In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sprouting barley...

No, I'm not getting into beer or whiskey-making, but I did start sprouting some barley a few days ago, and plan to make sourdough bread with it.
I did try this once a while back, but I did not grind the sprouted barley, resulting in a loaf of bread with some rather hard chewy nuggets that could potentially have dislodged a small child's loose tooth!
Soooo -- this time I'm planning to grind up the sprouted grains BEFORE adding them to the dough!

Two days ago I started soaking 1 c of barley, expecting it to take several days until it's ready
Today there are definite white tails on the barley, and since I'm itching to try this recipe, I'm going ahead (but it probably could have gone on sprouting into a third day).

I found a recipe for a modified "Essene" or sprouted spelt grain bread, and here's what it recommends for sprouting:

Sprouting the Grain
Soak the spelt grain for 12 hours in two litres of water. Drain off the water, rinse, pour off the water, then lay the jar on its side so that the water can drain out. Rinse 2 - 3 times per day for 1 - 3 days. The weather will determine how long you sprout and how often you need to rinse. You need to make sure that the sprouts do not dry out and that they do not grow bacteria or mould. The sprouts are ready when the rootlets are about 1-2 mm long. If you sprout the grain for too long then they may become woody.

PS: I've read elsewhere that you want to keep them in the dark once sprouting -- does anybody know if that's true for all species, or only wheat?!?!

Meanwhile, the search is on for a recipe.

Besides the Essene bread from above (which calls for 2 c grain sprouted, 2 c flour, 1/2 c sourdough, 2 T coconut oil, salt and water), I also found this very promising recipe on a blog called Cook.Eat.Think. for making sprouted grain bread in a breadmachine-- judging from the picture and recipe, this looks pretty perfect! And it turns out, this is Denise, who's Mom in Madison blog I've been following after I discovered her thru Mountainpulse! I sure am excited to read more of Denise's cooking blog...

I do want to add sourdough to the recipe, however, so I'm making modifications. Also, since I've lately done a lot better with bread-baking by hand (without using my Kitchenaide), I plan to make a sponge, knead by hand, and make it an old-fashioned 2-day event.

So here's my game plan for

Sourdough sprouted grain bread

1 c grains to sprout (this time it's barley, but could use a mix of many other grains*)

1 tsp active yeast dissolved in 1 c warm milk

1 c sourdough starter, freshly fed

approx 3 c whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur, but occasionally I get freshly ground Montana wheat from the Natural Pantry -yummy!) Optional, add 1-2 T of gluten -- to help it rise.

1-2 Tbsp sweetener (sugar, honey, molasses, or malt syrup)
2+ Tbsp oil or butter (I wonder why so many sprouted grain recipes call for coconut oil???)
1-2 tsp salt


Place the freshly fed sourdough into a big bowl and let it rise in a warm place for several hours, until it's good and bubbly.

Dissolve yeast in warm milk, feed with about 1/2 c flour and let it sit and form a sponge before adding to the sourdough.

Drain as much water from sprouted grains as possible, then chop them up in a food processor (if need a liquid, add some of the sourdough). Add this and the remaining ingredients to the sponge, stirring with spoon until no longer feasible, then transfer to counter and knead. It will be sticky -- keep adding flour until it stays together and "behaves".

Give it 2 risings, with an optional "retard" (place in frig overnight, covered w/ plastic film). Next day, take the dough out and let it come to room temperature.

Punch and knead, form into loaves, and let rise until double.
Bake at 375 for 45 min or so.

Notes from today:
I used 1 T molasses, melted 2 T butter, and did not use any additional gluten (and it did not seem to need it, either). I did not start with very warm milk, so the yeast did not get a roaring start, which I think is probably a good thing -- don't want to over-rise this bread! The food-processor still left some good-sized pieces of sprouted barley-- let's see if it bothers the the bread-eating masses (I may need to grind it better next time, using a spatula to get everything and processing it again and again!)

I did not do the "retard". I started making the sponge at 2pm, let it rise twice, then formed loaves around 5:30pm. Baked it at 6:30 (with steam in first 10 minutes), and was done around 7:15pm.
We ate some for dessert, not being able to wait until breakfast -- it looked so good (at first I did not want to cut into it -- you're supposed to wait -- but they charmed me with compliments like "Mom, you make the best bread in Eagle River valley, Please, can we have some?", so I gave in!)
It tasted really good, but alas, the grains were not ground up enough -- and every other bite we found ourselves chewing down on one of those kernels! GOTTA GRIND IT BETTER!!!
Now my husband tells me he still has his grain grinder from his beer-making days -- what wonderful news! I wonder how long he was going to hold out before telling the best bread-baker in Eagle River Valley!!!

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