Bread

Low-sodium bread, slightly revised

Low-sodium bread

I’ve wanted to post a pizza recipe for a while and I have some notes and photos with a dough enriched with grains but I’m not happy enough with it yet. While I’ve been perfecting the pizza recipe, I’ve also been perfecting the dough and loaves. Since posting my first bread recipe, I’ve tried to make the process a little less haphazard and to measure things out more carefully. I’ve also decided to try making the dough using only all purpose flour and, to my surprise, the dough behaved differently enough after the chilling period to warrant its own post. It is much stickier and much harder to work with than the light whole wheat dough. The directions here take this into account.

Also, I finally overcame my brutish ways and started to use parchment paper rather than plopping the dough from a cutting board into my palm then into the preheated pot. I cut the parchment paper to fit on the bottom of the cast iron pot uncrinkled. It helps to trace the bottom of the pot on parchment paper before cutting it. I let the dough rest on the parchment paper and then transfer the dough, parchment paper and all, into the pan once it is preheated. I have a 9-inch cast iron dutch oven with lid and the diameter of the parchment paper is around 6.25″. If you’re also using a small pot like mine but want to use a whole one pound of dough for the loaf, you might want to append two tabs to the parchment paper circle to help you lift the rested dough into the pot better.

I think that I tend to overbake my bread because I like the crust to be very crispy. If you’re not a crisp-fanatic like me, check out the notes about timing in the tips section.

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Bread

Low-sodium light whole wheat bread

Low-sodium light whole wheat bread

When you make the change to a low-sodium diet, one of the first things that may surprise you is the amount of salt used to make bread. It doesn’t taste salty, but the reason the amount of sodium on nutritional labels is so high is because a fairly large amount of salt is important to the rising process when using most methods of breadmaking. I’ve had very little luck by just reducing the amount of salt called for in most breadmaking recipes when I first started (trying) to make bread. After many failed attempts, I stumbled upon a no-knead recipe that does not require salt at all for the rising process. Not only that, but it’s super easy to make. No kneading or punching or poking or any other of the things you need to worry about if you’ve ever tried to make bread using traditional methods.

If you’ve never tried to make bread, you totally should! If all goes well, you’ll end up with a bread with a very crispy crust that’s much nicer than any bread you can buy in a bag from a grocery store. There’s very little effort involved on your part and I think that your chances of succeeding on your first try are pretty high. However, things can go wrong at the different stages which could lead you to baking a less than perfect bread. With all types of breadmaking, I think it’s fair to accept that you might not get it right on your first try. But don’t worry too much, because even if you don’t get a good loaf, you’ll still be able to use the remaining dough to make pizza or other bread-y things that are less fussy than bread.

The dough recipe makes a large batch which yields four small loaves of bread. You can easily halve this recipe on your first try. To make your life easier, make the dough a day before you want to bake the bread. On baking day, it’ll take about three and a half hours before you’ll be able to have your first bite.

Update: Find a revised version of bread-making in this post from Dec. 4th, 2014.

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