Amp Up Your Bread With Sprouted Grains and Multigrains

Make homemade bread even more nutritious and tasty by adding a variety of whole and sprouted grains, including nutrient-dense sprouted wheat.

| December 2012/January 2013

Homemade bread has everything going for it: It tastes better than store-bought; it’s cheaper; and it’s better for you. Mill your own flour from wheat berries, and you’ll bump up both nutrition and flavor. But if you really want to make great bread, add sprouted grains or a variety of flavorful whole grains.

Our master recipe for Homemade Whole-Grain Bread is infinitely adaptable. Increase the healthfulness of a single loaf of bread significantly by swapping out some of the flour in the ingredients list for a variety of cooked, uncooked or sprouted seeds, nuts and grains — including sprouted wheat berries.

Get Your Sprout On

Sprouted-grain breads taste fuller and more complex. Bread chemistry expert Emily Buehler, author of Bread Science, says sprouted breads have a longer keeping quality and a pleasantly subtle sweetness. Fermentation expert Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, explains how this works: “The main difference in using sprouted grains [versus flour] is that enzymes digest complex carbohydrates (starches) into simple carbohydrates (sugars). This makes bread sweeter and more easily digestible,” he says. In addition to added nutrition, sprouted grains contribute acidity to the final dough, which contributes flavor and acts as a natural preservative.

You may be familiar with some store-bought brands of sprouted bread, such as Ezekiel, which are usually kept in the freezer section. The famous Essene Bread recipe is another variation of sprouted-wheat dough. (Find the recipe in How to Make Sprouted Grain Bread: The Essene Whole Grain Bread Recipe.)

To sprout wheat berries, soak them in room-temperature water overnight. About 8 hours later, drain the water and rinse the berries thoroughly. Continue rinsing two to three times per day for the next couple of days. Sprout tails should emerge within a day or two. The sprouts are ready as soon as the tails emerge. When they reach a quarter-inch long, you may refrigerate them for up to a few days. Katz recommends sprouting grains in small quantities so they will be distributed well in your container and thus maintain good oxygen access. He also suggests frequent rinsing.

Do not put wet sprouts into a mill intended for dry grains. Grind the grains in a food processor (good option), with a mortar and pestle (exhausting option) or a meat grinder (best option). Don’t be dismayed by the appearance of your ground sprouts. They’ll be thick, gluey and unappetizing, but they’ll contribute to bread structure and flavor. Any leftover, unground sprouts will make a nice addition to salads.

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