Kamut Grain going into the grinder
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been making our bread for several years now. I am totally convinced of the advantages of baking with whole grains over processed white flour (though I still use white flour now and then). We are blessed to not have any food allergies in our family, so far. So I currently have the ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ approach to baking. Buying breads from the store is good (better than starving, right?). Making bread with white flour is better than store bought – no preservatives, high fructose corn syrups and other un-pronouncable ingredients. And then making breads from whole grains that have been freshly ground and soaked in either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is best – by far.
Sue Gregg has produced a set of cookbooks that are phenomenal. Reading through them is the equivalent to taking a college course on nutrition! In her book An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking, she has some really interesting and helpful information and charts regarding grain. I personally had no idea how much nutrition is found in a kernel of grain – fat, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, choline, folic acid, pantothenic acid, vitamin E, chromium, manganese, selenium, zinc, iron, cobalt, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, molybdenum, copper and fiber. This definitely points me to an awesome creator God, for sure!! But white flour is milled grain that has had the bran and germ removed (as well as the fiber, calcium and B-vitamins, to name just a few). The end product has an average nutritional loss of 70% over whole grains! Not to mention that “white flour breaks down just like sugar in our bodies and can lead to many of the same problems as sugar.” So having said all that…I want to share my whole grain bread recipe with you!
Oat groats before being rolled into oatmeal
Oatmeal coming out of the grain mill, using the roller attachment
Bread is truly a staple of life – at least at our house. From French toast, toast with eggs, sandwiches, grilled cheese, to bread crumbs and croutons, we eat a lot of bread. It is a quick, simple and nutritious way to get breakfast and lunch on the table. And it is a yummy side with soups and salads for dinner. I make four loaves of whole grain bread at a time and freeze three of them in our deep freeze. They last us about 3-4 weeks. So though there is a bit of time involved in making the bread (though the longer I’ve made it the quicker it goes), I usually only have to think about it once a month. This is a small task for the large benefit that it brings to my family’s nutrition.
I buy my grain (and sugar) in 25-50 pound bags from my local buying club. I store it in 5-gallon plastic buckets, making it convenient to refill my smaller kitchen storage jars. The grains I typically have on hand are Kamut, Hard Red Wheat, Spelt, Oat Groats and Soft Pastry Wheat. I have a Jupiter grain mill that I purchased several years ago, again from our local buying club (hard to beat the bulk pricing that comes from lots of local people getting together!). It grinds grain and rolls my oats. This was definitely one of the best purchases we have ever made in regards to healthy eating! It has ground hundreds of pounds of grain and is still going strong. There are many benefits of freshly ground grain as opposed to flour that has sat on a shelf for months. Freshly ground grain spoils about as fast as milk that is left out, so it must be refrigerated or frozen if not used immediately.
Jupiter grain mill
I mentioned that I try to soak my freshly ground grain in an acid. So much has been written about this – so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Here is one resource in regards to this topic:
“Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening “pre-digests” grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors.1 These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.32 All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive. Sally Fallon – Nourishing Traditions
I can assure you that the more you do a task, the easier it becomes. And in the case of bread baking – the better it turns out.:-) I had so many ‘flops’ in the beginning. But now I consistently am able to produce four beautiful loaves every time! There is obviously a little more to whole grain bread making than I’ve had time to mention here (or that you would want to read in one post). Please let me know if you have questions! There are so many resources out there to help. Here is another resource that I have found to be helpful.
Dough that has doubled in size
Soaked Grain Whole Wheat Bread
Recipe originally from Passionate Homemaking
Yield: 4 loaves
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3 cups water
11 cups ground flour, Kamut, Spelt, Hard Winter Wheat
2 cups rolled oats, not quick-cooking
1 cup raw honey
3/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
1/4 cup raw millet (though Adam is not a fan of this I just learned)
1/4 cup flax seeds or chia seeds (I usually leave out – I’ve gotten mixed information about flax)
Soak the above for 12-24 hours
1/2 cup water, 115-120 degrees
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
2-1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup unbleached white flour, if necessary
3 tablespoons dough enhancer, (optional)
sunflower seeds, optional (I never add)
1. After soaking the first 9 ingredients for 12-24 hours, activate the yeast by combining the warm water, 1 teaspoon of honey, yeast and baking soda. After activating the yeast (this will take about 3-5 minutes. It will become bubbly and rise), combine it with the soaked flour mixture and add the salt, dough enhancer (I purchased mine through Pleasant HIll Grain Company) and remaining flour, if needed. You can use freshly ground whole wheat flour as well, in place of the white flour.
2. Knead for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until gluten is fully developed (bread will be like elastic). Remove to a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let sit in a warmed place (I use my oven, with the light on and heated just for 1 minute and then turned off) until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down and divide into 4 loaves. Roll out with a rolling pin into a rectangle and roll up into a loaf (this makes perfectly shaped loaves with no air bubbles).
3. Place in greased bread pans and let rise again until doubled (about 30-45 minutes).
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it is fully browned on all sides. Remove from oven, rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans.
5. Cover with waxed paper to cool and keep soft.