A simple approach to baking bread with sprouted flour
Sprouted grain is just that: grain that is moistened, and left to sprout. In the process of sprouting, the new plant that emerges from the grain begins to consume itself to get the energy it needs to grow. In doing so, it begins to destroy the structure of the grain. This means that bread made with sprouted grain is easier to digest because the grain from which it is made is, well, pre-digested.
Essene bread is one kind of sprouted grain bread. As I understand it, essene bread is an ancient form of bread first made by the Essenes – a Jewish group who lived from the 2 century BCE to the 1 century CE. I think the difference is that essene bread is made from sprouted grains that are ground when damp, formed into a kind of a loaf, and then baked. Regular old bread made from sprouted grains is made with sprouted grains that are dehydrated before they are milled. I tried to bake essene bread once and it tasted just like swamps so I gave up trying and continued to buy it when I was in Germany which was the only place I could find it. My seeking days are over (as are my swamp bread days) because I have found a source of excellent sprouted flour here in the UK.
Recently, Francois from Bread Link sent me some sprouted flour. I received a generous package of 1 day sprouted rye, 1 day sprouted wheat and barley, “Amish sprouted flour ” (4 day sprouted spelt, azuki, and millet), and “Essene sprouted flour” (4 day sprouted wheat, spelt, and rye). To prepare for the Weston Priceconference in London, where I met Francois and gave a talk on sourdough baking, and to satisfy my curiosity, I got down to work straight away with the 1 day sprouted rye, the Amish sprouted flour and the Essene sprouted flour.
I made the bread out of the rye flour in the same way I would make any other rye bread and the result was a disaster which goes to show that sometimes it’s useful to get some expert guidance before starting a new project.
I made the bread out of the Essene sprouted flour and the Amish sprouted flour in exactly the same way as each other and they were a triumph! Beautiful to behold with a delicious flavour.
The thing to remember is that sprouted grain has a very weak gluten structure due to the sprouting. It does rise but it will not cook through if it is baked conventionally in a tin. The sprouted rye was liquid in the centre whereas its non sprouted counterpart was baked perfectly. The option (if you were determined to bake in a tin) would be to lower the temperature to about 180 and bake it for a couple of hours, like a cake, testing it with a skewer to check for done-ness. The easier option (and what I did with the Amish and the Essene) is to rise the bread in a proofing basket, turn it over onto a baking tray and bake it. What surprised me (and it is a tip to leave plenty of room on the baking tray) is that, although the little Essene and Amish loaves held their shape when I rolled them out of their baking trays, they flattened, rather than rose in the oven! The texture, however, is not biscuit-like, nor dry: The insides of the loaves are moist with a pretty honeycombing and a light texture. Small they may be, brick like they are not.
A lovely lady at the conference commented that she felt the bread sat completely differently in her tummy. Ordinarily incredibly sensitive to all grains – to the point of having to avoid them – this lady felt no ill effects from the bread made with the Amish flour, and indeed felt it to be beneficial and totally comfortable to digest. Delicious, nutritious and easy to digest = RESULT!
I am by no means an expert, and look forward to continuing my experimentation, so if you are interested in knowing more from an expert, contact Francois at Bread Link and he will be delighted to answer all your questions, I am sure. For the recipes – both sourdough and non sourdough – click here for sprouted rye bread, and here for sprouted amish or essene bread. Please note, these recipes were formulated with Bread Link’s flour and the result will most certainly be different with different brands of flour.