Since it’s been spring I’ve been back in my springtime habit of sprouting things. I get all into it and sprout anything I can get a sprout out of and then I just eat them in or on everything. They’re just wonderful. This got me thinking about sprouted grain in bread, which is something that has crossed my mind more than once in the past, but I’ve never done.
I wanted to make a sourdough bread that included white and whole wheat flours and a large portion of ground sprouted wheat berries. I looked through all my books and didn’t find exactly what I wanted, so I wrote a formula myself. This is also something I’ve never done before, and boy was it exciting. I spent about an hour and a half the other evening, with a notebook and a calculator perfecting it on paper. Oh my…it was fun. After I was done, I felt a little drained and my boyfriend asked me which class I had been doing homework for. I told him what I had been doing and he said “man, even your hobbies are like homework.” He can’t really wrap his head around the fact that I find playing with calculators to be a lot of fun. :)
I ended up using both Peter Reinhart’s Whole Wheat and Sprouted Grain Bread from WGB and Hamelman’s Five Grain Levain as guides for my formula.
To sprout: Rinse whole grains or seeds or beans and soak overnight in a mason jar or other glass container of similar shape (for about 12 hours, softer or smaller things such as sunflower seeds or lentils could go a little less and bigger or harder things such as wheat berries and garbanzos could go a little longer). Drain and cover the jar with cheesecloth or muslin or plastic with holes poked in it and secure with a rubber band. Turn jar upside down, place in a bowl and cover with a towel. Twice a day, fill up the jar with water, swirl contents and drain through the cheesecloth. Place drained jar back in the bowl, upside down. I generally do this until the tails of the sprouts are about as long as the grain itself, which can take anywhere from 1 to 4 days, depending on what I’m sprouting. I learned from WGB, though, that when using in bread making, wheat berries should only be sprouted until you see just the beginnings of the tail, so it took me about a day (or two rinsings) after soaking for my sprouts. Note: you can save the initial soaking water and it is close to what’s called Rejuvelac. It’s quite nutritious and you can use it as part of the water in the final dough.
I also used amaranth sprouts in this bread, which ended up not grinding well, so they remained whole. They’re tiny so it ended up good.
I weighed out both sprouts to equal 200 grams and then ground them in a food processor. I’m sure any combination of sprouts to equal 200 grams would work great here. edit note: If you start out with a certain amount of dried grain and sprout it, you'll end up with more than you began with because the grain absorbs water and becomes heavier. So weigh out your sprouts after they've become sprouts and then grind them. If you have leftovers all the better; mix them in with some rice or throw them in your soup or oatmeal or salad or, you know, anything.
So here’s the recipe I used, I’ll skip the page of formula that comes before the final dough part.
· 200 g high gluten flour
· 67 g bread flour
· 116 g whole wheat flour
· 113 g ground wheat berry sprouts
· 87 g amaranth sprouts
· 288 g water
· 10 g salt
· 283 g ripe starter (75% hydration, I used 93% bread flour and 7% rye flour in my final build)
1. Mix and knead. I kneaded by hand for about 8 minutes, rested for 5 then kneaded for another 30 seconds or so. The dough is sticky.
2. Bulk ferment. It took me about five hours to get it to rise by about half. I stretched and folded twice, once at one hour and another two hours later.
3. Shaping. At this point the dough was smooth and pretty great looking. It felt a little heavy, as do many of my sourdoughs at this point. I shaped it into a big batard. Proof for about three hours, or you know, until you feel it’s ready (puffy looking, bigger, finger poke indent remains). Or, I imagine retarding overnight would work nicely. In fact, I think I’ll try retarding next time.
4. Slashing and Baking. I loaded it into a 500 degree oven with steam and turned it down to 450 after about 3 minutes. It baked for 37 minutes.
This bread turned out wonderfully, I’m so happy with it. The loaf is moist and it tastes slightly sweet and very mildly sour. It has an aspect of flavor that is deeper than other sourdough breads I’ve made with large percentages of whole wheat flour. Now I could just be waxing poetics about my sprouts, but I’m going to go ahead and say that this is they’re doing. I highly recommend trying out sprouts in bread, perhaps even as part of the soaker in some other recipe. They’re so nutritious and it’s the perfect time of year.