I've been on this really grand bread making experiment this summer partly because I like a challenge and partly because I just wanted simple bread that wasn't full of sugar and weird chemicals. It seems everyone avoids bread today and mostly for reasons that escape me. In particular sprouted or fermented bread (sourdough) made from whole grains (especially ancient grains) are an excellent source of nutrition. After recently finishing Michael Pollen's book "Cooked" I was further inspired to create my own sourdough starter from scratch and bake some simple breads. Not using yeast or white flour I've been challenged to leaven the bread properly. The flavor has been amazing. And if all else fails I could pound nails with this bread. It's hefty and dense pretty much how I like it.
After some experimenting I've learned to sift the flour (I've been using spelt flour sourced locally) and use a much wetter dough which has helped with my "oven spring" a little. I've also switched to a Dutch oven which has helped. But the learning curve has been challenging. I'm currently visiting my parents in Alberta and they are giving my family bread made in a bread machine with yeast. It's getting ravenously devoured while my wife won't touch my "brick bread." The kid eats it with me. It's a bit like the difference between a Guiness and a Coors Light. One is more universally accepted, but at least in my opinion the heftier beer has all the character and love.
At some point I may relent and use yeast but I'm not done playing. I picked up the newest Tartine book and I'm determined. But the real lesson is that when we demonize food we may want to consider if the food is really at fault or if it's just the mass production. Maybe the real problem with bread today is that we buy inferior flour breads, loaded with sugar and nefarious chemicals. And we refuse to make our own which was a common practice when I was a kid. I can't be sure but my personal suspicion is that our problem with food today isn't a problem with food at all, especially if you refuse to call industrilized packaged food by the name.
"Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much." - Michael Pollan