Whole wheat and semolina sourdough bread with rye mash
Let's talk bread. I'm experimenting with a new bread technique that even the most experienced bread bakers may not know about. It's the technique of sprouting and mashing grains. What does that mean? Here's a quick rundown for you.
Grains are packed full of complex carbohydrates or starch. These are long chains of sugar molecules that will fuel the growth of the plant when you add water. When a plant sprouts, the enzymes in the plant are activated and convert that starch into sugar for the plant.
If you sprout grains and then grind them up with water and cook them at about 150 degrees F, that is literally "the sweet spot" for the enzymes to covert starches to sugars. What you get is a complex and sweet slurry or "mash" made from whole grains that you can use to make bread. Beer brewers have figured this out too. They call it "wort." They add yeast to the slurry which eats the sugars and converts it into alcohol.
In bread baking, what the mash produces is a sweeter, more complex tasting bread with a more moist crumb. It is really quite amazing to be able to produce a sweet moist bread with nothing but grain, water and salt. I do have to give credit here to Peter Reinhart and his Whole Grain Baking book. He has a couple of outstanding mash bread recipes that use flour or spent grains rather than sprouted grains. He's definitely onto something when it comes to using mash for maximum flavor development in bread, which I why I am pursing this technique further.
These breads were baked in the adobe oven in the background.
So, here's my contribution. I use whole rye grain. Rye sprouts the fastest and has the greatest amount of enzymes producing the sweetest mash.
2 C whole rye berries
Soak them in a bowl of cool water overnight. In the morning, pour off all the water and place the berries in a colander or spouting tray so the berries are moist but not in standing water. Cover the colander with a cloth or plastic. Every 6-8 hours, stir the berries and rinse them with water so they don't start to grow weird stuff. There should be no "off" smells from this process. If you smell anything putrid, throw it away and start again. In 24-36 hours, your rye should have sprouts 75-100% the length of the rye berries.
Once sprouted, dump all the berries in a food processor and let it run until the berries are all chopped into a lumpy paste. Put the paste in a pot and add 4 C of 165 degree water. Stir and cover. Then place in a 150 degree oven for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, you will have your sweet mash. Let it cool and put it in the fridge.
I use this slurry to replace all the water in my bread recipes.
But Dave! How much do you use? Is it a one-to-one ratio? Post a recipe! Give me something to work with here. Can I use this in my bread machine?
First, let me say that God gave you two bread machines. Your left hand and your right hand. No commercial machine can replace a baker's hands when it comes to knowing if you need more or less liquid in your dough. For a good primer, check out my post on dough.
Second, yes, I will post a recipe someday soon. What's most important here is the technique. You can adapt this and use it with any bread recipe. If you play around with bread baking, you should be able to use this in a recipe without too much trouble. Your dough will be slightly stickier than usual, so you'll want to look and feel more for the usual density and shape of your dough rather than the tackiness or feel of the outside of the dough.
Feel free to post questions if you have them.