Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whole Wheat and Sprouted Grain Bread

The first time I ever sprouted seeds (mung beans to be exact) was for a Biology experiment in High School.  It amazed me to see how these seemingly lifeless grains suddenly awaken to new life with just a mere soak in water.  Fifteen years later, seeing this transformation is still incredible to me and I felt like a kid again doing a fun science experiment in the kitchen.  

Leftover sprouted grains
This bread, from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, calls for sprouting your own grain(I used hard red spring wheat berries) by soaking them in 2 parts filtered water for 12 to 24 hours (I only did about 14 hours).  After soaking, they are then drained and rinsed and placed back in the container and covered with a cheesecloth until they show signs of sprouting.  The key is to let them sprout until you see a small tail which could take a few hours or as long as a few days (in some cases) but in my case, it only took a few hours for this to happen.  The grains above have actually sprouted more than what was required in the recipe but they still worked for the bread and what's important is that they are still full of nutrients and enzymes (which is what sprouting grain is all about).  Once this is achieved, you will have to grind them in either a food processor or meat grinder/food mill.  I used the food processor but I ground them in batches as PR warned that grinding the grains too long in the FP could generate heat and trigger too much enzyme activity.  I think I prevented this from happening by just pulsing them until finely ground and at the same time, the grains just came out of the fridge so they were below room temperature when I started grinding them.

The recipe actually makes use of vital wheat gluten so I didn't have to make the decision to add it on my own.  One of the reasons for the VWG is that the sprouted wheat might have weaker gluten development because the ground grains have sharp edges that could tear the the gluten formation of the dough.  The VWG merely reinforces these connections so you will end up with a good rise and a light loaf.

This bread is absolutely wonderful and I love the nutty bits that the wheat kernels give.  I was expecting this bread to be somewhat dense but it's not that way at all -- It's very light and fluffy.  My only complaint is the chewiness of the crust which I think can be remedied by brushing it with melted butter as soon as it comes out of the oven.

*Submitting this post to YeastSpotting*


  1. Sprouting your own grain. How exciting!!! I've always wanted to try that but got a little scared when I heard stories of mold and such. It sounds like what you did was in a short enough time frame that it wouldn't even have time mold. I'm gonna have to try it. Your loaf looks beautiful, as well as the bread's crumb. It looks light and fluffy indeed :o)

  2. Thanks Hanaa! You should try it too...very healthy and fun to do! I think it's important to really drain the grains and cover them with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer so there will still be air circulating inside to avoid condensation which could lead to molding. I made the mistake of covering it with a plastic lid the first few hours and there was condensation build up inside but when I removed it and replaced it with the cheesecloth, that's when they started sprouting :-)

  3. I can't wait to try this recipe! I love Peter Reinhart's recipes, and a fluffy whole grain bread is a dream come true.

    1. You should try this recipe Leslie! Sprouting grains is such a fun thing to do and I find all of the loaf breads that I've made so far in his Whole Grains book to be really light and fluffy! You wouldn't believe that they're 100% whole grain! :-)