Going Primal: Sprouted grain flours in the bread machine

Primal and Paleo diets are popular right now, but cut out the grain to a large extent. If you’re a bread lover like me, the end of grains in your diet is a scary thought. Enter the rise of sprouted grain flours. In this article, we’ll take a look at what they are and if you can bake with them.

What is Sprouted Flour?

Before the rise of combine harvesters, grain was left growing in the field until farmers could get around to harvesting it. A by-product of having too much to do and not enough time or energy, sprouted flours were common before the Industrial Revolution. They happened naturally as the seeds of grain plants prepared to become new seedlings. Enzymes began to break down some of the complex nutrients into forms that new plants would need to thrive, and it turns out that this process released many nutrients that humans also find beneficial. It also made digestion easier.

Now that we’ve rediscovered the benefits of letting grain sit a little longer in the field, until it sprouts, the use of sprouted flour is becoming more popular. The best part of this small period of aging is the increase in bio availability of many vitamins and minerals, like Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as the reduction in phytic acid – a component that exists in regular flour and decreases the ability to absorb nutrients.

Sprouted flour is flour that is prepared using sprouted grain. These nutritional super foods can be ground into a flour that is used in almost every kind of food. Think of sprouted flours as a nutritional step above whole grain flours.

Can Sprouted Flours Be Used in Bread Machines?

Our ancestors used sprouted grain flours on a regular basis, for everything. It was natural.

Accidental, even. Grain harvesting took time, and germination often outpaced the farmer. As a result, many of the earliest bread recipes used sprouted flour. It wasn’t until very recent times that we changed our flours…and breads existed before all-purpose flour came onto the scene.

The bread machine didn’t.

You can modify most bread machine recipes to work with sprouted grain flours, but you need to keep a few things in mind:

  •       If you sprout your flour at home, check the sprout length. An ideal sprout for baking is between ¼” and ½”
  •       Pre-sprouted and ground flours may include information for recipe conversions on their packages
  •       Sprouts are more water-dense than their traditional counterparts; test your recipe and if it’s too moist, decrease your liquid levels slightly
  •       Use cultured dairy products like buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt as the liquid in your recipe in order to mimic the flavor and texture of traditional baked goods
  •       Sprouted grains often add a somewhat crunchy texture to baked goods. Some people love it, others…don’t.

If you’ve got a recipe for bread made with sprouted flour, send it my way! I’d love to give it a try and post a review here on the blog.

Happy Baking!

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