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.