Sprouted Wheat Pulp Bread made with new desem starter
This has to be one of the most interesting (to me) breads I’ve made in the last couple of months. As I was making it I kept on thinking that this was quite mad scientist and couldn’t possibly work.
It all started when I read a stray comment from David (headupinclouds) about the “wet sprouted grain path”….which led me to find Wendy’s interesting post here from 2018 about Reinhart’s Sprouted Pulp Bread.
And from there it was a short hop skip and jump to take those first tentative steps onto the “wet sprouted grain path”. At least some of these tenative steps have been self inflicted, it would have certainly been easier to read Peter Reinhart.
At the time I didn’t have Reinhart’s “Bread Revolution” book, so the formula that I came up with to make my own was based off some assumptions. The first thought was that maybe 150g of wheat berries to 300g of flour would be a good starting point. It was harder to guess how much water to add, so I assumed that roughly 10% of the mass of the wheat berries was water and germinated the wheat in a closed glass jar so that I could have a rough idea of the added hydration. Also, I made the assumptions that 3 days would be about right for germination of the sprouts, although my kitchen is a cold 17 deg C at this time of the year.
And, based on these assumptions, and treating the sprouted wheat as another flour I initially aimed for ‘70% hydration’ overall, figuring that it is better to be underhydrated and have control over the dough and add in water later by bassinage if needed. It turned out to be needed too – 50g of the water listed above in the formula needed to be added in via bassinage. The wheat husk and endosperm are certainly good at doing what they do when it comes to locking in (or out) the moisture.
The food processor with the sharp metal blade was used for pulping the sprouted wheat berries, and since I didn’t really want to wash multiple containers I also used it for mixing the dough. I started out with a slurry of levain and the initial amount of water (178g) and into this the sprouted wheat was added for pulping. It was necessary to run the machine for around 3 minutes until the mixture no longer showed large wheat pieces. On top of this the high protein sifted bread flour was poured, with a total mix time thereafter of around 35 (20+15) seconds to make the final dough. There was a rest between the two mixes so that the dough could fermentolyse. When it came out of the food processor the dough had strong gluten and was taut and rubbery, and it was then left in a bowl in the proofing box for about an hour before the salt and additional bassinage water was added by hand. The bassinage the excessive rubbery gluten texture.
If I was to repeat, I think it might be interesting to pulp the wheat berries first to see what the pulp looks like (and to smell it) on its own without the levain slurry, although the method of mixing used clearly turned out to be effective and there was nothing wrong with it.
From Wendy’s post the raisins and nuts looked like interesting inclusions, but I didn’t want to overdo the inclusions on the first attempt, so there were inclusions, but only a small amount of dry cranberries and walnuts from leftovers in the cupboard. Inclusions were laminated in, thereafter followed by a couple of coil folds about hourly, with shaping at a low volume increase of 20% and the banneton went into the fridge for a retard at a volume increase of approximately 45%. Normally I like to go a little bit bigger than that, but the levain wasn’t as active as I’d have liked.
The levain is my new desem culture which I’ve been playing with storing semi dehydrated in the fridge, and probably it should have had an additional day growing in the warm proofer with one extra levain build step before use. It is weird to think that the desem levain was started from the same bag of wheat kernels that I used for this bread, at least there is some consistency with the yeast and bacteria species found on the seeds and what is being used in the levain culture, although the whole thing felt kind of cannibalistic!
This bread was lovely to eat. I can see why all the bakers who make pulp breads say they will do it again. The taste was more neutral than sweet, but it certainly did not have the sour taste notes that I associate with sourdough and wholewheat. It was a little denser than I like, and I suspect using emmer or kamut are worth exploring as Reinhart suggests, although even using regular wheat result in a “power” bread that is digestible and nutritious.
Today I bought an ebook version of Reinhart’s book to finally see the recipe for his “sprouted emmer pulp power bread”. Definitely on the path now. And, can see why his bread is less dense – the ratio of kernels to flour in his recipe has more flour, and he even added some VWG which I see could be beneficial. Plus, he also used a lot more of the good stuff, the raisins and nuts! Definitely will try his recipe too, there will certainly be a next time.