This recipe, adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (St. Martin's Press 2009) calls for whole wheat, but I love the nutty depth of spelt. And it's so easy that I promise you will never buy bread again.
Makes two, 2-pound loaves
7 cups spelt or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup vital gluten*
3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup olive oil
*Vital gluten is wheat protein that adds texture and elasticity to bread. Available in natural food stores and online.
Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt and gluten in a large bowl, or a lidded (but not airtight) container.
Add the liquid ingredients and mix without kneading, using a spoon. Use your hands to combine the last bits of flour and liquid.
Cover (again, not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (it will be flat on top), about 2 hours.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, or it can be refrigerated in a lidded (but — you guessed it — not airtight) container and used over the next 7 days.
If using right away, spray a 2-pound loaf pan with cooking spray. Gather half the dough from the bowl and quickly shape it into a log. Place in the loaf pan, cover with a clean dishtowel, and set aside to rise, 90 minutes. (If using refrigerated dough, let rise 2 to 3 hours, until it is loose and slightly inflated.)
After the rise, bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.