The bread before baking (note lack of confidence that it will turn out ok after baking!)
After a peruse of The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, a brilliantly informative book I bought recently but have yet to bake from, I found that there seem to be two main ways to go with a sprouted bread. One is to sprout wheat berries, grind them, and use them in place of some of the flour. I have never knowingly seen wheat berries over here, so I left that one there. The other is to add sprouts to bread dough, and bake them in. I’m not experienced enough with bread to know what the properties of different add-ins will do to the dough, so I decided not to risk replacing anything for the sprouts, but simply to add them as I would seeds or grains. After much dithering I selected a soya milk loaf because it sounded interesting, and it was in the same section as the rest of the sprout breads (and clearly would therefore absorb some sort of sprout karma which would bless my bread). The recipe notes said that using soya milk makes for a light loaf which tastes like an egg-enriched one. I used unsweetened soya milk, and wholemeal bread flour, though I think that regular plain wholemeal would have been ok. All the stages went smoothly and I just kneaded in the sprouts at the shaping stage. I took a photo before baking just in case they burnt, but in fact it all turned out very nicely and the bread was nice and light, with a lovely whole-foody nuttiness. The sprouts added an extra crunch which was very agreeable. I would definitely make this bread again and would happily serve it up with soup to guests (or the more whole-foody ones, anyway!). I ate another piece with my soup at lunch today and was struck again at how good it is (even after being frozen in the meantime). It's hard to describe its interesting nuttiness, almost rye-ishness and thought-provoking lightness. Just give it a go and see if you can do better!
Post baking - phew
You could, of course, sprout the beans yourself and I do plan to do this next time, but it was such a nice assortment that I thought I’d start easy!
Soymilk bread (from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book)
Notes from the book: 'This is often mistaken for an egg bread because it rises beautifully to give a perfect, airy slice that has good flavour and a slightly chewy, thin, dark crust. It is just right for toasting and for sandwiches'
Makes 2 loaves [I halved it]
2 1/2 cups soymilk, unflavoured [I used unsweetened]
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp active dried yeast (7g)
1/2 cup warm water
6 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsbp butter OR 6 tbsp oil [I used oil]
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water
If the soymilk is not first-day fresh, bring it to a boil, then cool to lukewarm. To cool it quickly, place the pan in a sink or dishpan partly filled with cold water, and stir the soymilk occasionally. Stir the honey into the soymilk (if you choose to use oil and not butter, add the oil too)
Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the soymilk and yeast mixtures and stir all together, adding more water or flour as required to make a soft dough. Knead very well, about 20 minutes vigorously [since I was only making one loaf I probably only did about 12 mins, as you need longer for a larger amount of dough, apparently]. If you are using butter, add it toward the end of the kneading time without melting, working small pieces into the dough until it is smooth and lustrous.
Because of the ripening influence of the soy, allow this dough to rise only once in a warm place, about 80F before shaping. Test by poking the dough with a wet finger, about 1/2 inch in the centre of the dough. If the dough sighs, or if the hole does not fill in at all, flatten the dough and divide it, forming two rounds. Let them rest, and then shape into loaves. Let rise in two greased 8''x4'' loaf pans at a slightly warmer temperature, 85 to 90F. When they are ready for the oven, slash with three diagonal lines for a pretty crust and higher rise in the oven [I forgot, much to my chagrin - it's too much to expect I won't forget a stage, after all]. Bake about 45 mins at 350F.
Good variations: add sunflower seeds - about 1/4 cup per loaf, while you shape the dough [this is what I did with my sprouts]
roll the loaf in poppy seeds
Add raising - 1/3 cup per loaf, when shaping the bread