Saturday, May 05, 2012

Recipe: 100% Sprouted Wheat Bread

It took me about a year to fine-tune this bread. I threw out a lot in the beginning. Here are the basic steps:
  1. Soak the grain.
  2. Sprout the grain.
  3. Grind the grain.
  4. Bake the grain.
  5. Condition the loaf.
The bread is flourless and has no yeast, no dairy, no eggs, no oil or fat, no sweetener. It is only sprouted grain and salt.

Here are the steps in detail:

1. Soak the grain.
  1. Rinse 2 cups of grain. I use organic hard red wheat berries. Lately I've replaced 1/4 of the wheat with barley (it's called "hulled", not pearled). The barley gives a moister consistency and more of a caramelly or malty flavor. But it's not necessary.
  2. Place grain in a large bowl, large enough for the grain to double in size. Cover the grain with water. Let grain soak under water for 8 or 9 hours.
2. Sprout the grain.
  1. At the end of the 8-hour soak, strain the grain and return it to the bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with a wet towel. Cover the towel with a sheet of plastic wrap.
  3. Place bowl in an undisturbed place away from direct heat.
  4. Sprout for about 36 hours. Rinse the grain once or twice during the course of sprouting to prevent it from drying out. Do this by filling the bowl with water, straining it, and returning it to the (rinsed) bowl.
  5. Sprouting times will vary based on how hot the room is. It is better to undersprout than oversprout. If the sprouts get too hairy or start to turn green, your loaf will be edible but mushy.
The sprouts at 36 hours. They're just starting to turn green. These are on the cusp of being oversprouted, but they made a good loaf anyway.

A few more photos. The first one is after an 8-hour soak plus 8 hours sprouting. The next two are ready to grind at 36 hours of sprouting.

3. Grind the grain.
  1. First, place a covered dutch oven or other heavy covered pot into a 270 degree F oven to preheat.
  2. Grinding is the most labor-intensive part of the job. I sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over the sprouts, mix it in, then feed it all through a food grinder.
  3. I've tried a blender and a food processor. I'd go back to the blender if I didn't have this food grinder attachment on my mixer. The food processor left a lot of intact grain stuck to the sides. You can buy a hand-cranked food grinder that might also do the job. Whatever you employ, use a light touch. You only have to crack open the grains, not whiz it to a mash.
  4. After the grain is ground it will be very sticky. Add about 3 tablespoons of water to the mash* and do your best to knead it, about 20 times, just to consolidate it and form it into a cohesive shape. Kneading to develop gluten structure is not necessary with this type of bread.
  5. Place the shaped loaf onto a piece of parchment paper.
* This is very variable. It takes feel. Very sprouted grain will require little to no added water, less sprouted grain will require more. If you rinsed it a lot while sprouting, the residual water on the grain will be enough. I'm sorry I can't be more precise. It's a living thing!

Here's the food grinder working its magic.

Here's my go with the blender. Lots of scraping down the sides but it works. Be careful not to overprocess it.

I shape it like this, although this was only 1.5 cups of wheat so it's not as long as the baked loaf below. The bread will flatten as it bakes. If it's too wet it will look like a pancake no matter how you shape it. Don't shape it too high or it will develop deep fissures as it flattens in the oven.

4. Bake the grain.
  1. Using heat-resistant mitts (or folded towels), open the oven, remove the hot lid, place the loaf-plus-parchment into the pot, replace the lid, close the oven.
  2. Bake for 2 hours at 270 degrees F.
  3. After 2 hours, turn the oven off, take the pot out, remove the lid, carefully pick out the browned loaf holding the parchment, place the loaf-plus-parchment back into the oven on a rack. Let sit in the warm oven for 2 or 3 more hours. (This, I found, helps hold the loaf together and develops a more caramelly flavor.)
  4. Remove the loaf from the oven, discard the parchment, and let sit at room temperature until it is no longer warm to the touch, another hour or two. (This sounds like a lot of work but it's more about being around to move things than actually doing work.)
Here's the loaf out of the pot and setting up in the oven as the oven cools.

5. Condition the loaf.
  1. Place the cooled loaf into a plastic bag and put into the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days - at least!
  2. It was not understanding the importance of this last step that had me throwing out so many loaves in the beginning. The bread, after it cools, will be very hard on the outside and very wet on the inside. Conditioning it in the fridge will allow the exterior to soften and the interior to firm up.

The entire process takes about 5 days, from start to edible product. I live up to the name Fanatic Cook with this, don't I. I start on Thursday morning with soaking the grain. I strain it that night to start sprouting, rinse it Friday morning and again Friday night, and finally grind and bake it on Saturday. It's ready to eat on Tuesday. Saturday is the only day I have to really be doing anything to it.

If you attempt it, I'd really like to know how it goes, what you change, how it turns out, and if you like it or not. I'm trying rye grain for the first time this weekend.



Anne said...

Fantastic. Thank you for such a detailed post; I will let you know how it goes! It's interesting that you refrigerate the loaf - I would never think to do that.

Bix said...

I'm so excited there's someone who at least wants to try it! We were talking about who would take 5 days to make a loaf of bread and someone said a bottle of beer takes 3 times that long.

Well, even when they don't turn out it's a fun hobby. Good luck, Anne!

caulfieldkid said...

I'm waiting on the Rye build, but I'm already coming up with my strategy.

I thought about looking at purchasing a hand grinder/mill , but based on your suggestion it's probably wise to try the blender first.

At any rate, I want to give it a whirl. If I get real ambitious, I may even send you some photos :)


Bix said...

Do it, shaun. And share what you learn. Believe it or not, for as many times as I've done this I'm still learning.

The rye bread was a dud. But it was just a demonstrator. I knew after I ground it that it was too wet but you can't fix it by then. When it's wet it flattens to a pancake in the oven. I have photos. I'll get them up soon.

One reason, I think, the rye doesn't act like wheat is less gluten. Gluten protein forms a scaffolding that holds it together. Also, this rye didn't sprout evenly, nor very well.

But I'll be trying it again.

May said...

Thank you for this recipe&outline, it's wonderful to finally have found a 100% sprouted bread recipe!

I'd like to report that my 1st attempt was about 85% successful - the loaf crumbles up as I try to cut into it, boo - but tasted great nevertheless.
(I truly dislike the taste of raw sprouted wheat/oats so I was pleasantly surprised at just how tasty the barley/wheat combo was after baking.)

Looking back, the chronic crumbliness might have something to do with the sprouts not grinding up evenly in my blender - I think it's because I used the wrong speed settings, too high too fast, the Vita-Mix is one powerful beast.

Next time I'm using our hand grinder for sure, hopefully the loaf will retain its shape under pressure if the "dough" has a more even distribution of ground up sprouts...

Thanks again for the great recipe!

Bix said...

Oh my god, someone tried it! It is crumbly. I've found not adding any water, keeping it drier, holds it together better, but it will always be limp and crumbly. It reminds me of my mother's meatloaf. I guess I'll call it wheatloaf.

It has always been the taste of this that kept me going. I was in love the first time I smelled it baking in the oven. It's not like anything you can buy in a store, well, not for me at least.

Bix said...

By the way, one thing I did in the beginning, because I thought it was wrong or something, was to add yeast, and some flour, and some powered gluten (can you believe?). I didn't want to eat those things but I thought they would improve the texture. In the end I just gave up and liked it for what it was.

May said...

Ahaha, yes, wheatloaf! I like this name very much, seems apt.

This loaf was so crumbly that I couldn't even manage to have the slices look anything like your last pic on this post!
Even so, I ate up all the pieces/clumps, the flavour's fantastic.
Reminds me of pumpernickel but so much better (since all the pumpernickel I've tried comes pre-packaged, unfortunately).

And thanks for the advice, next time I'll leave out as much water as possible, dry out the sprouts longer after the last rinse and such.
I thought gluten would've helped but good to know the loaf's better off au naturel!

Bix said...

A woman after my own heart.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the crumblers here yes it did crumble as I tried to slice it. What about adding an egg to the loaf before baking? I would also add some cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for a bit of sweetness

coldweathergirl said...

I'm excited to try this recipe as I've just gotten into sprouting grains and grinding my own flour! Sadly, I don't yet have a dutch oven. Does anyone have any suggestions to work around that? Thanks for your wonderful post and great photos!

Bix said...

Hi coldweathergirl,

You could probably go with any pan that has a cover that's oven safe, as long as it fits tightly enough to hold in steam.

Rachel @ day2day joys said...

LOVE your pictures! I just got a mill and am looking into sprouting and grinding! Thanks for a very informational post!

Would love for you to link up posts like this to Healthy 2day Wednesdays every week!

Abigail Rowe said...

I've made this four times now, with spelt, and am getting better at it. Catching the sprouts at the right time definitely seems to be the key to the right texture, though all the loaves have been utterly delicious.
I use a manual meat grinder and really enjoy the grinding part of it. It feels kind of ancient :)
Adding chopped dates makes it gorgeous (about 15% of the grain weight).
Thank you for the detailed method and photos. I googled this a lot and this blog was by far the best.

Stephanie Z said...

I used to make no-knead (fermented) bread, which also calls for a Dutch oven, which I didn't have. But I found a 3 qt ceramic baking dish with a glass lid that worked just as well. It looks just like one my Grandma had when I was little! Thanks for the recipe and all the photos. Once I find a place to buy wheat I'll give it a try!

Shira said...

I'm going for it! Already sprouted everything. I used 4 grains: wheat berries, spelt, barley and millet. I did add yeast and barley malt and a 1/4 cup water (so I could proof the yeast). Super sticky like the wet dough loaves of bread I used to bake by the same method of dutch oven baking. I am letting it rise for a few hours, if you can call it that. And now I have to figure out if I should put it in the dutch oven or just bake it straight in the oven in a standard loaf pan. I'm thinking that maybe the dutch oven baking made the moisture stay in and that's why it was so gummy and had to sit in the fridge for 2 days.

Did you ever try it not in the dutch oven? Looking forward to perfecting this, thanks for tips and getting me started.

Bix said...

Shira, you make me want to try more grains now. I hope it works for you. And if it doesn't, I hope you stick with trial-and-errors. It took me about a year to settle on a way to make it without wanting to tweak it. I made it about 3 times a month then and now I make a loaf every week.

I did try baking it outside of a dutch oven, freeform on a pizza stone, but the exterior was too hard. A loaf pan may work well. As usual, I'm curious how it turns out for you.

Shira said...

When you baked it free form was it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes? I do want a soft crust, not a big fan of crusty. I didn't sprout as much grain as I thought I had. Guess I didn't realize how much sprouts mush down to after they are processed. I used my champion juicer without a screen and worked nicely.

Bix said...

The Champion juicer has a worm or auger, yes? My food grinding attachment does. I think that's the best way to go.

I've never baked this for less than an hour, but maybe you can. How did it turn out?

Shira said...

So I baked it for 40 minutes and then put it back in for 2 hours. LOL! Still came out wet as you mention in your post so I let it set up for 2 days in the fridge. Came out very dense, hard crust but delicious! Still not what I was looking for. I'm thinking that the Ezekiel brand bread must dry their grains and grind into a flour to help get it the more "bread" like consistency instead of the meat loaf style. Definitely a work in progress but at least I didn't have to throw it away! Thanks for all the tips.

Bix said...

Thank you for the feedback!

Anonymous said...

Has any
one tried using a Nutri Bullet milling blade to grind the sprouted grain? I'm excited to try this recipe! Thanks. Lori

Diana Proud-Madruga said...

So, I'm making my first attempt. I have three laves in the oven right now. I used a meat grinder to grind the grains but it comes with three different sized attachments. For the first loaf, I used the smallest attachment. I had also sprouted (or attempted to sprout) lentils, rice, chia seeds, millet, and amaranth. The lentils sprouted quite nicely and the chia seeds a little, nothing else. Regardless, I decided to just grind everything together (except the chia) using the small attachment.
The last loaf I used the medium attachment, just wheat.
I used the stuff from inside the grinder after the second loaf and fried it in coconut oil. Quite tasty!

Diana Proud-Madruga said...

My apologies if this ends up being a duplicate post...
So, I'm trying this out for the first time. I have three loaves in the oven right now. The meat grinder that I used to grind the grains has three attachments so I used the smallest one for the first two loaves. The first loaf is just wheat. The second is wheat with a bunch of other things that I tried to sprout, amaranth, millet, brown rice, lentils, and chia. Only the lentils and some of the chia actually sprouted but I decided to use everything else anyway. After the second loaf, I cleaned out the grinder, saving anything left inside, and switched to the medium attachment. The third loaf is just wheat again with the medium blade.
I used what was left in the grinder after the second loaf, flattened it out and fried it in coconut oil. Quite tasty.

Bix said...

3 loaves at once! That's throwing yourself into it. Interesting that so many grains didn't sprout. I wonder why ...

It looks like a meat grinder is the way to go. Maybe I'll take a photo of the size holes on mine.

It's getting warm here in Philadelphia and my sprouts are really taking off. I've had to keep rinsing them with cold water to slow them down ... or the loaf is wet and mushy.

By the way, once or twice when I didn't have time to cook it when it as done sprouting I put the sprouts into the refrigerator to stop the process. It really just slowed it. But it bought me about a day, more than that and they get slimy.

Diana Proud-Madruga said...

My apologies if this ends up being a duplicate post...
So, I'm trying this out for the first time. I have three loaves in the oven right now. The meat grinder that I used to grind the grains has three attachments so I used the smallest one for the first two loaves. The first loaf is just wheat. The second is wheat with a bunch of other things that I tried to sprout, amaranth, millet, brown rice, lentils, and chia. Only the lentils and some of the chia actually sprouted but I decided to use everything else anyway. After the second loaf, I cleaned out the grinder, saving anything left inside, and switched to the medium attachment. The third loaf is just wheat again with the medium blade.
I used what was left in the grinder after the second loaf, flattened it out and fried it in coconut oil. Quite tasty.

Sandy said...

What kind of food grinder. Where do I buy it?

syl said...

I am just about to grind the grains. They are a bit undersprouted, but I will just add more water. I will let you know how they go in a few hours.

sylsyl said...

I am about to grind the grains. They are a little undersprouted, so should I just add more water? I will write another comment when I am done. The sprouts dried out a little bit- I forgot to rinse them! :| Again, I will add more water.?

Bix said...

You might have to add water, but be careful. Too much water is worse than too little.

Ivan said...

Thank you for posting these instructions. I tried the recipe twice with good results. The bread tastes great but tends to fall apart easily. Here are some additional techniques that helped improve my results:

- Add a small amount of uncooked grain to the ground wheat to absorb excess moisture during baking. I added about 2 tablespoons of brown teff; amaranth and maybe millet would also work.

- After grinding the sprouted wheat, process about 1/3 of it in a blender or food processor until it becomes a thick paste. Mix with the other 2/3 of the wheat and form into a loaf.

- If wax paper is not available to line the bottom of the pot, liberally sprinkle some dry polenta/grits instead.

- When conditioning the baked loaf, wrap the cooled bread in a moist towel and then insert into a plastic bag. The additional moisture softens the crust more quickly.

woodpecker said...

If sprouting other grains like spelt/millet etc should they all be 36 hrs of sprouting or is it different with each grain?

Bix said...

It's a good question. I would imagine each grain has a personal best for sprouting time. When I use wheat and barley together, the wheat always sprouts sooner than the barley. But it doesn't affect the results.

For convenience sake, I would sprout them all together, especially if they are similar, like wheat and spelt. (I've never tried millet, let me know how it goes!)

Claus Abraham Personal BLOG said...

fantastic recipy you made there, i have just startet 3 days ago on a 28 days challenge going from meateater to vegan. So the ezikiel bread is expensive and only in special shops where i live. and i really miss the bread so after many hours of search i found yours. thank you for your big job to make this detailed recipy, now i will be gone to the shop bying the stuff and bake a bread. But gosh! 5 more days without a bread hehehe
I will make a post on my blog and make a link to your recipy.

Best regards Hammer fro

Bix said...

Hi Hammer,

The Ezekial bread is expensive, yes. And you can't find it everywhere. I'll buy a loaf sometimes and freeze it so it keeps. I only use it for toast anyway.

This recipe doesn't make anything like Ezekiel, but it's good in its own right. I hope you stick with it, it takes a few tries at first. It's unlike anything you can buy!

Good luck with your vegan diet. Meat eater to vegan overnight. That's quite a challenge!

Rujuta said...

I am planning to make this bread.I like the way you have put pictires to describe the recipe. I have a question, how do I store the essene bread? refrigerator ? I am talking about the period after bread conditioning or outside like the normal bread and how many days does it normally last?

Rujuta said...

How do you store the bread? outside like normal bread or in the fridge? Also how many days does it stay good?

Bix said...

Hi Rujuta,

I store the bread in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. I have never kept a loaf in the refrigerator longer than two weeks (we eat it!) so I don't know what would happen to it. All the time I have kept it in the refrigerator is was good, not moldy or fermenting. I guess it would if it was out at room temperature.

Rujuta said...

I tried the bread and it is so tasty, I love the caramelized flavor it naturally has, but I have a question regarding its texture? I ate small slice before putting it in the refrigerator for conditioning as you mentioned. But is it supposed to be chewy in general? because mine is very chewy and so a little tough to eat. Hopefully after conditioning it will turn out better. But it is so tasty that I dont mind eating it the way it is. I just want to confirm. Or do you think texture varies depending on the water added? I did not add water because there was enough from the residue. Or maybe it is because I fully blended to make it into doughy texture rather than leaving it a slightly cracked,as you mentioned.

Bix said...

Isn't that caramely flavor great? I love it. I still make this loaf every week.

In my first tries at making this the outside was too hard, "chewy" you might say. It was just about inedible and I almost gave up. What worked for me was making sure the loaf was wet enough, cooking it at a lower temperature (right now I'm using 275 degrees F for 3 hours), keeping it covered for those 3 hours (I use a dutch oven with the lid on), and after it cools, putting it in a plastic bag and letting it condition in the refrigerator for a few days. The conditioning part is one of the most important.

I am shocked at how soft and moist it is now, even the "crust" which isn't really a crust anymore. But still, I could never eat it right out of the oven, it's like a brick! I hope you stick with it. It's a lost art.

Rujuta said...

I made the bread already in second time already in two weeks. But this time it I made a bigger batch but it turned out too big for me alone to eat in two weeks. Can you freeze it? Is it a good idea? It is pretty moist from inside so I feel it will not last for more than two weeks, or maybe even one week.

Rujuta said...

I realized later why the crust was crust and hard because I did not use a dutch oven, So I baked it open. Second time I baked it at 250F for 3 hours. The crust was still tough but the inside is nice and moist(I hope it has to be moist? or should it be dry?) Next time I will bake it by making a covering arrangement.

Rujuta said...

Another thing why would the bread be slightly crumbly? The sides fall apart and if I try to cut the slice thin it crumbles. I literally have to cut a thick fat piece and then half it lengthwise to be able to eat it not crumbly.

Rujuta said...

Can you toast the bread? Is it okay or am I killing the nutrients by heating it in the toaster or on the stove. I usually like the bread toasted and crispy.

Rujuta said...

I had a kind of dutch oven at home, I did not know that next time I will try exactly the way you mentioned, I tried both ways by making super mashed and a little chunky I like the former more. But I hope it turns out like yours evenly caramelized from top too, Mine is just caramelized from the bottom, its probably because of the dutch oven

Bix said...

I don't think my bread could withstand the toaster. It doesn't really have structure so it wouldn't stand up in there. Although it does sound good toasted.

Bix said...

I've never frozen it, but I think it would work, and, as you say, better than the fridge if you have to hold it for more than 4 days.

I buy a commercial bread like this called Manna and they sell it in the frozen section. It takes about a day to defrost in the fridge but it's delicious. I used it as a guide when developing my own recipe. Here's their site:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful recepie. I used kamut wheat and the bread turned out to be lovely. I think the texture was good due to the longer baking. I baked at 230 F for 3.5 hours vs another receipie for 2.5 hrs. I also appreciate the tip on cooling in the oven - it think it does make a huge difference in texture. I left it to cool overnight. I keep it in a cloth (not in fridge) for 4-5 days and the flavour just gets better.