Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bread Baking Babes Bootcamp

Being invited to be a Bread Baking Babe is awesome! I have long admired the women in this group and their passion for bread, friendship and hilarity. Besides, I finally get to be a Babe! How could I say ‘no’ to the invitation?

Turns out that the first bread of my babehood is a kind of boot camp bread. No flour, only a little yeast, some salt and honey…and that’s it! Well, that and the cute little hard wheat berries. Sprouting them and then making a dough with the sprouted wheat, the water, yeast, salt and honey was the challenge and it was an act of faith most of the way. Guess newbies need a good challenge to toughen them up.

Sarge Lynn of Cookie Baker Lynn (if you know Lynn you may be laughing now...not really Sarge material) was the hostess this month and I’m actually glad that she chose this bread from Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book. One of the best things about this group…now my group, too!.. is that we push the envelope, try new flours, pans, techniques and kinds of bread…never boring.

Soaking the berries was easy and I had too much success with the sprouting. Thursday morning they had nice little tails, although perhaps a shade too long. By the time I got home from work they were really hairy little devils. By the time they had sat in the fridge overnight the berries were swollen and they were really sprouted! Unfortunately that sometimes means they are past the point where they will make decent bread.

The next incomprehensible thing was that these sprouted beauties were going to turn into a nice ball of dough if I whirled them the right way in a food-processor…not too long, just long enough. Not sure if I even came close, but I ended up with a ‘dough’ that seemed liked cold cooked cracked wheat. No gluten strands that I could see, but what the hay, into the rising bucket with this mass!

A couple of hours later it had, indeed, risen about a half inch and gave the sigh when poked, so I turned it out onto a floured board, flattened it, rounded it off and let it rise again.

Fingers crossed! Where is that glass of wine? Who cares if it’s only 11 am?

Well, it rose about an inch in two plus hours, so I decided to knead it and shape it into a loaf. Since it was so wet, I used my bench scraper to knead with at first. Eventually it seemed more like a dough and I was able to knead it with my damp hands, but it never seemed to have very much in the way of gluten. Shaped it into a loaf and plopped it into the bread pan.

Now we get to see if it actually rises more than an inch.

Left it to rise in the pan and it did rise from about an inch and a half below the pan edge to just over the pan edge. Into the preheated oven with this puppy!

Sigh, no oven spring at all. Even with interior registering 205 degrees F, the center …actually most of the loaf!...was wet and gummy, even when the edges of the crust were starting to burn.

Cooled it down completely, then sliced some. More like cooked cereal with a thin crust than bread Babes

Sweetie loved it warmed with butter, but I fed most of my slice to the dog.

Due to paid work and unpaid work (the remodel ) I didn’t really have time to try this again, but I will. The flavor was great and I love the idea and I know some of the Babes had success, so it can be (and will be) done. This is a sad Babe, but determined, too. Do check out the other Babes and see how this bread should look. The links are on the sidebar.

If you'd like to be a Buddy...and I do encourge you to show me up and make a great version of this bread as some of the Babes have...go to Cookie Baker Lynn's blog for the details. The recipe is below.

Still in Babe Boot Camp I guess. Off to sip some wine and contemplate the next challenge.

Lynn wrote:"We are the mighty Babes. In the kitchen, we are invincible. We can bake without gluten, we can bake without yeast. Can we bake without flour? Yes!

In July we're going to tackle making bread straight from the grain. Sprouted Wheat Bread. It makes me feel a bit like a hippie, but I'm excited to try it. This recipe is from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. I've included directions for using a food processor. If you need different directions, let me know.

Yeasted Sprouted Wheat Bread
- from Laurel’s Kitchen bread book

makes 1 loaf

3 cups hard spring wheat berries (1-1/4 lb or 575 g), about 6 cups sprouted
1 tsp active dry yeast (1/8 oz or 3.5 g)
2 Tbsp warm water (30 ml)
2 tsp salt (11 g)
3 scant Tbsp honey (40 ml)

To sprout the wheat:

Rinse the grain and cover with tepid water, letting it stand 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. Allow the longer period in cooler weather, the shorter period in warm.

Drain off the liquid, rinse the grain with fresh, tepid water, and store in a dark place with a damp cloth over the top of the container. Rinse at least every 12 hours, just until the tiny sprout is barely beginning to show and the grain itself is tender - about 48 hours, then refrigerate until they are cool, overnight or longer, but not more than a day or two.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.

Put the regular cutting blade into a standard-size food processor and measure just over 2 cups of the sprouted wheat, a third of the total, into the bowl. Pour about 2 tsp of the dissolved yeast liquid, a scant Tbsp of honey, and about 2/3 tsp of salt over the wheat in the bowl. To protect the yeast, use separate measuring spoons for each of the ingredients.

Process until the ground wheat forms a ball, about one minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and process about two more minutes. Stop processing before the ball completely falls apart; if your wheat is not exceptionally high in protein a minute and a half might be all it can handle. If it falls apart, check the time, and with the next two batches, stop a little sooner.

Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the ingredients, in two batches. Knead the three dough balls together.

Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm draft-free place. After about an hour and a half, gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn’t fill in at all or if the dough sighs, it is ready for the next step.

Press flat, form into a smooth round, and let the dough rise once more as before. If the dough is cold, the first rise will be fairly slow, but as the dough warms up, the rising will telescope.

Gently knead into a round. Use water on your hands to prevent sticking, and keep the ball as smooth as possible. Let it rest until it regains its suppleness while you grease a standard 8 x 4-inch loaf pan, pie tin, or a cookie sheet.
Deflate the dough and shape into a loaf. Place the dough into the greased loaf pan and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the dough slowly returns a gently made fingerprint. Bake about an hour at 350 deg. F, though if your bread rises very high, it will take less than that.


So the things that seem to be important are to only sprout the berries until they just begin to show white nubs at the tips, be sure to process long enough for gluten strands to form, try baking the bread at a lower temperature and/or remove the loaf from the pan about 10 minutes before it should be done, place it on a baking stone and keep baking! I wish you a hearty, delicious loaf and a good Buddy experience!

XO Elle


  1. You Babes are seriously Making bread sans flour is usually thought impossible! I look forward to your further attempts. This kind of bread can be so dense and dismayingly "healthy;" I like that Sweetie ate it with butter. Way to go.

    ...'til next time...

  2. Wow! Sounds like a neat experiment! Will have to see if I can find wheat-berries here!

  3. I love a gal who is baking bread and drinking wine at 11am!

  4. My smile just kept getting bigger. Great write up and I'm more than happy to join you in some wine.
    No Lynn is not much Sarg material ... although there might be two in her house who would disagree.

  5. Now I know what's missing from our try at this bread!! We don't have a dog.

    Brava for making this. (I have to say that I was really really tempted to fail boot camp with this one - it was only you others who kept me going.)


  6. As long as some one liked it ;-) - and you gave it a good go, right?
    Wish I knew where to find wheat berries..... they really are cute!der

  7. You gave it a brilliant try!! It was a wonderful recipe to start off with eh?! hehehe... we had fun though! Wonderful to have you on board

  8. So so Brave! Real Babe spirit! Is this the time to praise the Husband and pity the dog?

  9. This was a very challenging bread -- boot camp indeed! If you catch the sprouts a little earlier next time I know you'll nail this. I'm delighted you've joined the group!

  10. Wow.another bread baking group and it looks like fun! I have to say, that bread looks amazing! I have never baked a bread with wheatberries, but you've inspired me to do so!

  11. Brave Babe for baking this frightening bread and even more brave of husband to eat it ;o)

  12. Great to hear you joined the Babes.
    Well done on this bread.

  13. Hey, all you had to do was survive bootcamp. ☺ It was so helpful to see all the different results and tips from all you Babes. I look forward to seeing more of your contributions!