I have had very limited experience with sprouts. They’re usually stringy green things that restaurants put on sandwiches or salads. Sometimes I eat them; usually, I pick them off. I’m not a fan of the peppery taste of, what to my limited imagination, was all sprouts.
It turns out there are many types of sprouts. Last week in our CSA bundle from Five Points Community Farm Market, we had a choice of those stringy sprouts, several different flavored varieties, and wheat berries.
I’ve only ever had wheat berries on a salad at a very nice restaurant at the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach (read article I wrote about it here): I was served smoked salmon over a wheat berry salad, which was lovely. But I bought home my little container of wheat berries, and I put them in the fridge, and we had a week-long stand-off. I had no idea what to make with them. They sprouted a white, whispy tail, which I’m happy to say is completely normal and desirable. And finally, yesterday, I declared my resolution: wheat berry bread.
Wheat berries are the entire wheat kernel – a whole grain, to be sure. If you were to mill wheat berries, you would get whole wheat flour, but in its whole state, wheat berries look a bit like grains of rice. They are unprocessed wheat kernels, so none of the nutritional value has been stripped away, which means you are getting lots of fiber, protein, and iron. Wheat berries are often used on salads or in bread to give it an extra crunch.
There are many different ways to make wheat berry bread. Many of the recipes called for milk, which is a wasteful purchase in my house. My roommates and I strictly go for soy milk because we have varying degrees of lactose intolerance or dislike. I didn’t want to have to buy milk, use a cup of it, and wait for the rest of it to get old enough to throw away.
I found the following recipe on a Google search for sprouted wheat berry bread. It doesn’t call for any fussy ingredients, but it’s definitely the weirdest bread-making process I’ve ever encountered. I’ve included photos of how the dough looked at various stages in the process. One reviewer on the recipe said that she was always dubious that the bread would actually turn out right because it looked weird; hopefully, photos like the ones below will be a helpful showing of solidarity in the stages of bizarre-looking dough.
Sprouted Wheat Berry Bread
- 2 (1 tablespoon) packages active dry yeast
- [I added a teaspoon of sugar to the water to give the yeast something to snack on. That wasn’t in the original recipe.]
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 3 1/2 cups white flour (unbleached is best)
- 2 cups wheat berry sprouts, coarsely chopped
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
Sprinkle the yeast over 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast. Add the remaining water, salt, honey and oil. Mix well.
Stir in white flour and beat dough by hand or with a dough hook in an electric mixer until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Stir in the wheat berry sprouts and just enough whole wheat flour to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead, with more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. [This dough takes awhile to come together and start looking like the bread dough we’re used to. Just keep working in flour until it gets to a point where you can handle it and knead without it sticking too much.]
Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease to of dough; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
Grease 2 9×5-inch loaf pans. Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead briefly.
Divide in 2, shape into loaves and place in pans. Cover and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. [The recipe actually yields about three loaves, but you can try for two large ones.]
Preheat oven to 375°F
Bake loaves 25 minutes. Lower oven heat to 300*F. and bake 35 more minutes, or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when turned out and tapped. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy!
Wheat berry bread tastes like a grainy whole wheat bread, but the addition of regular white bread flour keeps it from being too dense or heavy. The wheat berries lend a little crunch to the bread, which has a lovely soft interior, and a crisp, crunchy crust. Enjoy with butter, or as I did this morning, slathered with peanut butter and Nutella.