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Format: Kindle Edition
I preordered this book a couple of months ago, then totally forgot about it until I stumbled upon it in my kindle library. The very same day I grabbed some sprouted wheat flour and some sprouted spelt flour from Whole Foods (they had the One Degree brand from Canada, one that is recommended in the book).
Reinhart starts with very easy recipes to let you get a feel four this new kind of flour, and I followed his lead, whipping together the pancake dough the very next morning. The recipe called for buttermilk, but I only had plain yoghurt and milk, so I mixed equal parts of that to substitute. Within 5 minutes I had the first batch in the pan, and my 12 year old son declared them the best pancakes he ever had. They were moist and chewy, slightly sweet despite having only 1 tsp of sugar in them, and crispy outside.
And they are healthy and nutritious - perfect score in my book!
Next stop was the muffin recipe. This one came together within minutes too, and I opted for the banana walnut option. They turned out fantastic, without any of the dreaded bitter whole wheat under notes whatsoever. By now I was really exited and decided to go for the sprouted whole wheat bread next.
That recipe left me a little frustrated. I am not new to baking bread, and my home grown sourdough starter has been a permanent resident in my fridge for over two years now. I usually prefer baking with that, because with commercial yeast I tend to end up with over proofed yet under fermented dough. But reinhart recommends to try the commercial yeast version first, so I did.
The project reminded me of my early bread days with the 'Aartisan breads in 5 minutes a day' formula I started out with years ago. Just 4 ingredients, commercial yeast, no hands on other then the stretch and fold procedure, and above all, very small dough volume per loaf. The recipe yields a little less than 2 pounds of dough for two loaves.
The dough came together in a flash and firmed up almost instantly. It felt very stiff, despite the extra water the recipe calls for. I decided not to add too much more, waiting instead how it would all pan out. Further following the recipe I diveded the dough in half after it had doubled in size, which still left me with two very small balls. I decided to bake one as a hearth bread, and the other in a loaf pan. So I shaped the loaves and let them proof.
Now, my kitchen is a 75 degrees or so, so knew upfront I had to keep proofing times short. The book said between 1 and 1 1/2 hors. But because the loaves were so small, they proofed in far less than an hour, and my oven wasn't hot enough by the time they had to go in. The recipe time frames really don't work for such small loaves. Also, less than 1 pound of dough was not enough to fill my loaf pan even half way up. After the rise to 1 1/2 half time it's size it didn't sprang much more in the oven, partly because it was already over proofed, partly because there is not much oven spring to be expected in a 375 oven to begin with.
So the final breads were short and stunted, but the crumb, though missing any big irregular holes was soft and creamy, not really dense at all. My 10 year old daughter declared it the best bread I ever baked, and gobbled up half a loaf with just butter on top in one sitting.
So - I decided to let my starter loose on the last bit of sprouted flour I had left after the pancakes, muffins, and yeasted bread. It was only enough for half a batch, and my starter hadn't been refreshed for 3 1/2 days or so, but I plunged ahead anyway. As before, just stirring the water in the flour immediately firmed it up. I ended up not kneading at all, just gently stretching and folding it in 15 minute increments, and every time I did, I dumped in more and more water. I wish I weighed how much water I ended up using, but I arrived at at least if not more than 100% hydration. The dough turned out very wet, yet firm, and needed 5 hours of proofing time before I felt it was time to shape it. One hour later (not 2 or 3 hours later as stated in the book!) I threw it in a 475 presteamed oven onto a baking stone, steamed again, closed the door, and watched.
It sprang up beautifully within 5 minutes, the score opened up nicely and ended up in a big ear I could carry the bread with. It looked done within 35 minutes or so, with a nice golden crust, but as it sat and cooled, I decided it needed 10 to 15 minutes longer in the oven, probably because of the mega hydration.
In short, it was the best loaf I ever baked.
If you start baking with these flours, be prepared to use much more water than in conventional doughs. How much depends on what brand of flour you use I guess. I just kept adding water as much as the dough would take while patiently stretching and folding away every 30 minutes or so. The breads turn out mildly sweet, with a creamy texture and are a pleasure to eat. I felt no blood sugar spike whatsoever from it, and two slices with butter for breakfast sustained me well without hunger pangs for 4 hours or so.
I am looking forward to baking from this book regularly, I think it will be my new bread bible from here on out.
Thanks and kudos to Peter Reinhard for introducing these amazing new flours, and how to bake with them!