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.
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.
Hard 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!
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.