Albert Kumin is a Great and Venerable Chef with decades of accomplishments in the world of baking and pastry, not the least of which being that he served as White House pastry chef in the 1970s. His skills are as legendary as his unending generosity. I am happily a sapling in the shadow of this grand tree. I learned this unusual bread-making technique from him in the 1980s, and although I evolved it over the years, the germ method is entirely his. Growing up in the mountains of Switzerland, commercial yeast was either unavailable or too expensive, so the inhabitants of the mountain villages used what they had on hand to leaven their bread. In Chef Kumin’s case, raisins were used. The raisins soaked in water for several days, releasing their latent yeasts, and the water in which they soaked was then used to prepare one or two builds prior to making the final dough. All the leavening in the bread comes from the raisin water. What I have always found most extraordinary is that, of all the naturally leavened breads I have ever eaten, this is the only one that is characterized by having a complete absence of acidity, coupled with extraordinary leavening potential. More than two decades after first making this bread, some of the mysteries were explained: microbiologist and baker Debbie Wink did some sleuthing in the world of deep science and discovered that after about five days, yeast populations are at a peak, and this occurs at the same time that the lactic acid bacteria are at a low point. Other than voilà, what else needs to be said? The bread is quite easy to prepare, and supports numerous variations, such as omitting the walnuts and raisins, adding other fruits and nuts, increasing the whole-wheat portion, and so on. Bakers with an avid curiosity will hopefully try out this method. Not only will you have delicious bread to enjoy, you will also expand your level of skill and accomplishment as you explore some of the less-traveled byways of baking.