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Friday, June 13, 2014

Recipe: 100% Sprouted Wheat Bread:Fanatic Cook

"Soak the grain.
Sprout the grain.
Grind the grain.
Bake the grain.
Condition the loaf.

The bread is flourless and has no yeast, no dairy, no eggs, no oil or fat, no sweetener. It is only sprouted grain and salt.

Here are the steps in detail:

1. Soak the grain.
Rinse 2 cups of grain. I use organic hard red wheat berries. Lately I've replaced 1/4 of the wheat with barley (it's called "hulled", not pearled). The barley gives a moister consistency and more of a caramelly or malty flavor. But it's not necessary.
Place grain in a large bowl, large enough for the grain to double in size. Cover the grain with water. Let grain soak under water for 8 or 9 hours.

2. Sprout the grain.
At the end of the 8-hour soak, strain the grain and return it to the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a wet towel. Cover the towel with a sheet of plastic wrap.
Place bowl in an undisturbed place away from direct heat.
Sprout for about 36 hours. Rinse the grain once or twice during the course of sprouting to prevent it from drying out. Do this by filling the bowl with water, straining it, and returning it to the (rinsed) bowl.
Sprouting times will vary based on how hot the room is. It is better to undersprout than oversprout. If the sprouts get too hairy or start to turn green, your loaf will be edible but mushy.

The sprouts at 36 hours. They're just starting to turn green. These are on the cusp of being oversprouted, but they made a good loaf anyway.

3. Grind the grain.
First, place a covered dutch oven or other heavy covered pot into a 270 degree F oven to preheat.
Grinding is the most labor-intensive part of the job. I sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over the sprouts, mix it in, then feed it all through a food grinder.
I've tried a blender and a food processor. I'd go back to the blender if I didn't have this food grinder attachment on my mixer. The food processor left a lot of intact grain stuck to the sides. You can buy a hand-cranked food grinder that might also do the job. Whatever you employ, use a light touch. You only have to crack open the grains, not whiz it to a mash.
After the grain is ground it will be very sticky. Add about 3 tablespoons of water to the mash* and do your best to knead it, about 20 times, just to consolidate it and form it into a cohesive shape. Kneading to develop gluten structure is not necessary with this type of bread.
Place the shaped loaf onto a piece of parchment paper.

* This is very variable. It takes feel. Very sprouted grain will require little to no added water, less sprouted grain will require more. If you rinsed it a lot while sprouting, the residual water on the grain will be enough. I'm sorry I can't be more precise. It's a living thing!

The bread will flatten as it bakes. If it's too wet it will look like a pancake no matter how you shape it. Don't shape it too high or it will develop deep fissures as it flattens in the oven.

5. Condition the loaf.
Place the cooled loaf into a plastic bag and put into the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days - at least!
It was not understanding the importance of this last step that had me throwing out so many loaves in the beginning. The bread, after it cools, will be very hard on the outside and very wet on the inside. Conditioning it in the fridge will allow the exterior to soften and the interior to firm up.

The entire process takes about 5 days, from start to edible product. I live up to the name Fanatic Cook with this, don't I. I start on Thursday morning with soaking the grain. I strain it that night to start sprouting, rinse it Friday morning and again Friday night, and finally grind and bake it on Saturday. It's ready to eat on Tuesday. Saturday is the only day I have to really be doing anything to it.