Making sprouted grain bread

This is my way of making sprouted bread.

As usual, forgive my inferior photography. They say a bad workman blames his tools, but I find the new digital cameras so hard to use that I only shoot in ‘Auto’ mode and so have no feeling for it whatsoever. In any case, I am unable to get shots that show any detail – it just won’t focus if I get too close. Perhaps I need a different lense but suspect should get a better camera. ANYWAY:

This is a bowl of grains and seeds and spices which has been fermenting naturally since Sunday morning when they were mixed. Today is Wednesday morning. As you can (hopefully!) see, it is bubbling away nicely.

So there is the menu. It’s for 10 loaves which makes it easy to read for 1 loaf. (Click on the image and it will open in larger format in new window so you can read the figures.)

Description of Process: add water to all ingredients except salt four days before usual Mix Day which is day before Bake Day, i.e. if Bake Day is Friday, Mix Day is Thursday and Sprout Mix Day is Sunday morning. Add all ingredients to a bowl, then add water 6796 to the right), then cover in a room temperature area and leave until Wednesday when if it is looking a little scummy on top I like to scrape off the top into a sieve, rinse it clean and refresh the water in the bowl but leave most of it in. The photograph at the top was taken just after doing this, so all the bubbling going on comes from the cultures developed over the previous three days.

Now in terms of developing the spreadsheet I have found that if I reduce the final weight by 66% before soaking that the after-soak weight will more or less match the recipe weight. It’s not exact. The 66% amounts for this mix are on the right of the main menu panel (Lentils 291, Barley 583 etc.) The ground flax is also added although you could wait since they can’t sprout having been ground. Soon I will buy whole seeds which will soak/sprout along with the rest.

Note on quantities: On the right hand panel (grains reduced to compensate for later increase in weight after soaking compared to the weight desired in the central panel – this is different from how menus are usually calculated for normal flours/breads btw), the grains are divided into 3 because I am now using spelt, rye and red fife wheat. So the total amount is 3931 for the grains only in the main panel. Other refers to lentils, barley etc. 66% of 3931 is 2622 which you can see in the lower left of the right hand (not coloured) panel which again is the one used for the initial measuring of the sprout mix. 2622 divided by 3 is 1311 which is how much of each grain needs to be measured. 1154 is the total dry pre-soaked weight of all the lentils, barley, oats (none), ground flax and sunflower seeds. 2622 is the weight of the three dry presoaked grains. So the total dry weight is 2622 + 1154 = 3775. Then you add the water which is up above at 6796, or 180% of the grains. The idea is to have plenty for the grains to soak up as they begin to sprout.

How do you know they are ready? Three ways:

They are definitely sprouting (too much so) when you see them push out sprout legs, but usually this is just a couple on the top which start long before the bulk of the rest.

Second: you see almost-sprout-legs forming, bulges at the growth end of the seed/grain. At the point when these bulges are forming you sometimes see little white flesh peeking through from underneath. If you squeeze a grain like that you will see that inside it is white and liquid. In fact, this is basically what makes milk. (Think about it: cows eat grass and turn it into milk.) Once the inside of the grain is white and liquid like this, the chemistry has changed from being a dormant seed bound with phytic and other acids to a living plant. And at that point you are ready to grind them up into mush which is then baked into bread.

Mix Day: for a while I was using a 1880’s design meat grinder but found it too often got clogged up so that for every 3 minutes grinding it was 5 minutes cleaning out, which was highly frustrating. Now I use an old Cuisinart I picked up used for $50.00 and it doesn’t take all that long loading 3 cups at a time and pulsing for 15 seconds. One could use a stand blender, but probably only 1 cup at a time, which would take far longer. One day I will get a mechanic grinder and suspect that will do the trick even better.

After the grains are ground, I add the remaining water from the recipe (830g), but pay attention to the feel of the ‘dough’. If it is already very wet I might reduce the water quantity. Tip: save some of the water poured off from the soaked grains before grinding. Improves flavour and includes some of the culture for additional fermentation during the subsequent overnight fermentation period before baking the next day.

Don’t forget the salt!

Baking: If you do end up with very wet dough, just bake it for longer until internal temp is at least 95C/200F. If you do need a longer bake, then make sure the oven is not too hot. In my brick oven I don’t like to bake the fresh-ground or sprouted loaves until it is below 425F/220C. But radiant heat baking can be higher than in a convection oven.

The issue here is balancing the need to thoroughly bake a rather wet dough with not having an overly hard or burned crust. In any case, at 425/ 220C in 600-700g sized loaves in loaf pans, it takes about 45 mins in a brick oven. I suspect in a home oven it would be an hour at 400F and you wouldn’t want to go higher, and probably 1.5 hours at 350 is the better way to go. This was complicated to explain but it’s the sort of thing you evaluate in seconds once you have made a couple.

Basically, this is a simple loaf even though it takes six days to make from initial soaking mix to final bake.

And it is truly delicious.

This is a picture of a large loaf (2 of the above recipe in a larger-size loaf pan) from above. Again, apologies for the poor picture quality. Am unable to get this Canon camera to focus on the crumb. Really have to get another!)

Summary of method:

Sunday – mix 66% by weight of all ingredients except salt.

Thursday Evening: grind soaked grains; add in water from recipe and salt.

Friday: Bake at around 400F until internal temp is 95/200.

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