Adventures in Sprouting: Wheat Bread

Let’s talk sprouted grain bread. I’d heard of it before, known some of the benefits, but never bothered to try it out until beginning a diet in January which restricts our wheat intake to sprouted grain bread. Since things were crazy the first couple weeks just getting the hang of the diet, we used Ezekiel bread from the store. Which was fine, but, like many presliced store breads, rather dry and lackluster. By the end of the second week, I was going crazy with desire to BAKE. People. I have to bake. It’s a creative outlet. It’s a love language. Truly. I had found this method for making sprouted wheat bread which seemed simple enough, so I had Stephen bring in one of our 45lb buckets of my grandparents’ Y2K wheat, and once he was off to work in the morning, I opened it. I decided to play Fun Mom and open it with the kids there, and of course they loved it. If you’ve never stuck your hands into beautiful red spring wheat grains, you should someday soon. Plus the smell evoked so many memories for me; some of my earliest memories are from the wheat farms of Eastern Washington, and I’m pretty sure I’ve visited the grain elevator where this wheat was processed in Connell, WA. Anyway. I measured a cup of wheat into each of six 3-cup jars, filled them with water, and covered them with a towel. (Now I soak them in a big bowl, and don’t bother hiding them from light with a towel. I use a big heavy duty colander to rinse and drain them, although I have to be sure to stir them up, because that little bit of water that settles in the bottom can cause them to ferment (not a bad thing most of the time, but not what I typically aim for), especially with a smaller grain like einkorn). That night I drained and rinsed them, and rinsed and drained them again morning and evening the next two days. I had a hard time discerning what the term “tender” meant as regarded wheat. After about 60 (I think?) hours (remember, it’s winter in the Midwest, and I had the jars against one of our outer walls), the inside of the grain seemed squishy enough to warrant the term tender (although the shell still seemed somewhat toughish), and the sprouts were actually showing.

2018-01-24 09.24.22I was ready to roll, except I wasn’t going to have time until Saturday, so I did as the author suggests and stuck them in the fridge to await a free morning. When I started rinsing, drying, and grinding, though, my heart sank. The sprouts were very sticky, and from the author’s description, this was the recipe for disaster in the form of dense, brickish bread.

2018-01-24 10.30.36But, on the plus side, my little baby KitchenAid food chopper was handling half a jar at a time like a champ. So on I went, making a couple of adjustments to the recipe, and hoping.

2018-01-24 09.42.05And guess what? Those loaves rose gloriously. And once in the oven, they filled our home with such a heavenly scent I could scarcely believe it. I’m not sure if it was just because I hadn’t baked in forever or what. Maria said it smelled like chocolate cake. I checked them at 45 minutes, and they were darker than in the pictures with the recipe, so I took them out, sawed one out of its pan (thank you, wet sticky dough), and sliced it in half.

2018-01-24 15.56.24Done through! And boy, was it tasty! The texture was rich and nutty and the flavor that wheaten bliss that I’d been craving. Again, we hadn’t had normal homemade bread in a while, so perhaps that enhanced the relish with which we have consumed it, but boy. Definitely worth trying it at least once. The second time I made it, I oiled the bottom of the loaf as well as greasing the pan, and it came out more easily. The third time, I only used half the honey, and it still turned out well, although I do love the flavor with more honey. Here’s my take on the recipe, which I’ve been making once or twice weekly. It’s a lot of time and effort, but so delicious.

IMG_6303

Edited to add: now that it’s summer, my sprouts are sprouting faster and farther, even to the point of no longer being sticky, which does change the texture of the bread crumb (makes it fluffier), but it still does not create a dense bread that won’t rise, as warned by the author of the original recipe. In my personal experience, the only time that the bread ends up like a brick has been when I’ve left it to rise for too long. Especially bearing in mind that my recipe calls for more yeast, the rise needs to be closely monitored.

Sprouted Wheat Bread

6 cups wheat, sprouted (12-14 cups of sprouts, approx)

1/4 cup warm water

1 Tbsp yeast

4 tsp salt

2-4 Tbsp honey
Process each batch of grain (you will want to only fill your food processor about halfway full) until it starts to come together in a lump. Dump into a KitchenAid mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast in honey, water, and salt, and add. Mix with the dough hook on 2 (or knead as in machine’s instructions) until it starts to come together like normal bread dough and a little bit after, about 15 minutes.  [When I’ve used einkorn, it stays like a thick batter, and I have to dump it into the pans without shaping it, but it still turns out fine].

2018-01-24 11.02.39Let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour, until nearly doubled.

2018-01-24 13.03.04Shape and rub bottom and sides with oil and place in greased loaf pans.

2018-01-24 13.08.03Let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour (if it rises too long, it will settle and flatten on top)

2018-01-24 15.00.40and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool five minutes in pan before running a serrated knife around the edge to loosen. Pull out of pans and finish cooling on cooling rack.

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