by Heather Harris Brady
On a weekly basis my husband will happily shell out $5 a loaf for what the rest of us have come to call “woodpecker bread” – a term coined by my son who said that if woodpeckers ran a bread factory this is the kind of bread they would make – chuck full of seeds and good health. It is, in fact, sprouted grain bread. There lots of online research you can do on sprouted grains, but basically, the act of sprouting frees up a lot of nutrients that are now easier for the body to absorb. You can mix up the grains for sprouting, and add other things like flax seeds, sesame, whatever strikes your fancy.
I’m actually a little surprised it’s taken me this long to get around to making it myself, given my lifelong Laura Ingalls Wilder penchant. You need a weekend and two pounds of wheat to take on this project – so get’s started!
Step One: The sprouting
- Two lbs. wheat kernals
- Two quart glass jars with tops
Take two pounds of whole wheat kernals, sometimes called wheat berries. They might look like this, or this. Wash them well and divide them between two quart canning jars. Put the top on and put them under the cupboard. Rinse them every twelve hours. They’re ready to use when each one sends out a tiny white shoot, like so:
In my room-temperature house this took a full 24 hours. If they sprout before you’re ready to bake, put them in the fridge otherwise – continue on!
Step Two: Making the dough
- 1/3 c. honey or granulated sugar
- 1 pkg. fast-rising yeast
- 1-1/3 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 T. salt
- 3 T. olive oil
- Sprouted wheat from step one
Rinse the wheat and dump it (you can only work with one jar at a time) into your food processor. Process for about two minutes, until it’s finely chopped.
Put it into a large mixing bowl and stir in everything but the olive oil.
Put half the batch in the food processor. Add half the flour and half the olive oil, process to a thick dough. Repeat with the other half of the wheat.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Knead for about five minutes. It’s a little rough at first, then it gets better. Resist the urge to add a lot of flour, or your finished loaf will be dry.
Put it in a bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch it down. (I got carried away and almost forgot to take a picture.)
Divide it in half. Roll each half out and roll it back up jelly-roll style. Put it in a greased loaf pan. Repeat for the other half.
Again, let rise until doubled. Preheat the oven to 350.
When the dough reaches the top of the pan it’s ready.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until nicely browned. I brush the tops with butter.
Turn them out on a rack and cover them with a tea towel. When they’re cool wrap them in plastic and store the bread in the refrigerator.
When it’s cool it slices nicely. The bread is definitely more substantial than what most people are probably used to, but it has a nice toothsome chew with lots of flavor.
It’s good for sandwiches, or just on its own with a schmear of something. It makes two loaves, which is two weeks’ worth in our house. It’s definitely worth a go if you like whole grain breads. It tastes a lot better than store loaves.