Sprouting Grains

Sprouted and ready to store in the freezer.

I’ve been sprouting spelt for the last 9 months to grind to make our bread each week. I was so intimidated by the idea when I started. And I really couldn’t find any reliable information or consistent techniques online. But, now that I have it figured out….. it’s so easy! There’s really nothing to it. Once you have it worked into your routine, you can easily sprout a batch ahead, and always benefit from the additional nutrition that sprouting makes accessible to your body in your breads and baked goods.

Easy Steps to Sprouting Grain:

(These steps work with any grain.)

  1. Soak your grain in a large bowl overnight, or for about 10-12 hours.
  2. Drain into a mesh colander and rinse.
  3. Return the drained grain to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel.
  4. Rinse every 6-12 hours, depending on how fast it dries out until you see little tails at the tips of each seed.
  5. Spread on your dehydrator and dehydrate 110-120 degrees (I usually do 115) until the grain is hard and cannot be indented when pressed upon by the end of your fingernail.
  6. Store in sealed mason jars in the freezer if you don’t plan to grind your grain within 2 days.

That’s it! Give it a try. Sprouted grain makes a softer flour, is easier to grind than unsprouted, and I think makes lighter baked goods.

Unsprouted spelt berries.

Cover with water and soak for 12 hours.

 

Sprouted. See the tiny tails on the tip of each seed?

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Before dehydrating.

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After dehydrating.

Dehydrated and ready to go in the grain mill.

In the mill. About to become flour.

Compare: Left – after dehydrating, Right – before dehydrating.

Fresh Bread – Step by Step

img_0070I’ve been so blessed to be able to make my family delicious loaves of bread like this the past year.

Here are some step by step photos if you want to try too.

First you need a cute helper like this. She makes the job much more fun and is a hard little worker. She would make her great-great grandma Maggie proud. She stirs with determination until all the flour is added.

To get to this point however, you need a big bowl, wooden spoon, 2 tsp of Active Dry Yeast, 1 tbls of sweetener like sugar or honey to give the yeast a boost, and 1 cup of warm water. Not hot or you’ll kill the yeast. Body temp is best. Stir to moisten the yeast (that’s what she is doing) and then set the spoon aside and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it is bubbly and foamy. This is called proofing your yeast. This is how you know that it is active and alive.

The photo below shows what the yeast will look like once it has been proofed. Nice and foamy with some bubbles.

Now you start adding your flour. You can use whole wheat, white whole wheat, all purpose, or any combination of those. I like to use spelt with a little all purpose mixed in.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour of your choice on top of your proofed yeast and water mix, but do not stir. Then sprinkle 1-2 tsp of salt on top of the sprinkled flour. Then add 1 tbls of oil. I like olive oil. Now stir all that up. Add more flour 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture is no longer gooey and the dough starts to hold together, pull away and clean the sides of the bowl. It will be messy and sticky at first, but will soon start to form a smooth ball.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface. Knead gently adding as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to your kneading surface and your fingers.

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Knead, keeping the outer skin of the dough as smooth as possible, until you feel less resistance in the dough and it starts to feel silky when you push it away. Once you reach this point, stop and pull off a strawberry sized hunk of dough. Flour it and gently begin to stretch it in all directions to see if you can stretch it thin enough to see light through the fibers of the dough without it tearing. If it tears easily, then you need to knead some more. This is called the “Window Pane Test.” If it stretches thin enough and doesn’t tear, and you can see light through then you know you have kneaded enough.

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Now, oil your mixing bowl and return your dough to the bowl, cover with a damp dish towel, and let it rise. You know it has finished rising when you can poke two fingers into the dough about 1/2″ and the indentations stay. Once it has risen to this point, you are ready to throw and shape your loaves.

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This is also a good time to liberally butter your loaf pan.

Remove your dough from the bowl and gently roll and shape it into a rough log shape. On a sturdy surface, throw your dough down on the table to remove any air bubbles. Really slam it down hard. You should hear a good hard slapping sound when it hits the table top. Do this 5-7 times. Then reshape your dough into a log shape just slightly shorter than your loaf pan.

These are my loaves after shaping.

Cover the loaf with a damp dish towel and let it rise until it reaches the tops of your loaf pan. The loaves below are finished rising and ready to go in the oven.

Put the loaves into a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees. Cook for 25-30 minutes until browned well on top. They should also be browned well on the inside of the pan. Another test to be sure that they are finished cooking is to remove them from the pan and thump the center of the bottom of the loaf. It should sound hollow. These loaves are cooked nicely.

Remove from the pans to cool immediately after removing from the oven.

Let the loaves cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.

Enjoy with butter and your favorite jam.

The Benefits of Baking Day

I have a page in the “Kitchen” on my blog called “Baking Day.” In it I wax poetic thinking of Ma Ingalls and my great-grandmother, Maggie, working in their kitchens. I imagine them in their vintage aprons, leaning over their wooden kitchen tables, kneading their bread. They have flour dust on their faces from swiping back the wisps of hair from their faces that have fallen down.

Not many people have a baking day anymore. Each day is much the same as another, running from one errand or activity to another. But, for the last 2 years or so, Saturday has become my baking day. I often will go grocery shopping in the morning, and spend the rest of the day cooking. It’s exhausting but rewarding. Sometimes it’s hectic. Especially when we have another activity that day that cuts into my baking time. But, I’m learning to guard my time on Saturdays as much as possible. That time in the kitchen is valuable to me. And it can be quite pleasant. If the kids are outside, I can sing, listen to music, listen to a podcast, or just get lost in my own thoughts. The kitchen is a good place for that. I’m finding that between technology, daily appointments, and the responsibility of teaching and caring for the kids (all of which have their place in life), I don’t have enough of that quiet time in my head.

Baking day helps me be well prepared for my week. On a typical baking day, I produce a lot of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and sometimes dinner prep that help me survive Monday through Friday when I just don’t have the time to devote to the kitchen. Below are some photos of what I typically make. Would a baking day make your life easier? I’m finding that I really do need mine.

Sprouted Spelt Bread

Banana chocolate chip muffins.

Snacks for the week.

Sprouted spelt waffles for breakfast.

Granola for hubby’s breakfast.

Elderberry herbal syrup.

Fresh Bread Out of the Oven

I’ve been honing my bread making skills this last year. Follow my bread making journey by reading the latest on the Baking Day page.

Just can’t beat freshly baked sprouted spelt bread and raspberry jam.