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The wheat berry experiment

June 8, 2010

Happy Monday!  Some weekends go by so fast I can hardly remember the space between now and Friday afternoon 😦  wouldn’t it be nice to have 3 days instead?  Yesterday Steve took Josee to the Alberta Museum while Alex and I decided that it was far too nice outside for that kind of torture (Museums are not my thing:) so we instead took Daisy to the river and walked the trails for a while. The trails along the river are great for biking or walking and there are certain areas where you can walk with your dog unleashed.  Edmonton is a very dog friendly city with 40 dog parks (now I sound like a tourism add).   It’s just funny now that I search out these new weekend hobbies being a relatively new dog owner – whoda thunk!That’s a face.   Now back to food!  I haven’t made bread since we left Montreal, not because it’s difficult but it just takes so much time between prep, rising and baking that you need to be home the whole time.  I love making bread and I think this comes from watching my mother make it at Christmas and  having the fresh-baked bread smell ingrained in my senses.  People don’t make bread at home much anymore and that’s a shame because there’s something therapeutic about it.  You start with a few simple ingredients and end up with a loaf of bread that cannot be compared to anything store-bought and it always surprises me when it turns out perfectly!  There’s nothing more disappointing than spending 1/2 a day making it and it doesn’t rise!  After many years of practice though this never happens to me…..anymore that is!    The art of baking bread takes practice and I have complete respect for bread artisans who have mastered everything from the kneading to the exact feel of the dough.     No bread machines (ugh) and no huge tasteless, over risen white loaves here, only whole grain, seedy, dense loaves for me.  Today I’m committed and I also have no choice because a pile of sprouted seeds await me.  These have been working hard in the sprout bag for 3 days and if I wait any longer they could get moldy.      Normally I make a grain loaf using Red river cereal or some other 9 grain mix but today I wanted to experiment a bit and try out the Ezekiel thing.    Here is my recipe that I’ve tweaked over the years.

In a mixer or large bowl (I love my kitchenaid but I’ve made plenty without it) add 2 1/4 cups warm water (I use almost hot water)

To your water add 4 tbsp white or brown sugar, 4 tbsp olive or canola oil and 2 tsp of salt.  Stir gently until sugar dissolves.  To the same bowl add 3 cups of white flour, 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 4 tsp of yeast and finally 2 cups of grains or a sprout mix.

Stir this until combined and begin kneading until the dough ‘fights back’.  By this I mean it forms a ball and becomes hard to work with and when you stick your finger in it, the dough immediately bounces back.

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Put your bowl someplace dark and warm. I just turn on the oven to 350 for maybe 2 min and then turn it off, this leaves it just warm enough and the oven is perfect because it’s dark and sealed shut with no drafts.   You can also just cover your bowl with a towel and place in a cupboard.

Let this rise until almost double its size….maybe 1 to 1 1/2 hrs.    When it’s done, take it out of the bowl and divide the dough in half.  Roll each 1/2 into a flat square being gentle not to over work the dough.

Roll the dough into a ‘tube’ and fold the ends under and seal by squeezing together.  Place this seam side down into 2 well oiled bread pans.

And again, cover with the same plastic wrap and start the rising procedure over.

After about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs it’s time to turn the oven on to 350 and bake your bread!  Remember that this is a dense, hearty loaf of bread so it will only rise so much.  (don’t forget to remover the plastic wrap)

The finished loaves came out perfect!  The sprouts added a nice chewy texture to the bread unlike the crunchy nuttier texture grains leave.   I always let the bread cool before slicing (if you can wait!) so that it doesn’t fall apart and get squished, then I freeze the 2nd loaf.    I think this is best served toasted with some kind of nut butter.    This is well worth the effort and I promise that you will never eat store-bought again once you taste your own home-made bread!   Next……cinnamon raisin bread like you’ve never tasted…..

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