THE SPROUTS ALTERNATIVE
By TIM KITZMAN
By TIM KITZMAN
As bakers we tend to think that only flour, water, salt and some form
of yeast make bread. In a sense that is true, but in addition to using
grain processed into flour as our medium, we can also use grain that is
processed – but in a much different way – and not milled into flour.
With some technical knowledge and a good imagination, many breads can be made with sprouts
As bakers we tend to think that only flour, water, salt and some form of yeast make bread. In a sense that is true, but in addition to using grain processed into flour as our medium, we can also use grain that is processed – but in a much different way – and not milled into flour. In this article, we will cover the process of using sprouted grains as the flour component in breads.
When we sprout grains, the grain itself is treated better, and therefore treats the human body better. We will review the nutritional and digestive benefits of sprouted grain breads, the methods for sprouting grains and the formulation and process of a truly wonderful 100 per cent sprouted grain bread.
With growing concerns about the North American diet, many of us are beginning to reduce our intake of highly processed, white flour-based breads. Whole grain breads, whether wheat or rye, seeded or not, commercially yeasted or naturally leavened, are some of the many choices we consider when consuming our bread products. Bakeries from small to large have taken note, and more varieties of healthful breads are becoming available every day. While whole grain breads are much healthier than white-flour-based breads, they are made with unsprouted, dry grain that is processed into flour.
Why should we sprout?
The grains – wheat, rye, spelt, barley, millet and others used to make “normal” bread – are young grains milled into flour. When a grain is milled, many of the nutritional properties of the grain are lost. Sprouting is a way to release all of the vital nutrients inherent within the grain. A sprouted grain, unlike a young grain, is allowed to germinate. During the germination process, vitamin and mineral values increase, enzymes are formed and anti-nutrients are negated. Sprouting dramatically changes the composition of the nutritional properties and digestibility of grains, resulting in significant health benefits.
With the sprouting method, products become far more digestible because the starches are turned into simple sugars; the proteins are broken down into amino acids, and the fats are converted into soluble fatty acids. The overall enzyme content of the product is greatly increased and the sprouting process neutralizes the natural enzyme inhibitors.
Enzymes are the catalyst for the digestion of starches, proteins and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals. During the digestion of grains, our bodies use enzymes to break down the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars so we can absorb nutrients and expel waste. Whole grains, normally digested as starches, are processed using pancreatic enzymes, which most bodies have in short supply. When sprouting grains, starch molecules are transformed into simple sugars before the body ingests the product. The starch molecules are changed into vegetable sugars and – since most bodies have an abundance of vegetable enzymes – the body can easily digest these simple sugars. With this easier digestion, the body avoids the buildup of painful gases in the digestive tract that can occur when digesting any grain.
Sprouting initiates an intense enzymatic hydrolysis of protein. Stored proteins are broken down into component amino acids. The enzymatic activity changes the gluten-forming properties of protein to a more digestible, tolerable state. Because the protein is pre-digested, sprouts are more easily assimilated and less gas-forming than in their dry form. Many individuals with mild gluten sensitivities use sprouted products with no adverse affects or allergic reactions. However, those with gluten sensitivities should consult a physician before consuming any product that contains gluten.
When grains and seeds are dry, enzymes are mostly inactive. This is due in large part to enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors play a large role in allowing a seed or grain to last for years without the moisture necessary to begin the growing cycle. These anti-nutrients or enzyme inhibitors are substances that bind enzymes or nutrients and inhibit the absorption of the nutrients.
Such inhibitors interfere with protease activity (protein enzymes), amylase activity (starch enzymes), phytic acid and polyphenolic compounds, such as tannins. When grains and seeds are given moisture and germination begins, these inhibitors are deactivated or neutralized. During germination, the plant’s enzymes are activated and begin to break down the starches, proteins and fats, and chelate (merge with a protein molecule) the vitamins and minerals. When sprouting begins, the beneficial plant digestive enzymes are enhanced and the grain or seed becomes more nutritious and digestible.
With the incredible digestive and nutritional benefits that result from sprouting grains, it makes sense that more bakeries are exploring this bread making process. Wheat, spelt and rye grains are the most common grains used in sprouted bread baking, but a long list of other grains, seeds, legumes and even nuts may be sprouted and added to a dough. Grains such as barley, triticale, corn, teff, millet, amaranth and quinoa; seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and buckwheat; and legumes such as pinto, lentils and chickpeas can be sprouted, ground and added to a dough. Keep in mind that only certain grains have gluten-forming properties (i.e., wheat, spelt and rye) and these grains will have to constitute the bulk of the dough composition for bread making. With some technical knowledge and a good imagination, many wonderful and healthful breads can be made with sprouts. / BJ