Tuesday, January 20, 2015


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UPDATE Nov. 2017: Are you gluten-intolerant or do you have IBS?  There is research showing that you may be able to tolerate grains with gluten if they are sprouted or risen with natural fermentation, such as sourdough. (PS: Using sourdough starter in this bread recipe would require some experimentation because so little liquid is used in this dough.)
Sprouted wheat flour can be used in place of ordinary wheat flour in this recipe and the bread would still be inexpensive, since so little is used. You could even make your own sprouted wheat flour, if you are so inclined, directions here: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/01/making-sprouted-flour.html

RECIPE UPDATED ON JAN. 23, 2015-- I added some photos and a few extra notes and corrected the size of the bread pans I use and the amount of water used in the recipe.  Sorry about that-- should not write recipes when I'm sick!

I'm sorry it's taken so long to get this post (or any post!) up-- I've been sick with the flu.  But, at last I'm finishing this post on how to make a delicious sprouted wheat bread (with minimal flour) that is not heavy, flat and/or overly moist, that has the texture and appearance of a good whole wheat loaf.

I started this journey because I was interested in making a bread with a lower glycemic index rating. I discovered that: "Since particle size influences the glycemic index (the smaller the size the higher the glycemic index), bread made from grain kernels have been shown to be lower GI. Not yet tested but probable, bread made from sprouted grains can be expected to have a similar effect." From http://tinyurl.com/ywve7 (And evidently, sourdough breads are lower on the glycemic index, too.) Eating lower on the glycemic index may have a positive influence on my husband's triglyceride levels, so we (both being bread bakers) thought it was worth some experimentation.

Many bakers are experimenting with sprouted wheat flour, but I prefer not to buy it-- it's very expensive, and it's time-consuming to make (you must sprout the grain, then dry it thoroughly, and then grind it-- which is why it is expensive to buy).  We grind our whole wheat flour, so we have lots of wheat kernels in the house at all times. So, the most practical solution seemed to be to experiment with the sprouted wheat itself. But I was aiming for a lighter loaf than most the sprouted wheat breads I'd seen, one with minimal flour, and one which did not need the addition of vital wheat gluten powder in order to rise (not that I object to it-- I use it to make seitan-- but I think it makes breads too chewy.)

My first experiment, using an adapted version of a recipe from "The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole Grain Breadmaking" was a success-- the dough was easy to handle and rose beautifully, baked up nice and crusty. I used my husband's signature baking method-- 5 minutes at 485°F. and 25 more at 375°F-- and the bread tasted great, smelled heavenly (kind of nutty), and the crumb is lovely. It made delicious toast!

But what was NOT so positive with my first batch was that when I removed the initial ground sprout mixture from the food processor and the kneaded dough from the mixer bowl, I was left with a thin coating of sticky dough that stuck like glue, particularly to the blade (inside and out) of the processor. After soaking everything in warm water for a while, it took me about 20 minutes of scrubbing to clean everything, and the sponge had to go into the garbage can. But I let the dough rise in an oiled bowl and that bowl was easy to clean (thank goodness!).  When I cut and rolled the dough and shaped the loaves, I oiled my hands and had no problem with sticking. So, the next time, as I outlined in the final recipe, I oiled everything the dough was going to touch, and it went smoothly (not to make a pun).  Don't worry-- after kneading, the dough not so sticky and should feel like an ordinary bread dough.

So, here's the final recipe.  I hope it works as well for you as it has for us.  It's truly delicious and I have some more wheat kernels soaking right now for the next batch.

Yield: 3 loaves

You will need a large food processor to grind the soaked wheat kernels, a large colander, a large bowl for rising the dough, and, if you prefer not to hand-knead, a sturdy stand mixer than can knead 3-4 loaves-worth of whole grain dough. You will also need three 8 x 4.5-inch loaf pans. (We use these pans-- they are excellent and long-lasting and only need greasing once in a while.)

6 cups hard red wheat kernels 
1/4 cup warm water       
2 teaspoons instant baking yeast      
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar, Sucanat or coconut sugar        
3 1/2 teaspoons salt    
3 cups whole wheat flour OR sprouted whole wheat flour   
You can even make your own sprouted wheat flour, if you are so inclined: 
http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/01/making-sprouted-flour.html )
3 tablespoons oil (this addition does help keep the bread  moist for a longer time)

1          In a large bowl, cover the wheat kernels (by several inches) with warm water. Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm place (such as in the oven—turned off-- with the light on). Depending on the warmth in house, you may have to let the wheat soak for up to 3 whole days (which is what it takes me, usually), rinsing and changing the water twice a day.
IMPORTANT: You don't want the wheat to sprout more than a tiny fraction-- just so you see the white sprout emerging. In my experience, some of the wheat may not sprout at all, but it still works just fine for this recipe. NOTE: If the water smells a bit fermented and gets a little frothy on top, the temperature where you are sprouting the wheat is too warm!  Thoroughly rinse the wheat in cold water, add new water and continue in a cooler place.  If you can't use the sprouts right away, rinse them, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator (for only a day or two) until you can make the bread. Rinse them with warm water and drain for 30 minutes before using.

ALSO IMPORTANT: If the wheat sprouts more than a tiny bit, the diastatic enzymes develop and make the bread dough very gooey and hard to bake.

3          When you are ready to make the dough, drain the wheat in a large colander and let drain for about 1/2 an hour.

4          Meanwhile, thoroughly oil ALL of the equipment that the dough will touch-- all of the inside of the food processor bowl and the inside of the lid, the blade, the inside of the blade, and the spindle for the blade; and then the inside of your mixer bowl, the inside of the mixer lid, and the  dough hook. Also oil the inside of the bowl you will use for rising the dough. This is VERY important. If you neglect the oiling procedure, the un-kneaded dough will stick like glue to everything it touches!

5          Grind the drained wheat kernels in the oiled food processor in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your machine. Grind the kernels until they form a dough on the top of the blade. You will see the bran in the dough, by the way. Deposit each batch of dough into a large oiled bowl or the oiled bowl of the stand mixer you are using.

6         Soften the yeast in the warm water for a few minutes and scoop it into the dough (along with the optional oil, if you are using it). In a small dry mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup of the whole wheat flour, the sugar and salt. Add this mixture to the dough and begin kneading, by machine or with your hands on an oiled counter, or right in a large oiled bowl. Add the remaining flour as the kneading proceeds. You should use the entire 3 cups in order for the bread to rise nicely. This has worked for me with no adjustments after draining the wheat for about 30 minutes, but  if you drain the wheat for a longer time, you may have to add a bit of water until the dough feels right.  You do not want the dough to be very dry or stiff. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It should feel like a normal, springy whole grain yeast dough. If you knead by hand, oil your hands and the kneading surface, rather than flouring them, so that the dough remains moist and springy.

7          Place the kneaded dough in the oiled bowl that you are using for rising, cover and let rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours.

8          The dough should double in size and be springy.  To test for whether or not it has sufficiently risen, poke your finger into the dough and, if the hole does not start filling in, it’s ready.   If you would like to rise it once again before forming the loaves, punch it down and let it rise again for about 1 hour.

9            On an oiled surface, with oiled hands, divide the dough into three equal pieces.  You want each loaf to weigh approximately 1 lb. 12 oz., no more.  You may have some extra dough left over, which you could shape into small buns, a little baby loaf, to or make into tortilla-like flatbreads, if you like. 
             Pat each piece of dough into a rough rectangle and roll it up from one of the short sides.  Pinch dough on the “seam”.  

Place each loaf into greased or nonstick 8 x 4.5-inch loaf pan, press it down so that the top is even.  

Cover the loaves with clean, warm, wet tea towels (non-textured), or canvas; OR place them inside of a new plastic bag that is big enough to puff up over and around the loaves, without touching the dough.  Secure it in place with a twist-tie.  Rise the loaves in a warm place for about another hour or so, checking after half an hour and every 10 minutes or so after that.

10         After 30 minutes rising, turn on your oven on to 485°F.

11          When the loaves have risen over the tops of the pans (see picture above), slash the top as pictured with a sharp serrated knife or a blade, squirt the tops with water from a spray bottle.  Place the loaves on a rack in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 385°F and back for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and crusty.

12         Remove from the pans and cool thoroughly on racks.   


Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per slice [16 per loaf]): 110.1 calories; 4% calories from fat; 0.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 138.5mg sodium; 117.2mg potassium; 23.2g carbohydrates; 3.8g fiber; 1.6g sugar; 19.4g net carbs; 4.7g protein.

Nutrition Facts with Optional Oil:
Nutrition (per slice [16 per loaf]): 117.5 calories; 10% calories from fat; 1.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 138.6mg sodium; 117.2mg potassium; 23.2g carbohydrates; 3.8g fiber; 1.6g sugar; 19.4g net carbs; 4.7g protein.

Happy Baking!

Monday, January 5, 2015


Best Blog Tips


Yesterday, I checked the refrigerator for greens that needed using up.  We live on an island, so we only shop every 2 weeks.  I'm trying to avoid any food waste (watching this documentary has strengthened my resolve!), so I moved all the vegetables out of the refrigerator drawers (filled them with condiments) and I have my veggies right in the center of the fridge, with the ones that need to be used up first in the front, so that I don't forget about them.  Anyway, I had spinach and baby bok choy to use up, so I turned to two of my older recipes.  (BTW, if you can't watch that movie outside of Canada, check out this review and watch for screenings in your area-- it's worth watching!)

For lunch, I made Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Soup from my book "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen: All Vegan Recipes", and, for dinner (because I had some vegan crepes left over from Saturday breakfast, and some of DH's spaghetti sauce in the refrigerator), I made Italian Savory Crepes Stuffed with Vegan Ricotta & Spinach from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen: Delicious Home-Style Vegan Cuisine", both with a couple of little tweaks. It's been too long since I made these recipes-- so delicious and healthful!  So, I'd like to share the recipes with you. Enjoy!

Crepes have been made in Italy for centuries, with many different types of flours.  They are particularly popular in Tuscany. Filled crepes that are cut into short lengths and baked are called bocconcini, which means "little mouthfuls".  Crespelle "cakes", or timbali, are crepes stacked with filling in between and cut into wedges.
Many delicious vegetables stuffings are popular (you can use a filling as simple as just steamed, chopped in-season vegetables held together with thick besciamella sauce), particularly the spinach and ricotta filling from Florence, which I have veganized and used in the following recipe.
Crespelle can be made ahead (even frozen), and they make an elegant dinner dish for company or special occasions, such as Easter dinner.
These vegan crespelle are nice and tender, thin but not fragile, roll well, and have a delicate flavor. PS: The crepe recipe I used last night and publish here is actually from another on of my books, "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause".

Printable Recipe (Includes crepe recipe)

Serves 6 
(Can be soy-free)

12 vegan crepes (see my recipe below-- can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen--OR you can use my recipe for Fat-Free Whole Grain Crepes)
Spinach and "Cheese" Filling:
2 onions, minced
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. fresh cleaned spinach, OR 2/ 10 oz. pckgs. chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups Tofu or Almond Ricotta OR Okara/Cashew Ricotta
4 to 6 tablespoons vegan Parmesan substitute (we like GoVeggie! brand)
salt, freshly ground pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg
Bake crespelle with a light tomato sauce or a medium Besciamella (Bechamel) sauce, ( or you can layer Besciamella over the tomato sauce, for a really special dish), along with a vegan Parmesan substitute or alternate. There is a recipe for my low-fat Creamy White-Bean-Flour Based Bechamel here, and my basic vegan Bechamel/White sauce recipe is here.

Sauté the onions in the olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron or hard-anodized skillet until they are soft and starting to brown (adding a tiny bit of water as needed, to keep from sticking).  

Meanwhile, place the fresh spinach in boiling water until it is completely wilted, then drain, squeeze dry, and chop it finely.  OR, if using frozen chopped spinach, thaw it thoroughly (you can quick-thaw it by placing the whole carton in the microwave for 5 minutes) and squeeze it as dry as possible.

Mix the spinach in a bowl with the cooked onions, ricotta, Parmesan sub , and salt, pepper and to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place a generous amount of filling down the center of each crepe and roll it up.   

Place the rolls in an oiled baking dish.  (You can prepare the crepes up to this point several hours ahead of time.)  

Pour a little of the sauce you are using over the crepes, sprinkle with Parmesan or alternative (and some shredded vegan mozza-type cheese, too, if you like) and bake for 20 minutes. 

Serve immediately!


Makes 12-13 crepes

From my book "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause".

These are really excellent--they have that flexible "eggy" texture of regular crepes.  You can freeze them, too.

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 cup unbleached white flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup medium-firm tofu or silken tofu
1/4 cup soy or chickpea flour
OPTIONAL: 1 to 2 tablespoons  nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon unbleached organic sugar
1/2 tsp. EACH salt and baking powder
a pinch of nutmeg

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until very smooth.  If the batter seems too thick (and it should be like thick cream), whisk in a bit more non-dairy milk or water until it is the right consistency.

No need to "rest" this batter first.  Tofu crepes are made just like ordinary crepes.

Heat a nonstick or cast-iron 8" skillet over medium-high heat and wipe it lightly with oil before making each crepe. Use 3-4 tablespoons of batter per crepe (stirring the batter before you make each crepe), rolling and tilting the pan until it evenly covers the bottom.  Cook for a few seconds, or until the top looks dry.

Carefully loosen the crepe with a spatula and flip it over.

After a few seconds the other side should be dry.  

Fold into quarters or roll like a jelly roll and place on a plate (or leave them flat if you are going to stack them with filling).  If you are going to use the crepes shortly, cover them with a clean tea towel.

Either fill the crepes and serve according to the specific recipe directions, or let them cool and place in a plastic bag or rigid container (with pieces of waxed paper in between each crepe) and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze them for future use (thaw thoroughly before filling).


Printable Recipe

Serves 4-8
This makes a wonderful light lunch. The sum is definitely greater than the simple parts of this delicious soup!

1 1/2 lb. baby bok choy, washed, dried and trimmed (separate the stems if they are on the larger side)
6-8 dried Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, and stems removed (save soaking water)
1 cup sliced fresh white or brown (cremini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil
12 cubes of commercial fried tofu OR, for a lower-fat version, use Oven-Broiled Tofu (see below)
5 cups light vegetarian broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Soup Base)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry to medium sherry or rice wine
2 1/2 c. cooked gan mian or ji mian (plain, thin flour and water noodles), or spaghettini (can be whole grain), or buckwheat soba
dark sesame oil, for drizzling

If using the commercial fried tofu cubes, pour boiling water over them, let stand for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out as much water and oil as you can.  Cut the cubes in half.
Heat a large wok or stir-fry pan or heavy pot over high heat.  When hot, add the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the bok choy, dried mushrooms and fresh mushrooms.  Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, including the mushroom soaking water and the fried or oven-broiled tofu.  Let it simmer for a few minutes, until everything is hot.
Serve immediately and pass the sesame oil to sprinkle over each serving.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 214 calories, 85 calories from fat, 9.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 858.7mg sodium, 526mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 4.9g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 11.3g protein.

This is my fat-free sub for fried tofu in certain recipes!
Cut 12-14 ounces of extra-firm tofu into cubes or triangles of your choice of size.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet.  Place the tofu pieces, not touching, on the sheet and spray lightly with oil from a pump sprayer.  Place the sheet about 6 inches under a heated oven broiler.  Broil for several minutes (checking every couple of minutes), until the tofu is golden and crusty, and maybe even a little charred, on top.  Turn the pieces over and repeat for the other side.  The 2nd side will take less time, so watch carefully!  Remove from the oven immediately.  PS: You can make a large batch of this and  refrigerate for other recipes.