I have been baking whole wheat bread for 30 years or so. In the beginning, one of the things that bothered me about bran muffins and bran added to whole wheat flour was that every recipe I tried was either dry as dog biscuits or loaded with fat to make it edible. So I gave up recipes and figured it out myself.
I started mixing whole wheat flour with the liquid, then letting it sit for a half hour to several hours. This allows wheat flour time to soak up the water and soften. I use less flour and do not end with dry bread. The bread is richer in flavor. I then add all other ingredients and let it have its first rise in the bowl without kneading. I leave it soft and moist at this stage. When it has risen, I turn it out on a well floured board and knead. I form into loaves and let rise again. The bread has finer texture if it rises in the refrigerator. For the most part, my bread is predigesting 12 to 24 hours.
I didn’t invent it after all, because this process has been around for thousands of years. I have a practical bent.
Presoaking starts autolysis, the destruction of the cell using its own enzymes. The amylase and protease formed by soaking begin to break down the carbohydrate and protein, much like the predigestion that begins while chewing. Amylase and protease are also present in saliva and predigest food for continued digestion in the digestive system. This is going back to kindergarten: chew your food thoroughly! Let digestion get a good start.
During this presoak, gluten begins to form without kneading, which improves bread flavor. Kneading forms gluten, but also oxidizes the dough, toughening it and degrading the flavor.
Bread made with a short (30 minutes) or long presoak is easier for your digestive system to handle.
Also note that I purchase non GMO flour, with a normal amount of lectins, unlike GMO wheat with extra lectins spliced in. Grain has always been the “staff of life” and only since GMOs has bread gotten an evil reputation. A friend of mine in Texas and her husband gave up bread because of wheat belly. It cured her wheat belly. She wanted me to give up home baked bread! I suggested she had GMO belly and to try baking with non GMO wheat. Eventually she did.
I buy bulk wheat berries in 25 pound containers. It not only stores for decades, when I grind it fresh, it retains all its nutrient value. I use an electric grinder, but would like a hand grinder in case of emergency. Bread, made from whole non GMO berries, is not an empty calorie food. I frequently add nutricious extras like fruit and nuts.
This is a return to old food processes that decrease problems with wheat and bread digestibily.