Sprouted Wheat Bread (Essene Bread)

Serve with your favorite dipping oil!
Serve with your favorite dipping oil!

Sprouting grains is economical, ecological, simple, and tasty!  There is very little hands-on time, and the result is a highly nutritious, “living” food.  Sprouting, or germinating, allows enzymes in the grains to become active and create a host of nutritional changes:

  • Proteins are converted into free amino acids
  • Starches change into simple plant sugars
  • Minerals combine in a way that increases their assimilation
  • Vitamin content increases from 3 to 12 times

Wheat sprouts, in particular, contain four times more folic acid and six times more vitamin C than unsprouted wheat.

I will be specifically concentrating on wheat sprouts in this post in order to use them for Essene Bread.  Red Winter Wheat Berries are the best choice for sprouting.  Be sure that your grains are not sprayed with chemicals or dyed.  Use only grains that are certified to be edible.  Also, make sure your grains have no traces of mold, as this will get out of control during the sprouting process, and will make you sick.  Always be sure your sprouting container is clean (I always wash mine with hot soapy water when I’m finished sprouting grains in it) to prevent any carryover of molds that may have started to grow from the previous sprouting.

Essene Bread is so easy and nutritious that it’s the only kind I make.  It has a wonderful sweet, nutty flavor, and it’s chewy texture is reminiscent of an english muffin.  In fact, I use these for everything an english muffin can be used for…which is pretty much anything!

To sprout the Wheat Berries:

Ingredients

2 c. Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

Large glass jar (I use a 2 quart Ball jar)

Cheesecloth or plastic lid with holes in it

Method

1. Soaking:

Add 2 c. Wheat Berries to the glass jar and cover with two layers of cheesecloth, or a plastic lid with holes in it.

Add warm water, swirl it around to clean the seeds, then pour it out.

Refill with double the amount of warm water as there are seeds.

Place in a dark cabinet, or cover with a towel, and let it soak overnight.

Soaking2.  Sprouting

Pour off the soak water.

Turn the jar to spread out the seed.

Place drained jar in a dark place at an angle to allow any extra water to drain out.

Sprouting

Leave for 12 hours, then rinse the sprouts with cool water, and drain again.

Repeat until the sprouts have “tails” that are twice as long as the berries and have a sweet taste (taste them!).  It usually takes 2-3 days to accomplish this.

Wheat Berry "Tails"

The sprouts should be ready in the evening, so complete the final rinsing and let them dry overnight.  The jar will be packed full of sprouts!

Fully Sprouted Wheat Berries

3.  Grinding

Now that the berries are sprouted and drained (there will still be some moisture, which is needed to keep the dough moist), grind them to make the dough.  You may use a meat grinder, food processor, or hand-cranked grain mill.  I use my meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid stand mixer.

The resulting dough will be juicy, sticky, mottled light and dark, and have the consistency of raw hamburger.

Ground Sprouts

4.  Kneading

Lightly oil your hands, or wet them with water, and knead the dough within the bowl for about one minute.  Keep repeatedly folding it over on itself, wetting your hands if the dough gets too sticky.

5.  Shaping

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using wet hands, take a small amount of dough and place it on the parchment paper.

Flatten to to approximately 1 1/2 inches.

Shaped Dough

6.  Baking

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours until the outside is firm, not hard (the low temperature, long term baking preserves most of the nutrients from heat).  The bread will spring back slightly after gently touching.  The bottom of the bread will seem a bit sticky, but that’s fine.

Allow the bread to cool on wire racks and then store in sealed plastic bags.  The bread will become softer and sweeter with time.

The bread can be kept at room temperature for three to four days, or refrigerated for up to four weeks!

I have a continual batch of wheat berries sprouting so that I don’t run out of bread.  I can’t get enough of it!

Tomato Pesto Mozzarella on Sprouted Bread
Tomato Pesto Mozzarella on Sprouted Bread

100% Barley Sourdough Bread

Barley Sourdough Bread

Chewy, dense, full of sourdough flavor.  A pure Barley Bread that is naturally risen?  Impossible, you might say, especially since Barley Flour has virtually no gluten, the main element of flour that helps the bread rise.  Well, I’ve found a method that involves using pure Barley Flour that is fermented in order to bring out a delicious sourdough flavor and give the bread a little bit of rise (you essentially end up with a flattened bread).  The Barley Flour is not so overwhelming that you lose the sourdough taste, and it is low glycemic, which means that it will not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels like most white or whole wheat flours may do.

If you don’t have experience in bread baking, I find this to be relatively simple.  The first step is making your sourdough starter.  Once you have an active starter going, it’s time to convert it over to a Barley Flour starter.  

I tried various methods in converting my white flour starter to a whole grain one, and found the Detmolder Process gave the best results.  The process is for Rye Flour, yet Barley Flour may be easily substituted.  You need to make sure that you have an open schedule during the Detmolder Process, since there are specific times in which you add more flour and water to the starter.  You do not need to be precise on your ferment stages, but do not wait longer than one hour before adding the flour and water, or you will start to get a rancid starter.

I got a lot of help with my Sourdough bread making strategy from Sourdough Home, including the ratios of Starter/Flour/Water used in this recipe.  This is an amazing web site, so if you have a particular interest in Sourdough bread making, I highly recommend you spend your time browsing this very informative website.

*This recipe will make 4 small loaves of Barley Sourdough bread.  They may be frozen for up to three months.*

Day One

6:00 am-“Freshening”

Stage 1: Freshening
Stage 1: Freshening

I recommend you start as early as possible.  Even starting at 6:00 am, the bread usually isn’t done until around 9:00 or 10:00 the next evening.

Mix:

 

1/2 tsp. Starter

1 Tb. Water

4 tsp. Barley Flour

Set in a warm place and let ferment for 6 hours.

12:00 pm- “Basic Sour”

Stage Two: Basic Sour
Stage Two: Basic Sour

To the previous mixture, add:

1/2 c. + 1 Tb. Water

1 c. + 1 Tb. Barley Flour

Mix well, and return to the warm place for 24 hours.

Day Two

12:00 pm-“Full Sour”

Stage Three: Full Sour
Stage Three: Full Sour

To the previous mixture, add:

1 1/3 c. Water

2 1/2 c. + 1 Tb. Barley Flour

Mix well, and return to the warm place to ferment for 5 hours.

You now have your fermented Barley Flour Starter that is ready to use.  Do not refrigerate the starter, or ferment longer than mentioned, or it will become rancid and not have any active yeast.  

The Barley Bread Sourdough Recipe:

Ingredients

All of the active Barley Flour Starter from above

1 3/4 c. Water

3 Tb. Butter, softened and broken into small pieces

5 c. Barley Flour

2 3/4 tsp. Salt

4 Tb. Honey

Method

It is strongly suggested to use a stand mixer for this bread (i.e. KitchenAid), since this is a very sticky dough.  If you do not have access to one, you may attempt to use a sturdy bowl and a wooden spoon.

In a mixer:

Add all ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Knead for 5 minutes.

Turn off and let rest for 5 minutes.  This will allow the liquid to be fully absorbed into the flour.

Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Knead for 5 minutes more.

Scrape the dough into a large oiled glass bowl for rising.

Cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes (you will not see much rise since Barley Flour has such a small amount of gluten).

Using wet hands (this is the best way to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers), remove 1/4 of the dough from the bowl.

On a greased and floured cookie sheet, loosely shape into a loaf.

Formed Loaves
Formed Loaves

Repeat with the remaining 3/4 of the dough until you have 4 small loaves.  Lightly dust the loaves with flour and cover loosely.

Let the dough rest for approximately 1 1/2 hours.  Again, there will be little rise.  You will, however, notice that the dough has a “cracked” appearance.  This means it is ready for baking.

"Cracked"
“Cracked”

Place an empty pan on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

When preheated, place the bread in the oven and pour 1 c. water into the empty pan to achieve a “steamy” environment.

Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes longer.

Let cool, then tear off a hunk and dip in your favorite dipping oil!

Dipped

Rye Pan Bread

Rye Pan Bread

This is a wonderful recipe that was influenced by my mother-in-law.  Cornbread is a wonderful, quick bread to have at a meal, but not always the healthiest option.  My mother-in-law got the idea to make a bread with rye flour, and we were amazed at the flavor and texture of the bread.  The rye flour still gave the bread a bit of “crunch” due to the bits of coarse grain in the flour, yet it still cooks up airy and moist.  This is a wonderful last minute accompaniment to any meal.

Ingredients

2 c. Rye Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp. Salt

2 Tb. Olive Oil or Butter, melted

1 Egg

2 c. Half and Half

Method

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Add remaining ingredients, and mix well.

Pour into a lightly greased pan (I use a cake pan) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve with butter.  Lots of butter.

Sugar Free Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

I call these my Blueberry Ninja Muffins, since I’ve adapted it to be less messy when my children eat them.  I add a blueberry puree’ to the top of the muffins for two reasons: for uniform blueberry flavor (whole blueberries tend to sink to the bottom of the batter), and to trick my children into eating the whole muffin.  They like to pick out the blueberries and eat the rest of the muffin separately.  Talk about a mess!

For approximately 6 GIANT muffins (I use my large muffin tin for this recipe):

Ingredients

2 c. Spelt Flour

1 Tb. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

3 Tb. + 1 tsp.  Powdered Stevia

1 egg, beaten

1 c. Half and Half, Whole Milk, Almond Milk

1/2 c. Whole Fat Greek Yogurt

2 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 c. Unsalted Butter, melted (You may sub a flavorless baking oil of your choice)

1 + 1/2 c. Frozen Blueberries

1 tsp. Arrowroot Starch

Method

For the puree’:

Heat 1 c. Frozen Blueberries and 1 tsp. Powdered Stevia over medium high heat.

Mash and stir the blueberries for approximately 5 minutes to reduce liquid.

Add 1 tsp. Arrowroot Starch, and simmer for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and allow to cool while mixing the muffin batter.

Muffin Batter:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the Eggs and Yogurt together.

Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients (including the Butter).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just blended.

Fold in 1/2 c. Frozen blueberries.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.

Spoon approximately 2 tsp. of the Blueberry puree’ on top of the batter in each cup.

Swirl into batter.

Bake for 30-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Updated 4/26/13

100% Whole Grain Rolls

Rolls

I love a big, greasy burger.  The problem is that the bun I serve it on is usually lacking either in flavor or nutritional value.  I stumbled across a Whole Wheat Hamburger Bun recipe online, but wanted to incorporate some barley flour as well.  I made some ingredient and method modifications, and found the rolls turned out very well.  I made a large batch and stored some in the freezer for later use.

Ingredients

3 c. Whole Wheat Flour

2 c. Barley Flour

1 1/2 c. Warm Water

2 pkts. Active Dry Yeast

2 Tb. Honey

1/4 c. Warm Water

1/2 c. Half and Half

2 Tb. Butter

1 1/2 tsp. Salt

1 Egg Yolk

2 tsp. Cold Water

Method

In a large bowl, mix 3 c. Whole Wheat Flour and 1 1/2 c. Warm Water and let rest for 10 min.

Meanwhile, mix together 1/4 c. Warm Water (100-115 degrees), Yeast, and Honey.  Let rest for 5 min. until bubbly.

Melt Butter, Half and Half, and Salt in a small saucepan on the stove, not allowing the mixture to get above 120 degrees.

Add Yeast mixture and Half and Half mixture to the Whole Wheat Flour.

*I used my KitchenAid Mixer at this point

Start the knead cycle on the mixer, and add 2 c. Barley Flour 1/2 c. at a time.  Knead for 5 min.

Scrape the side of the bowl, cover, and let rest for 5 min.

Knead for 5 minutes more.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Place dough on a floured surface, gently knead to remove air bubbles, and roll out to about 1 inch thickness.

Rolled Dough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Separate the dough into equal parts (I used a pastry cutter and cut into 3 x 3 inch rectangles).

Form dough “balls,” and pull some dough over the top of the roll to form a “gluten cloak.”

"Gluten Cloak"
“Gluten Cloak”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place on parchment paper, or a greased cookie sheet.

Allow to rise 30 minutes more.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix 1 Egg Yolk and 2 tsp cold water.  Brush tops of rolls.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

A Basic Sourdough Starter

About a year and a half ago, I became interested in bread making. My first attempt was a basic bread recipe, using packets of yeast. All I noticed was the taste of the yeast, and I was a bit put off by it. I began to look into sourdough bread making, which involves using a starter instead of packets of yeast. I had always enjoyed sourdough flavor, but was fascinated when I began to read about the process of creating a sourdough starter.  I found that it was a lot easier than I thought to create my own starter, and I was able to begin baking bread that I could be proud of.

So delicious...

The original recipe for the basic sourdough starter can be found here.  I found a few modifications needed to be made to make it a “true” sourdough starter.  Below is my method for creating a basic sourdough starter.

Ingredients

Organic, Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Filtered/Mineral/Spring Water

Glass container with non-reactive lid

Method

Day One

Combine 1/2 c. Flour with 1/2 c. Warm Water until well mixed.  Scrape the sides of the container and cover.  I recommend covering with plastic wrap and poking a few small holes in the top to allow gas to escape, and to allow any natural yeast in the environment to be incorporated.  You may also loosely cover it with a towel.  Place in a warm place (the top of the refrigerator, in the oven with the oven light on…I kept mine in the laundry room, as it was always warm in there).  Let sit for 24 hours.

Day Two

You may start to see small bubbles on the surface of the starter.  This means things are moving along!  Add another 1/2 c. Flour and 1/2 c. Warm Water and mix well.  Scrape the sides, cover, and let sit for another 24 hours.

Day Three

Now you should be seeing more bubbles, and the starter will begin to rise.  It’s okay to get excited…I was amazed that the starter was rising without any help from commercial yeast!  Add 1/2 c. Flour and 1/2 c. Warm Water and mix well.  Cover and let sit for another 24 hours.

Day Four

Same as Day Three.

Days Five through Seven

Between days five and seven, you will notice your starter is beginning to look like a risen, wet dough.  You will see a matrix of bubbles throughout, and will start to notice that wonderful sourdough smell (I would describe it as a sweet, “beery” smell).  It is now ready and “active” to be used in any sourdough bread recipe.

Never use all of the starter in a recipe.  Make sure you save a small amount, and replenish it with 1 c. Flour and 1 c. Warm Water.  If you are not ready to use it yet, you can loosely cover your container with the lid and keep it refrigerated.  To feed it, discard 1 c. of the starter, add back 1/2 c. Flour and 1/2 c. Warm Water, and mix well.  It is recommended to feed your starter every one to two weeks, but I must admit I am a forgetful person.  I usually feed it every two to four weeks, and it is still going strong!  You can keep your starter refrigerated indefinitely as long as you feed it well (mine is going on two years)!

Note:  As the starter sits, you will notice a clear to gray colored liquid on the top.  This is perfectly normal.  It will have a lovely “beery” smell to it.  I usually mix it back in, and add a little less water when feeding it so that my starter isn’t too “soupy.”  

If you start to notice a “cheesy” smell, or a pinkish hue to the starter, that means that bacteria have taken over (the yeast have lost the battle).  You will need to throw it out and start over.

I did not include a recipe for sourdough bread since I use my starter to feed other whole grain starters that I make.  I am not a big white bread eater, so prefer to use whole grain flours in cooking.  I plan to post recipes for these whole grain sourdoughs at a future date, but it is not too late to go ahead and get started, er, with your starter (hardy har har)!

100% Rye Flour Banana Pecan Muffins

Sweet Cinnamon Topping, Plain, Vanilla Cream Topping
Sweet Cinnamon Topping, Plain, Vanilla Cream Topping

I really enjoy the heartiness of these muffins. The moistness and flavor are amazing, and they are very filling. I prefer to smear them with almond butter while they’re still hot.

Ingredients

2 c. Rye Flour

1 Tb. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

3 Tb. Powdered Stevia

1 Egg, beaten

1 c. Half and Half or Whole Milk

2 Medium Very Ripe Bananas, Mashed

2 tsp Vanilla

1/4 c. Unsalted Butter, melted

1/2 c. Chopped Pecans

For the Sweet Cinnamon Topping:

Mix 2 tsp. Cinnamon with 1 tsp. Powdered Stevia and sprinkle on unbaked muffins.

For the Vanilla Cream Topping:

Blend 4 tsp. Powdered Stevia, 4 Tb. Softened Butter, and 1 tsp. Vanilla with a hand mixer.  Slowly mix in 4 Tb. Milk.  Spread on muffins once cooled.

Method
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Grease muffin tins with butter or spray oil.Mix the dry ingredients (excluding the pecans) in a large bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients (including mashed bananas) in a smaller bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the large bowl, and mix until just blended.

Fold in the pecans.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool. Enjoy!

Updated 4/26/13

100% Barley Flour Sweet Potato Muffins, Sugar Free!

Barley Sweet Potato Muffins, fresh out of the oven.
Barley Sweet Potato Muffins, fresh out of the oven.

It is hard to find a pure barley flour recipe, let alone a sugar free one. These muffins come out moist and delicious, and you will find yourself making another batch the next day!

Ingredients

2 c. Barley Flour

1 Tb. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

3 Tb. Powdered Stevia

Pinch Allspice

1 eggs, beaten

1 c. Half and Half or Whole Milk

1/2 c. Whole Fat Plain Yogurt

1 c. Cooked, Mashed Sweet Potato

2 tsp Vanilla

1/4 c. Unsalted Butter, melted

1/4 c. Unsweetened Coconut

1/4 c. Raisins

1/4 c. Chopped Pecans

Method

Bake the sweet potato in a 400 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until soft. Let cool.

Leave the oven set at 400 degrees.

Grease muffin tins with butter or spray oil.

Mix the dry ingredients (excluding coconut, raisins, and pecans) in a large bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients (including sweet potato) in a smaller bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the large bowl, and mix until just blended.

Fold in the coconut, raisins, and pecans.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool. Enjoy!

I fill my mini muffin tin first, then use the leftover batter to make regular size muffins. Leo has an easier time eating the mini muffins by himself, and I enjoy snacking on them throughout the day.

Updated 4/26/13