I stopped eating a lot of bread when I started studying nutrition and realized how it makes me feel.  It’s an occasional treat, and sometimes necessity, but it’s certainly not something I typically go out of my way to make.  But with this hot, hot summer starting up, I’m not much feeling like my steaming bowl of oatmeal in the morning.  I want something easy and more importantly, cool. 

This desire led me to this awesome recipe, which I adapted slightly from Peter Reinhart’s awesome Whole Grain Breads book.  This is 100% Sprouted Spelt Bread.  Sprouted bread is incredibly nutritionally for a few reasons.  First, sprouting the grains makes many vitamins and nutrients more bio-accessible – vitamins A, B-complex, C, and multiple minerals.  In addition, it makes both the carbohydrates more digestible and partially breaks down the gluten, making that more digestible as well.  With a mild gluten intolerance, I can eat it and feel just great. 

The resulting bread is dense, chewy, incredibly flavorful thanks to the sprouting step, and probably only takes about 30 minutes of actual hands-on time.  Now, that 30 minutes is spread out over about 1 1/2-2 days, but the steps are very easy and quickly become second-nature.

Here’s what you need:
2 1/2 cups raw spelt berries (you can sub wheat berries)
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1 bread loaf pan
a big bowl
non-stick spray or a little oil to grease the pan

Here’s what you do, along with total elapsed time with each step (this is not the hands-on time, which is much less):
1) 8-24 hours: Rinse the spelt berries in cool or cold water.  Then cover them with several inches of water and let them soak at room temperature for 8-24 hours.
2) 12-16 hours: Drain and rinse the berries, then place them back in the bowl and cover.  You want the berries to be damp but not sitting in water, as these are the required conditions for sprouting.  Don’t let the berries dry out completely – rinse them and add them back into the bowl as needed.  Many recommend rinsing them every 4 hours, but I’ve successfully sprouted the berries by rinsing them around dinnertime, again before bed, and then they’ve been done in the morning.  You’ll know they’ve sprouted when you see a small white tail emerging from one end of the seed.   The berries will also have a pleasant sour-dough like smell to them. 
3) 5 minutes: Once the berries have sprouted, rinse them, then you can use them right away or store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.  When you’re ready to make the bread you need to process them into a dough.  Place the berries in a food processor (I have also ground them in my omega  juicer) and process into a fine pulp.  After a minute or two add the water, honey, yeast, and salt.  Process as long as you can without heating up the mixture.  At some point the dough will form a ball and just whirl around the food processor – you’re done at this point. 
4) 2 minutes: Take the dough out of processor and knead it with wet hands, on a slightly wet surface (just sprinkle with water), until the dough feels elastic and dough-like.  It’s going to be very sticky, and that’s ok. 
5) 60 minutes: Place it in a large oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest on the counter on in an unheated oven for about an hour.  It will expand by about 1 1/2 times.
6) 60 minutes: Grease your loaf pan and transfer the dough to the pan.  Spray the top of the bread with a little non-stick spray, or brush it with oil or butter.  Cover it again and let it rise for another 45-60 minutes.
7) 60 minutes: Heat your oven to 425 degrees, then pop in the bread.  Immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 45 minutes, until it’s cooked through (200 degrees F).  Remove the bread from the pan (it should come out easily, otherwise continue to bake for 5 minutes), and place on a cooling rack.  Once cool, eat it or store in an airtight container or plastic bag. 

As you can see, all you really need is about a day and a half of time to soak/sprout the berries, then a 3-hour timeframe when you can pop into the kitchen a few times, for 3-5 minutes at a time.  It seems like a lot of steps at first, but once you go through it you’ll see how easy it is.  The resulting loaf, admitedly, isn’t much to look at.  I thought I did something wrong the first time I baked it, because it was so dense and almost seemed to shrink a little in the oven.  But then I tasted it, and honestly, it takes better than any other whole grain bread I know of, and it’s incredibly moist.  The sprouting process seems to give the grains an almost sour-dough like flavor.  It’s delicious warm with a little butter.  And you can’t beat the nutritional cred with a stick.  Give it a try and Eat Happy!

Side note: if you want a fluffier loaf, you can add 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten to the mixing step.  I have never done this as I don’t want the extra gluten.  But the original recipe states that this additional will make the loaf rise higher and be significantly lighter and fluffier.