Eleni’s Sourdough Bread
I learned this recipe from Eleni, an energetic, fast-talking 70-something-year-old with strong arms and a youthful face. As she was beating and kneading the dough, I could see that her exercise routine and level of fitness didn’t come from spending hours in the gym.
Like Sardinia’s sourdough bread, Ikaria’s signature loaf harnesses the digestive power of wild yeast to break up simple sugars, eliminate much gluten, and produce a bread that will make your entire meal healthier. Studies show that true sourdough bread actually lowers the glycemic load of a meal, which is to say it slows the absorption of sugars into the blood. More importantly, this bread tastes delicious, so you’ll want to eat it every day.
2 cups sourdough starter,* store-bought or homemade
1 cup room temperature water
3 1⁄3 cups (1 pound) whole wheat flour
2 3⁄4 cups (1 pound) semolina flour
Pinch of salt and pepper
Sesame seeds (optional)
In a very large bowl, mix starter and water together.
In another bowl, combine flours with salt and pepper.
Add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, to the water mixture, and stir thoroughly with each addition.
Use your hands and continue to add flour until well combined.
Knead the dough for at least 20 minutes.
Plop dough into a low, round 20-inch pan and cover with olive oil; top with sesame seeds, if using.
Cut a small cross in the middle of the dough; then cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 degrees, then 20 minutes at 200 degrees, and another 20 minutes at 180 agrees. This makes for a perfect loaf inside and out.
*Baking with a sourdough starter (or wild yeast, a mixture of flour and water that’s fermented) captures beneficial lactic acid bacteria and results in a healthier, tastier bread than if you were to use pre-made yeasts. The easiest way to make sourdough is to ask another baker for some starter. If that’s not possible, make your own:
In a large glass jar with a lot of room, mix together 2 cups whole-wheat flour and 11⁄2 cups water until it forms a thick liquid.
Cover with cheesecloth or a paper towel and secure; keep on your kitchen counter away from direct sun- light.
After 2 days, the starter will begin to rise and air bubbles will appear.
Scoop out three-quarters of the mixture and throw away.
Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1⁄2 cup water to the remaining mixture.
Cover again and set for 24 hours.
Some foam will develop at the top when the starter is active and ready.
Store it in the refrigerator.
You should feed your culture once a week if it’s refrigerated by adding 1 cup flour and 1⁄2 cup water.
Mix and let sit for an hour or two at room temperature before refrigerating again.
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