Sprouted Wheat Sourdough

I opened my cabinet this past weekend to peruse what pantry items I had on hand and was greeted by jars and jars of grains … brown rice, wild rice, millet, quinoa, bulgur, rye berries, hard winter wheat berries, soft wheat berries … the list could go on. I felt pleased seeing all of those jars in a neat row, but I also felt a little like a squirrel, hoarding tasty treats for leaner days. I decided that I needed to use up some of my stores and searched for some bread recipes to do so.

Sprouted Wheat Sourdough

In my perusal of bread books, I came across numerous recipes for breads with sprouted wheat or other grains. These recipes excited me as I had never sprouted grains before, but had heard of the nutritional benefits of doing so. When seeds are placed in water they will begin to germinate. During this process the seeds begin to break down due to enhanced enzyme activity, nutrients are transferred between the endosperm and germ of the seed, and new molecules are created. Importantly, vitamin content, in particular vitamins A, B-complex, and C, is increased, and calcium, potassium and iron are released. In addition, the carbohydrates are transformed into a more digestible form.

sprouted wheat sourdough 1Hard Winter Wheat Berries

Sprouting grains turns out to be pretty easy as well. I have outline the process below. It does take some planning ahead of time, but the actual work is minimal. The recipe that follows is my own creation. I wanted to ensure a rich wheat flavor in the bread so I used a whole wheat starter in addition to the sprouted wheat grains. In order to achieve sufficient gluten development and a light crumb, however, I opted for adding white flour into the recipe, as well. I also decided to use a bit of barley malt to ensure a well-browned crust. Because the sprouted grains increase enzyme activity, the sugars in the dough are depleted more rapidly, resulting in a pale crust. The barley malt gives the enzymes a little extra food so that some sugars will be left in the dough to caramelize during baking into a dark, attractive crust.

I was pleased with the results. The crumb is moist, but light. The sourdough contributes a slight sourness to complement the nuttiness of the sprouted grains, ultimately yielding a well-rounded flavor to the bread. You could also try this bread sprouting other sorts of grains such as rye, alfalfa, or barley. Use whatever you have on hand!

I’m happy to be part of this week’s YeastSpotting. Make sure to check out what others are baking as well!

Sprouted Wheat*

255 g wheat berries (I used hard winter wheat berries, but you could use soft ones too)
510 g water

Rinse wheat berries to eliminate dirt or other foreign matter. Cover the wheat berries with the water and let soak for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature.

Drain the wheat berries and save the water. This water is full of minerals and enzymes so you can either drink it (I tried this, but could only stomach about one sip), water your plants with it, add it to the final bread dough, or use it in soups. Rinse the wheat berries and return them to the container. Cover with water again and let them sprout at room temperature. You should see the beginning of a tail within 3 to 6 hours. If not, drain, rinse, and cover the wheat berries again. The wheat berries will be ready to use as soon as a tiny white tail shows itself.

Refrigerate the sprouted wheat berries until you are ready to use them in the final dough.

*This recipe will yield about 420-425 g of sprouted wheat berries, the amount needed for the recipe below.

Sprouted Wheat Sourdough
Yield: ~2 kg of dough

420 g sprouted wheat berries
595 g mature 100% hydration whole wheat sourdough starter
350 g water
30 g barley malt
580 g white all purpose flour
20 g salt

Grind the sprouted wheat berries in a food processor to as fine a pulp as possible. Try not to overheat the wheat berries, which will over enhance enzyme activity. If the wheat berry pulp does start to feel warm, stop processing it, and let it sit for a bit to cool off before continuing.

Place the sprouted wheat berry pulp, water, whole-wheat starter, and barley malt in a large bowl. Stir until the starter is loosened, the wheat berry pulp is distributed, and the barley malt dissolved. Then add the flour and mix all of the flour is hydrated. Let rest or autolyse for 20 minutes.

Add the salt and continue kneading until the gluten has developed enough so that the dough feels elastic and supple. It may be able to pass the window pane test, but any large grain may make this difficult. In any case, you should be kneading the dough by hand for at least ~15 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, place it in a well-oiled container, and cover.

Allow to ferment for 3 hours with a fold at 1 and 2 hours. By the last hour the dough should double in volume.

After the bulk fermentation, uncover the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into four equal pieces, tuck the edges under each piece, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Uncover the dough and shape the each piece into a boule or batard. Place the shaped loaves, seam side up, into flour proofing containers. Allow the loaves to proof at room temperature for 1to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475 ºF one hour before baking. Prepare with a baking stone and steam pan. Invert the loaves onto a peel, score them, place them in the oven, and turn down the oven to 450 ºF . Bake for 15 minutes with steam and another 20 minutes without steam. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and leave loaves in for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into.

sprouted wheat sourdough 2

19 Responses to “Sprouted Wheat Sourdough”

  1. I do love sprouted grains but I’m not sure I would be brave enough to take even a sip of the sprouting water! What a fine bread you made with that grain.

    • I just finished another batch of sprouted grain “water.” I used the instruction from the late great Ann Wigmore. She calls the drink Rejuvelac and my wife and I drink it everyday. I’ll agree with the folks at sproutpeople.com, the plave I get my grains, that rye seeds makee the better tasting Rejuvelac though I also find wheat berries quite tolerable if not enjoyable.

      I gotta get me some sourdough starter….I’m new to this aspect of using wheat sprouts,


      • cbucholz Says:

        I’m impressed! I wasn’t used to the flavor, but I could understand the appeal of it. I’m sure it is really good for you. Perhaps I’ll have to try making some with rye seeds.

      • With this “rejuvelac” drink, you’re not really drinking the sprouting water but actually making it after the grains have begun to sprout. When making the “rejuvelac” you sprout the grains like normal, soak, sit/rinse several days, then fill with water and let that sit for 2 days for first batch and 1 day for second batch. I belive the drink is filled with probiotics and this, along with my milk kefir grains that I ferment, keeps me and my wife pretty healthy.


      • cbucholz Says:

        Thanks! I’ll have to try it.

  2. […] Sprouted Wheat Sourdough […]

  3. Foolish Poolish Says:

    Wow! I just recently bought various grains with the intent purpose of making a sprouted grain sourdough – much like this one. Having never done it before, I’m glad I waited. I was thinking about using the sprouting water in the dough but wasn’t sure if the enzyme activity would be overkill. Now I know.

    • cbucholz Says:

      I ended up using the sprouting water in some soup I made and used fresh water for the dough. I read in a book you could use it for the dough though. Give it a try and see how it goes. Or perhaps half sprouting water and half fresh water…?

  4. Beautiful loaves. They look delicious.
    I took the Whole Grains workshop at SFBI in April and we made sprouted bread (if you’d like more details about that experience: http://www.farine-mc.com/2009/04/keith-giustos-power-bread.html). What surprises me in your recipe is that you waited until the wheat started to sprout a little tail. I remember Giusto telling us that once that happens, the wheat won’t work in the bread. I guess it all depends! 😉

    • cbucholz Says:


      Thanks for the reference on the SFBI workshop. I’ll have to try your way too and see if the outcomes are any different. I did notice that this time the dough felt very ‘active’, if you will … lots of enzyme activity. Thanks for the tip!

  5. I’ve had sev good experiences with sprouted wheat breads, but I’ve always allowed to grains to sprout the tail out as far as the length of the grain itself – and I always thought they had great taste – Now I’m going to try MC’s process in anticipation of even more flavor.

    Can’t wait!

    • cbucholz Says:

      Let me know how your turns out! I’d love to hear and tweak my own recipe.

      • Hey,
        Made the sprouted wheat sourdough this weekend – I caused a few problems for myself by assuming I had enough active starter (didn’t read/think recipe ahead of time), so I had to wait until additional starter was made – this meant that once dough was ready for fermentation, it was 10pm, so I put dough in fridge for night.

        Then, since I wasn’t using a whole wheat starter, I subbed 100 gms of whole wheat for white flour – this had an added plus, since I keep my whole wheat frozen, and I put the frozen ww in the processor with the “almost” sprouted wheat (had a little problem determining that perfect swollen wheat grain, without the evidence of the white tip to help!) – that essentially kept the temp down, and kept the sprouted wheat from “gumming” up.

        I didn’t really follow the formula exactly, since my starter was more than 100% hydrated, and I wanted to keep the dough as wet as possible for a better crumb – but even though it was quite wet, it didn’t have a nice crumb, as you can see – my rise was very slow, more like 4-5 hours, after the dough came back to room temp from the fridge. Baked up too dense.

        I didn’t get much oven spring, and the loaves look over-proofed to me – that suggests to me that my starter was not as active as it should have been (I’m not sure if the acid/yeast balance is correct in my starter), and I’m also wondering if I could have given it more kneading than I did?

        I was not real happy with this try – I was expecting more sweetness from the sprouted wheat (I’ve read that sprouting changes some starches to sugars, but the longer the sprout gets, the more bitter it becomes – strangely, I think some of my past efforts, with what MC might call “over-sprouted” grains, were sweeter than this one! I’m wondering if perhaps I didn’t let the wheat have enough sprouting time (I gave it about 18 hours, and stopped because I feared going too far).

        I’m sure that I’ve introduced far too many variables into your formula to call this a fair attempt – do you think the overnight fermentation may have been too much for this recipe? But I’m not done trying –
        I’ll be doing more sprouted wheat breads, since it’s good for diabetics, and a more healthy way to do carbs anyway.

        Thanks for the formula – I promise I’ll follow more closely next try.

        (If the photo link at the top of this message does not work, use this to see photo of bread: http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f229/drfugawe/IMG_2116-1.jpg )

      • cbucholz Says:

        Thanks for all the detailed information! I think your loaf still looks really nice! My crumb wasn’t all that open either, but with all those whole grains in there I wasn’t expecting it. My bread did feel light, though, and not overly dense. I think the overnight proof you did may have been too much. By the end of the three hours I thought the dough was going to jump out of the proofing container there was so much enzyme activity going on.

        Frankly, this was my first try with sprouted grains so I’m by no means an expert. Perhaps I’ll poke around for other ideas and make another attempt sometime soon.

      • Yes, I think you may be correct – I sensed it over-proofed – so perhaps the overnight was too much – and when I remembered what you said about how active the dough was, I was somewhat disappointed – but actually, as with many sourdoughs, the longer it sits around, the more flavor it develops. Because sprouted wheat breads have so much more nutrition than do white flour breads, I’ll be regularly doing them.

        Just one quick question, I’m wondering why you used so much starter? Were you adapting from another sourdough recipe? Or did you invent this one? (I guess that’s more than one question, isn’t it? – Oops, there’s another one!)

        Thanks for the nice presentation.

      • cbucholz Says:

        Hmmm… that’s a good question. I read a couple of other recipes before creating this one and used an amount of starter similar to those recipes. But, now that I think about it, I don’t know if it is really necessary. That’s probably why it was so active too. Maybe I’ll try this again, reducing the amount of starter and lengthening the bulk fermentation time to achieve maximum flavor.

        I really love this! There are so many things you need to think about when working with dough. It’s always fun trying to get the right combination of variable to achieve your perfect loaf.

        Thanks for all the constructive discussion. I’m getting good ideas…

      • Whoops! My last reply got misplaced (under Laura’s comment) – sorry!

  6. I chuckled when I saw you collection of seeds and grains, I am a little squirrel too.

    I am glad I found this site through MC, will be back for more inspiration!

  7. One of the mysteries of sourdough, I think, is the why and how of the amount of starter used in each type if bread – I have a very limited comprehension of this! But I think basically, the lower the ratio of new food for the yeasts to consume, the less fermentation and proofing time is needed – I think! Recently I made a ciabatta that starts with 1 tsp of starter! But it sits at room temp for 18 hours – and then you add more flour and water, and give it more proofing. Strange.

    However, then i come across recipes that use normal amounts of starter and then suggest that they can be stored in the fridge for days – ??? I don’t understand why they don’t over-proof during this time.

    It’s all still a mystery to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: