In The Sourdough School: The Ground-Breaking Guide to Making Gut-Friendly Bread by Vanessa Kimble, readers will learn to master the art of sourdough from the expert herself. Kimble uses the teachings from her renowned Sourdough School in a brilliant compilation of easy-to-follow instructions and stunning photography. Readers of all experience levels can try their hand at the timeless craft of artisan baking with this indispensable guide. The following excerpt is from Chapter 4, "Ingredients."
To understand sprouting, it helps to visualize what is happening inside a seed. Once you start the germinating process by providing warmth and moisture, the dormant seed starts to become a live plant. It changes both inside and out, so, when you eat that seed, you're no longer eating just a seed, you're eating a tiny plant.
Soaking helps reduce the fat content, which also helps convert the dense protein in the seed to simpler amino acids that are easier to digest. The enzymes are activated, and kick in to break down the complex carbohydrates into simpler glucose molecules.
Why sprout grains?
Sprouted grains are plump, and have an irresistible texture, sort of knobbly, and a sweet flavor. They add a moistness to bread that cannot be replicated by any other ingredient.
Sprouting grains also significantly increases their nutritional and bioactive content — especially the vitamin B content, particularly of B2, B5, and B6 — as well as improving palatability. In addition, germinated grains contain substantial amounts of total phenolics, and rye has significantly higher content compared to non-germinated grains. These phenolics help reduce the risk of diabetic agents and cancers, including colon cancer.
If you have a particularly sensitive digestion, I recommend you sprout all your seeds, including sprouting and drying the ones you use to roll on the outside of your bread.
How to sprout
You can sprout any grain, and there are several ways to use them, including:
- Directly in the bread — I add between 15 and 25 percent of the weight of the flour. Using more is fine, but the dough can get heavy. Either put in a blender and turn into a mash, or use whole.
- To make malt powder:
- First rinse the grains, and then soak them overnight in a bowl of cold water, using double the weight of water to grains. The grains will roughly double in size.
- After soaking, drain and rinse well, but don't touch the grains, as this can transfer unwelcome bacteria on to them — use a clean spoon instead. Put in a clear glass jar, cover with a piece of cheesecloth, and secure with string or a rubber band. Leave to stand at room temperature for 48-72 hours, away from direct sunlight. The grains need oxygen, so if they look too packed together, lift them using a clean fork to aerate. Rinse them once a day with fresh water.
- When your shoots are slightly smaller than the grains, the sprouts are ready to use either directly into your bread, or to make malt. Occasionally you will need to rinse and drain them before drying, as they will have developed a cheesy smell if they have been too closely packed together. Once dried, you can refrigerate them for a few days, but I find it is best to use them immediately.
For many of the same reasons that we sprout grains, we also sprout seeds. Nuts also benefit from overnight soaking before use. These are some of my favorite seeds to sprout.
- Amaranth: Although often referred to as a grain, this is the seed from a flowering plant. It is gluten-free and contains three times the average calcium of other grains. The bioactive peptides in amaranth (called lunasin) have been shown to have cancer-preventative benefits, and anti-hypertensive properties.
- Flax: High in omega-3 fatty acids, these seeds are also a good source of protein and fiber.
- Sesame: Quite possibly my favorite seed. They are a great source of iron, vitamin B1, zinc, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds also contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, which have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect.
- Pumpkin: These are packed full of nutrients, providing substantial quantities of healthy fats, magnesium, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E, which can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals and many different diseases.
More from The Sourdough School:
- Bread-Making Basics: Getting Started on Your Sourdough
- Malting Grain to Boost Your Sourdough
- Russian Rye Bread Using Excess Sourdough Starter
- Herb Butter with Wild Garlic Recipe
- Chocolate and Roasted Hazelnut Bread
Excerpted from The Sourdough School, by Vanessa Kimble © 2018. Published by Kyle Books, and photographs © Nassima Rothacker. No images may be used, in print or electronically, without consent from the publisher.