever you want.
Note: Sandwich is made with beancurd sheets, whole seed dijon mustard, onions, tomatoes, orange bell peppers, romaine lettuce, and avocado (against the bread).
Pizza is topped with a dairy-free ‘cheddar’ style topping and halved veggie ‘shrimp’; along with eggplant, slivered garlic, sweet corn, red bell peppers, and rich herbed tomato sauce).