Flourless Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread

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Vegan Flourless Sprouted Wheat Bread

Traditional flour is ground endosperm powder which is the result of the flour mill removing most of the hard pieces and hence, nutrition from the wheat berry. I'm a huge fan of whole sprouted grains because they're more flavorful and contain significantly more nutrients than bread made with traditional flour. This Flourless Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread recipe utilizes sprouted wheat berries that are then ground into a purée. This requires a substantially hardy food processor. If you're not sure if your food processor is powerful enough, look on the bottom. It should say at least 6.5 Amps or "6.5 A". 

This bread was difficult to design due to the nature of the wheat berry. This hardy seed contains the germ which is the heart and soul of the seed. The germ is the embryo of the plant in its dormant state. It's is accompanied by the starchy endosperm which acts as fuel for the germ when it sprouts or germinates. This package is encased in a firm fibrous shell called the bran. This protects the seed kind of like an egg shell protects an egg. 

The science of sprouting wheat berries and making them into bread

In order to make bread from wheat berries, the wheat berries need to be softened so they can later be ground into a powder. Soaking the berries then allowing them to germinate for a couple days softens the berries. The germination step also has the advantage of releasing more nutrients as the seed prepares to become a plant. But what causes the germ to turn into a sprout and grow? During the soaking of the berries, enzymes called amylases in the bran layer become active and start to infiltrate the starch granules in the endosperm. Starches are made up of complex sugars which are made up of strings of glucose molecules. The amylases break the glucose molecules off of the starches into smaller groups of sugars consisting of one, two and three glucose molecules. Think of the amylase molecules cutting Fruit Loops off of a Fruit Loops necklace so they're smaller and easier for you to eat. Like us eating Fruit Loops, the germ happens to love these small sugars so it begins to grow and the seed continues to soften. This germination step assists leavening in breads because yeast also prefers glucose for it to function optimally.

Note: This is why some bakers, including yours truly, love storing bread doughs in the refrigerator overnight. It gives the amylases time to do their work while the cold temperatures keep the yeast dormant. The excess sugars in the dough and the increased amylase activity generates a more flavorful loaf with more yeast activity.

Once the seeds have sprouted to no more than ¾ the length of the grain, they're ground. The best way to do this is with a flour mill. I didn't want to disservice vegan bakers by instructing them to buy home flour mills that cost up to hundreds of dollars just to make flourless sprouted breads. There must be a better way to easily enjoy this uinique style of bread. If you do splurge on a home flour mill, you'll be rewarded with considerably fluffier and lighter bread. I settled on using a food processor to grind the wheat berries into a purée which results in an extremely dense, hearty loaf with chunks of wheat berries. I only recommend making this bread if you adore whole wheat breads. If you have a plush, soft spot for fluffy white breads I advise you to avoid this recipe.

As the endosperm hydrates, proteins contained within it called glutenin and gliadin unravel. Kneading, rest time or both contribute to the binding of these proteins into gluten. Gluten is a high protein, pliable rubbery mass that holds the bread together and acts like a net to trap rising C02 bubbles given off by the yeast.

Once the berries have been puréed, salt is kneaded in. This salt has a slight protective effect which lessens the chances that pathogenic microbes growing in the dough before the amylases can get their start. The dough is then left to rise and proof in a bread pan just as with normal flour-based bread.

The problem with bran husks

There is a reason there is a flour milling industry that's been considerably successful during the last several hundred years. The wheat berry doesn't lend itself well to the breads we know and love. The bran layer is the main culprit here due to how it cuts through the dough, severing critical gluten bonds as it's kneaded. The bran also acts as a barrier which blocks glutenin and gliadin from even getting the chance to join in the first place. Talk about a missed opportunity. Since these gluten bonds aren't able to be fully developed the bread is unable to hold the rising C02 coming off the yeast and the loaf results in a powdery brick.

In the course of developing this recipe I actually gave up at one point due to the amount of loaves I was producing that resembled fireplace sawdust wax logs. Maybe I could market these in cold climates and start a whole new industry? The flavor also wasn't interesting enough to justify the several days of preparation time. Finally, the bread crumbled while being sliced. The gluten just wasn't able to make strong enough bonds to hold the loaf together.

Still having some wheat berries in my pantry, I decided to give it another go. After I ground the soaked and sprouted wheat berries I had to step out before kneading in the yeast and other ingredients so I gathered the wheat berry purée into a ball and placed it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a few days. When I finally got around to making the bread I noticed it was rising while being baked! And the taste. The taste! The bread was like sourdough bread but didn't involve using a the traditional sourdough starter. Why was this happening? 

My Eureka! bread moment

It turns out that leaving the wheat berry purée to sit and rest or ripen was the missing link for this bread. During ripening a couple things happen. The stiff bran husk gets a chance to hydrate and soften considerably. This softening allows them to become flexible to the point of where they don't inhibit gluten development like they used to. The other miracle that happens during ripening is flavor development. As the wheat berries are sprouting out in the open, as the amylases are converting much of the starches in the germ to sugars, the wheat berries are also getting inoculated by natural airborne yeasts and bacterias such as Lactobacillus. When the wheat berry purée is allowed to rest, these bacterias and yeasts consume the sugars and impart flavors such as lactic acid as byproducts. This flavor development is exactly what happens in wild yeast starters involved in sourdough bread baking.

This bread is unique in that it rises extremely slowly. This is due to the bran husks creating tiny channels that allow the yeast's C02 to escape. Once I discovered the results after the ripening of the wheat berry purée I was able to refine my methods and develop the recipe below.

Find more Flourless recipes on Veganbaking.net

Flourless Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

3 ¼ cups (620 grams) wheat berries (hard red winter wheat preferred)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ¼ teaspoons, or one ¼ ounce package active dry yeast

1) Soak the wheat berries

Soak the wheat berries for 18 to 24 hours. Drain then sprout the wheat berries, rinsing 2 to 3 times per day until the sprout is no more than ¾ the length of the grain. This should take about 24 to 36 hours and will vary depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. If the berries sprout and you don't have time to proceed to Step 2, place them in the refrigerator to slow their sprouting rate down. Here's more information on sprouting grains

2) Process the wheat berries and allow them to ripen

Add about half of the wheat berries to a food processor and sprinkle half the salt over them. Process until the mixture comes together into a ball which should take a minute or so. Stop the food processor and use a spatula to work around the perimeter of the food processor and push the mixture back down to the blades. Process again until the mixture gets too thick to mix any further and the blades just spin underneath, or about 1 minute. Transfer the wheat berry purée to a clean counter.
Process the other half of the wheat berries just as you did the first, taking care to add the other half of the salt. Add this wheat berry purée to the first batch on the counter and knead for about a minute to ensure the salt is evenly distributed throughout the whole mixture. 
Form all of the wheat berry purée into a tight ball and place it in an airtight covered container. Leave the container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. This step is crucial because it allows the bran layer to soften and the amylase enzymes to break out sugar for the yeast to eat. Leaving the purée out also allows the bread to develop a complex sourdough flavor. If you don't prefer sourdough flavors, leave your purée out for no more than about 12 hours.
Feel free to taste the wheat berry purée and allow it to sour to your liking. Once its ripened to your preferred sourness either move to Step 3 immediately or freeze it for later use. If you place it in the refrigerator it will keep ripening. It's also important to not ripen the purée for more than 2 days because it can start to go rancid and become unsafe to eat. This can happen when the current residential yeasts and bacteria eat all the available sugars they can and die off, leaving the environment open to different types of harmful microbes. If your dough becomes rancid or you’re not sure if it’s safe to eat, discard it.

3) Add the yeast and knead the dough

Transfer the wheat berry purée to a clean counter, sprinkle the dry yeast over it and knead for no less than 20 minutes. The knead is lengthy to ensure as much glutenin and gliadin, as possible is drawn out of the wheat kernels and activated into gluten. It also allows the yeast to hydrate, become active and disperse into the dough. It’s fascinating to see how the gluten develops throughout the kneading process here! Towards the end of the knead you’ll start seeing extremely long strands of gluten develop.

4) Allow the yeast to get active

Transfer the dough to a medium mixing bowl and form it into a ball. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and let it sit for about 1 ½ hours. This dough will not rise considerably because the bran husks create tiny channels that allow the yeast's C02 gas to escape instead of contribute to leavening. Most of the leavening in this bread is done during the proofing stage which is the second rise after it has been placed in a loaf pan.

5) Allow the bread to rise

Form the dough into a lightly oiled loaf pan, cover it with a plastic bag and and let it sit for about another 1 ½ to 3 hours. A loaf pan is essential here. This dough is too moist to bake in a freeform hearth style and will flatten considerably if baked in this manner. This is the part where your bread will do most of its leavening. This process will take longer due to the weight of the dough and the dough not being completely airtight due to the wheat berry and bran particles.

6) Bake to perfection

About 45 minutes before you’re going to bake the bread, Preheat your oven to 350F (177C). Bake until the internal temperature of the bread measured with an instant-read thermometer registers 180 to 190F (77 to 82C). If you don't have a thermometer, this is about 60 to 65 minutes. Remove from the pan when cooled completely. I recommend slicing this bread and storing it in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer. Stored this way it will keep for several months. This recipe makes one loaf of Flourless Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread.

Sprouted wheat berries

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Sprouted Wheat Bread

After sprouting the wheat berries and using my food processor, the result is so gooey/sticky that kneading is impossible, so I simply stirred the mixture. Did I perhaps sprout the berries too long? Any ideas?

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I just made this bread and my whole (extremely picky eaters) family loved it, and I already started sprouting the next batch of wheat.
I was just wondering, how much calories contains the whole bread or 100g of it, or whatever measure of it.

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Hi, I just started experimenting with sour dough and wanted to know more about sprouted grain bread, this is where I came across your site. Could I use the sour dough culture instead of yeast? if yes would it be the usual 200 grams I add to a standard sour dough and would I add before or after grinding?
Appreciate your advice, thanks.

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Something to point out -

6.5 Ampers is regarded to a 110V network - International users of 220V divide in half.

A better universal indicator would be 715Watt and higher = 110V*6.5A

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I'm trying this right now, and I noticed the ground up seeds staring to rise while ripening, no yeast added yet. It smells just fine, but I'm wondering if this is just sourdough developing. You never said anything about the dough rising at this stage.

Owner's reply

Great question Mama78! As the seeds are sprouting they're rapidly converting starches to sugars. Naturally occurring yeast is starting to eat the sugars and release C02, causing the mixture to rise slightly. I haven't noticed major cases of this rise in my particular testing but it's a perfectly fine, natural process. Hope everything worked out!

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I am looking forward to trying this! Is it possible to swap out wheat berries with spelt?

Owner's reply

Hi Carla! I don't recommend making this bread with 100% spelt instead of wheat. Spelt doesn't have enough gluten to hold the bread together. However you should be able to make this bread with heirloom wheat grains such as einkhorn, emmer or kamut, or blends of all three. Also, you could probably get by with using up to 25% spelt.

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I have yet to try leaving the dough out overnight. I will try that next time. I'm thinking that I would not put yeast in the dough if I'm leaving it out or it will ruin the batch. Perhaps a very small amount of yeast or add the yeast the following day....

You can buy sprouted wheat flour, but as with all flours, once it is ground the nutrients dissipate very quickly. I sprout and grind as I need it. Sprouted wheat flour is different from non sprouted. It requires much less kneading. The way to tell is take a small amount of dough (marble size) and stretch it out. You should be able to stretch it out with your fingers until it is very thin. When you hold it up to the light you can see through it. Thats when you stop kneading. It will also be very sticky.

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Thank you for all the details explaining the nutritional value of the sprouted wheat. And, for your specific directions about how long to knead and rise. This would explain why my first loaf turned out like a brick. Instead of sprouting my own wheat berries can I just use Sprouted Whole Hard Wheat Flour? Thanks.

Owner's reply

Hi Carol Joy,

In this particular recipe, sprouted wheat flour probably wouldn't work because since it's been ground smaller and dried out more, it's going to call for different ratios of flour to water. You'd have better luck using sprouted wheat flour as the regular flour in another bread recipe. Good luck!

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I sprout my wheat the same as you, then I dehydrate 2/3 of it in a dehydrator overnight. I then grind in into flour. The other 1/3 I use the water that I would use to make the bread with, and whip it into a batter in my Vita-Mix. I add flour, honey, salt, yeast, gelatin (1 tsp per loaf. It hold the bread together and is very healthful.) I then knead it into a dough in my Blend Tec for about 4 minutes. Put it into bread pans, let it rise until double and bake for 35 mins at 325. Awesome!

I am going to try leaving the yeast out overnight while the dough ripens to see if I can get the sourdough taste..

Owner's reply

That sounds like a really great method Rick! Thanks for sharing that. I wonder if you placed the dough in the refrigerator overnight if you'd have enough gluten development to make the gelatin unnecessary and more flavor development due to amylase enzymes breaking out more sugar from the starch in the wheat berries. Of course, this would require leaving the dough out at room temperature for hours so the yeast could get going again, adding more steps to the recipe.

I sold my dehydrator during a coast-to-coast move but now I really need to get one again so I can try your method!

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(Updated: October 24, 2013)

Rye Berries

Today I tried this using sprouted rye berries that I ground in my omega juicer and let set out for 24 hours in a container with lid, then I add yeast, malted barley and caraway seeds. I let rise for 1 hour and then panned it and let it set for another 3 hours and I am baking it now at 350 for about 55 min. I also did not kneed it for 20 min only until the caraway, yeast and malted barley were mixed in well. maybe abut 10 min. I will let you know the results with pictures when I am ready to take it out of the pan.
Well the flavor was amazing the texture on the other had ....middle was "gummy" outside hard and cooking it at that temp and time was over cooked. I will continue to work on it. I think next time I am going to try it in the dehydrator I will make it like a flat bread.

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Best bread ever

Just what I've been looking for. This bread is hearty and was easy to make... Even though it takes several days. I sprouted 4 cups of red wheat berries in Sproutamo sprouting system...extremely simple, no rinsing.used a meat grinder attachment to my old oester kitchen center. Then stored one day at room temp... Wonderful sour dough flavor! Kneaded with dough hooks for 20 minutes. Let rise in two small bread pans four hours. Baked one hour at 350F. Thanks for this excellent description of making a flourless sprouted grain bread!

Owner's reply

So glad this bread worked out so well for you Bruce! It took a long time for me to figure out the ins and outs of sprouted wheat breads and I'm still learning. Great that you used a meat grinder on the wheat berries. I can't wait to try that!

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pan size?

...hi, i hope this question doesn't sound too silly, but i'm new to this....is the size of the bread pan important, and will i bake it in the pan?...thanks so much....Lindsay..:)

Owner's reply

No question is ever too silly lindsay! Thanks for asking. The size of the bread pan is important because it can change the way the bread absorbs heat and lets go of moisture during baking. I call for a regular loaf pan in the recipe which is roughly 4 x 8 inches in size. It gets baked in the pan then removed after it cools completely. Good luck!

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grinding the wheat

I have made sprouted grain many times while living in Alaska. To grind the sprouted grain, I took the filter screen out of my champion juicer and put in the blank. It comes out sort of hamburger like. Just about what you want for baking, then form into loaves and I usually bake all day at about 105 to preserve the enzymes, in Arizona I would just put it in the sun in the morning and turn it over about noon ,and it was ready to eat by the end of the day. I made a lot of Essene bread doing this. Never tried letting it sit overnight but will give that a try soon. I will give this a try in my solar oven too.

Owner's reply

Hi takujohn! I'm totally getting a Champion juicer to try this, among other things. Great to know that it actually works to grind wheat berries as you described! The long, low temperature bake sounds interesting. I'll have to give that a shot.

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WIll this recipe work if I skip adding the yeast? Thanks!

Owner's reply

Hi ShannanP3! This bread recipe definitely won't work if you don't add the yeast. It will turn out being a dense brick of wheat berry purée.

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At what point do you add the Yeast???

Owner's reply

Hi Auntie Lo! I just clarified Step 3 a little to make it more clear about adding the yeast. Thanks for the feedback!

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Whole Grain Rye?

Hey Mattie- am super pumped to try this

I'm also curious to make a whole grain Rye loaf with rye berries. Aside from the fact that rye has a lower gluten content than flour, I can't think of any reason it wouldn't work. I'll likely try adding a smidge of vital wheat gluten to the rye to bind it together.

Have you got any experience making a whole grain rye loaf? Would love any pearls of wisdom you may have go share.

Other Info

Owner's reply

Hi Eatibledotca!

I actually have been working on a pumpernickel rye bread similar to this on and off for awhile. It doesn't currently work for me due to the lack of gluten. Rye contains a starchy, gelatinous compound called pentosans which can aid in binding to a certain degree, but they can quickly become over activated and turn the dough into a gooey mess. Adding gluten flour would probably be a workable solution in this case. I'm looking into ditching the added yeast in future batches of the rye version and just having a dense, sour loaf like true German pumpernickel bread in the future. I'll email you my recipe notes on this bread so you can experiment with it!

Regarding this Flourless Sprouted Wheat recipe, I'm also looking into a possible wild yeasting of a portion of the dough then combining it with the rest of the dough to have a truly wild fermentation that leavens a little more aggressively. In this case, the wild yeasted dough would be "fed" fresh dough and embark on a more powerful leaven. Currently, I think the initial bulk dough rest/fermentation is inhibiting the added yeast, making it rather ineffective. Let me know if you find out any tricks! I'm always looking to make my recipes as good as they can possibly be.

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Instead of blasting the berries in a food processor you should get a bench top mincer/meat grinder works a treat and you don't end up with whole berries in your bread...

Owner's reply

That's a great idea! I've been wanting to get one of those. And so my list of kitchen appliances grows.

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I have tried this twice now and I have a couple questions... The first time I (like the other reviewer) sprouted them too long, as I just came across the recipe. I had a very very liquidy mixture also. I followed all the steps anyway, and basically had a flat bread that had incredible flavor. So I tried again, only sprouting for as long as you advised. Same problem.
So my questions - my wheat berries are the lighter variety (soft, I think)... not the dark brown yours are. Could this be part of it? Also, could I dry the sprouted berries for a while and see if that leads to a puree that can actually be molded (instead of being a wet mess)?
I'm so interested to get this right as the soured flavor is absolutely mindblowing! And thank you for the wonderful post - so detailed and interesting!

Owner's reply

Hi Lisa!

I just wanted to let you know that I just spent a couple weeks completely revising this recipe so it uses less ingredients, is easier to follow and is more consistent. The dough is less moist but still requires a loaf pan so it keeps shape while baking. The wheat berries being soft white or hard winter shouldn't matter much in this recipe. Both types should still have enough gluten to produce a hearty bread. Thanks so much for your interest and let me know how it works if you get around to giving it another shot!

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I let the wheat berries sprout for about 4-5 days. I am on step 4 right now and the mixture is very liquidity. Is it alright to use these wheat berries or do I need to make a new batch?

Owner's reply

Hi courtneyannie, 4-5 days is too long for sprouting. You shouldn't need to go past 36 about hours. At this point the wheat berries have probably sprouted into grass and are probably going to lend a strong grassy taste to the bread. Also, during the sprouting process, lots of the starches that would have been used for the bread have been used up by the grass sprouts during their growth. I'm unsure why this would make the dough excessively liquidy. As long as the dough doesn't smell or taste rancid, you might want to just bake it anyway and see what happens. Good luck!

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Excellent Bread

This was so easy and so delicious. I've tried other Sprouted bread recipes before that I believe were over complicated and came out to dense or bland in flavor. Allowing the dough to sour for a day I think was key. Can't wait to try it again. Perhaps I'll try it with some sprouted Rye incorporated or maybe with some cinnamon and raisins. This Recipe is a definite Keeper

Owner's reply

This bread was pretty challenging to develop to be easy to follow and work consistently. It's great that people are having success outside my kitchen. Thanks for sharing HealthyFighter and I'm glad it worked out!

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