Sunday, July 24, 2022

Soaked Ezekiel Bread with Freshly Ground Flours

Ezekiel bread is one of those healthy sounding and health claim asserting bread options.  It's healthful because the grains are supposed to be sprouted.  This makes them easier to digest and the nutrients more bio-available.  The bread contains spelt, barley, millet, whole wheat flour, and legumes as well as seeds. This makes it rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, B6, folic acid, calcium and zinc.  So it really is a nutrient dense and healthful bread, though certainly not calorie or carb light!  But the fiber and protein are hard to beat as far as breads go.  Now if the grains and legumes used to make it are not sprouted, it will be hard to digest ("gut bomb") and the nutrients will be competing with phytic acid and other absorption inhibitors.  For many folks, sprouted grains and legumes are either unavailable, too expensive, or are otherwise difficult to procure and not worth the time.  This is where the soaking option shines.  With an easily available acidic medium of whey, vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water, the benefits of the sprouting process are reproduced without the necessity of either sprouting and drying your own grains, or buying them at a premium.  I.e., it's much easier for most people.

We have a favorite soaked whole wheat recipe that I used to make often.  This week I combined that technique with this bread and got a really nice loaf out of it!  That makes me happy, as the last time I tried an Ezekiel bread recipe, it did not turn out nearly as well.  Side note: I don't know why the need for so much honey in a loaf - half a cup for one loaf?  So I cut that in half.  Honey is already sweeter than sugar and this is supposed to be a "health bread".  It doesn't need to be a tasteless hockey puck, but it certainly does not need that much sweetener.

And now that we have had a chance to taste this loaf, it is very much a winner, hooray!  The last Ezekiel attempt made it's way to the compost; this one will be devoured with great relish.  It is soft and slightly delicate, with a delightful texture almost like a moist sponge cake.  Flavor is reminiscent of squaw bread or anadama bread, which I always loved.  The honey in it smells lovely.  Kiddos loved it with butter, I may have had too many pieces with butter and whipped honey.  This would make great sandwiches and spectacular toast.  You absolutely must wait until it is cool to slice, or the crumb will be damaged and likely gummy.  Let the starches set and then cut it.  Because it is soaked overnight and the ingredients are finely ground and sifted, this does not have the coarser texture of a multi-grain or seeded bread, just the wonderful flavor and beautifully soft crumb.  (Since I used sprouted wheat berries, my crumb is potentially a little more open and delicate than if using regular wheat berries.)

Soaked Ezekiel Bread
makes 1 loaf

1¼ cups minus 1 tbsp (270g) water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
30g millet
30g barley (I had pearled barley on hand)
238g whole wheat berries (I had whole sprouted red wheat to use up, feel free to use hard white wheat for a lighter colored crumb and slightly milder flavor)
90g spelt berries (I used the last of my whole sprouted spelt mixed with sprouted red wheat)
12g pinto beans or chickpeas  (I used chickpeas)
25g green lentils
12g dry kidney beans
12g dry great northern beans or navy beans (I used navy beans)
5g golden flax seed
¼ cup (84g) honey (original recipe called for twice that!)
¼ cup (50g) olive Oil

1½ tbsp (21g) water
8.5g active dry yeast
pinch sugar
7g sea salt

Combine the beans in a high-powered food processor, blender, or spice grinder.  Blitz into a flour and add to the remaining grains.  Process the grains into flour using a grain mill or high powered blender.  (Because the flax seed is such a small amount, and mixed into the rest of the grains, you do not need to worry about running it in a regular grain mill, which would normally be avoided for an oily seed like flax.) Sift the flour to remove the beans skins and bran that is larger.  There may be up to ¼ cup or more.

Combine the water, vinegar, honey and oil in a measuring cup.  In a large bowl, combine the ground flours with the water mixture using a dough whisk or your hands, until all ingredients are evenly moistened.  It is not necessary to knead the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours.

The next day, stir the yeast and pinch of sugar into the 1½ tbsp of warm water until it dissolves. Let it sit for 5-8 minutes to activate dry yeast until a creamy foam domes up.  Meanwhile, fold and knead the salt into the resting dough mixture.  The dough will have more structure to it by now.

Once the yeast has activated, mix it into the dough.  This may take some hand squooshing and mixing to incorporate the liquid into the dough.  Knead the dough until it can be formed into a fairly smooth ball.  It can be turned out onto a floured surface to help the process.  (Mine was a bit sticky at this point.)

Cover with plastic or a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until double in size, about about 1 hour.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times.  Flatten the dough into a rectangle and roll into a loaf shape.

Grease a loaf pan (I used an 8x4" pan) and place the loaf into the pan. Feel free to top the loaf with rolled oats or sesame seeds or a seed mixture if desired.  Cover with a damp cloth.

Return the pan to a warm location and let rise until the center is an inch above the top of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown, and the bottom is cooked.  (My loaf baked perfectly at this temp, but for less time than called for and it did require a foil tent to prevent over-browning.  I might use 350ºF and 45 minutes next time.)  This loaf should be done at about 205ºF internal temperature.  

Remove from the oven and place in a cooling rack.  Turn out the loaf after 10 minutes.  Do not slice until completely cool.  The loaves can be reheated after cooling and then sliced warm if desired.

Place in air-tight bags or containers for longer life and store in the refrigerator or slice and freeze.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Easier Flaky Crescent Rolls #BBB

 Does lamination scare you?  Here is a recipe you can try out that eases into the process!  I have had a number of "fails" with lamination.  Oh, the breads turned out perfectly edible, but nothing smells quite like scorching butter oil that has leaked out as the item bakes.

My consistent issue has been, I finally figured out, with the butter temperature.  I keep my fridge really cold, and I have a chest freezer that works pretty fast.  Usually with the times listed for chilling in a laminated recipe, I end up with my butter layer too hard, which then breaks into little lumps while rolling out, which in turn messes up the lamination, which results in a lot more butter leakage during baking.  It also makes a difference whether the butter is a high fat, less water, European style butter or a cheaper butter which likely has higher water content.  For Americans, the most widely available lower moisture butter brands are Plugra, Kerrygold, and Lurpak.  Other brands may tend to get hard faster, leading to breakage during lamination and leaking during baking, both from exposed butter melting, and from the extra water steaming and melting the butter.  Even while making these rolls, I noticed that the butter got hard enough to break at less than 10 minutes.  (I was just using butter on hand.)  So I modified my method a little for my kitchen temps: I took the dough out and let it warm up for 5 minutes until the butter felt pliable instead of hard.  If I felt breaking while rolling, I stopped and let it sit for a while longer.  Fingers crossed!  The trick is for the butter and dough to be about the same temperature, which is more of a challenge than one might assume.

We would love to have you try out this everyday treat with us this month and share how it turned out! Despite my continued battle with lamination, these turned out amazing, with no butter leakage.  And they freeze amazingly well and split and toast up even better than fresh.  Highly recommend trying them toasted, with butter and whipped honey.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Easier Flaky Crescent Rolls
makes about 18-20 rolls

¼ cup warm water ~105-110ºF [60 grams]
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast one packet [7 grams]
2 tsp sugar [8 grams]
¾ cup warm milk (not boiling) [183 grams]
1 egg
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted or softened [14 grams]
1 tsp salt [6 grams]
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling [375 grams + more for rolling]
8 tbsp salted butter, softened [113 grams]
1 egg beaten and or melted butter, for brushing


In a large glass bowl or stand mixer, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar to dissolve the sugar and yeast.  Let the mixture sit for about five minutes until it is puffed up and foamy.

Add the warm milk, egg, 1 tbsp butter, salt and flour. Using the dough hook, a dough whisk, or your hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.  The dough will seem sticky at first, but it will eventually become smooth and springy.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface.  Lightly knead into a smooth ball.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll out a large rectangle that is about ¼-inch thick. Gently spread the 8 tbsp softened butter all over dough, leaving about an inch around the sides of the rectangle.

Fold the dough in thirds by folding one side of the rectangle towards the center and folding the other side over as well on top of the first layer so that there are three dough layers.  Carefully move the dough to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 7-10 minutes.  (If you find the butter getting too hard, chill for less time or switch to chilling in the fridge for 20 minutes, especially on subsequent roll outs.  Don't attempt to roll if the butter is not pliable.)

Roll the dough again into a long rectangle (being careful of the butter - if it is breaking, let it warm up for a while longer) and fold dough again into thirds like a book. Place back in freezer for 5-7 more minutes. Repeat this process two more times for a total of three folds (and 30 minutes in the freezer.)  (I ended up just going to the refrigerator for my last chill, the butter was hardening too fast.)

After the three folds, you can either go ahead and shape for baking or you can wrap your dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or up to three days.

To shape, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise, cut the strips into triangles. Roll each crescent up using both hands.  

Broken butter bits - butter was too cold.


 Place on a lined baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart.  Cover with a tea towel and set in a room temperature place to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  (Not too warm or the butter will melt and there will be fewer layers.)

While the rolls rise, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400ºF.  Before baking, brush each crescent with the beaten egg wash. Bake rolls for 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  If desired brush with melted butter.  Serve warm with butter and honey or jam.

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Back to Banana Bread #BreadBakers

We love banana bread.  The kids love it plain, hubby and I like it with a schmear of butter.  I have always been a banana bread purist when baking my own: no nuts, no cinnamon, nothing but banana.  I certainly won't turn up my nose at other banana breads with those ingredients, indeed I have tried others that sound tasty, but I always come back to my simply banana favorite.  That said, I did try adding a little shot of extra flavor by way of coffee liqueur to my latest batch and it was tasty.  You would not guess it was there but it enhanced the banana nicely.

So one thing I have found with banana bread is that you get the best flavor and moist crumb with seriously overripe bananas.  More specifically, bananas so black you would not eat them fresh and might just compost if not for the wonder that is banana bread.  For one thing, they have more sugar.  So if using a perfectly ripe banana that you would also just eat up, the batter will need more sugar to turn out perfectly with a nice, shiny top.  If using a coarse whole wheat or spelt, the loaf will be more evenly moist the next day.

As with any muffin or quick bread, be sure that your baking soda and baking powder are fresh and ready to work to avoid flat baked goods.

(Pictured at top, banana bread with a tiny hint of kahlua; next, simply banana bread with just vanilla; and third, banana bread with fresh ground spelt, which contains a lot of bran.)  The whole wheat style banana bread will be somewhat bran heavy in texture on the first day if using coarse wholemeal flour, but will soften to a beautiful nutty flavor on day two!

Simply Banana Bread
makes one loaf

¼ cup butter, softened
3 tbsp sunflower oil
¼ cup sour cream
2 overripe bananas, mashed (so overripe that you would not otherwise eat it is best)
1 tsp vanilla (if you want to add an undefinable enhancement, try adding ½-1 tsp kahlua or other coffee liqueur with the vanilla)
2⁄3-1 cup evaporated cane sugar (2⁄3 if your bananas are practically black, 1 cup if it hardly has any speckles, though the banana flavor will be less pronounced)
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour (or 1¼ cups light spelt)
½ cup white whole wheat or whole spelt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt

Lightly butter an 8x4" loaf pan and preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a bowl, cream together the sugar, butter and oil until no lumps of butter remain.  Blend in the banana, sour cream, egg and vanilla until well mixed.  Mix together the dry ingredients and beat in just until fully combined.  Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake at 350º for 35-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If the crust is perfectly brown but the center still needs time, turn down the temp to 300º and give it another 5-10 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

 Be sure to check out all the other delectable banana variations:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.