What on earth are sprouted flours?
Sprouted flours are the latest California health trend making waves this side of the pond. But what on earth are they? We took a sprouted flours masterclass at Bread Ahead bakery in London in to find out…
Sprouted flours sound like something lurking at the back of your cupboards. In fact they’re becoming popular with healthy eating experts like Vicki Edgson and bakers like Edd Kimber and Frances Quinn from The Great British Bake Off because of their nutritious properties and nutty flavour.
Most grains are harvested and milled before they’ve had a chance to sprout. While this might make fine and light flours, it also removes most of the goodness. But if you leave grains like wheat, oats and barley for longer, they start sprouting, which apparently makes them more nutritious (richer in Vitamins B and C for starters) and easier to digest, as the starches in the grains are broken down into simple sugars.
Rude Health recently launched the UK’s first sprouted flours range. Intrigued, I took a masterclass at Bread Ahead in London’s Borough Market, where we made bread with the brand’s sprouted spelt flour.
Bread Ahead’s Aidan Chapman is a dough guru. He shows us how to make a no-knead boule. It’s a simple recipe that shouldn’t scare off bread-making novices: “my 7-year-old daughter makes this bread,” he assures us.
We also learned several tricks from Aiden. At home, he bakes bread in a Le Creuset to give it good shape. He also shows us how to slash the top of the loaf (carefully!) with a razor blade to release steam. The sprouted spelt flour replaces white flour like-for-like in this recipe, and Aiden says he’s had great results using the products in cookies and hot cross buns, too. For pizza bases or airy cakes, you can also use half sprouted flours and half regular ones. The workshop has proved to me how easy it is to use these nutty, nutritious flours in my favourite recipes. Well if it’s good enough for the baking experts…
Sprouted spelt boule
Makes 1 large, round loaf
- 500g sprouted spelt flour
- 400g cold water
- 10g fine sea salt
- 5g fresh yeast (available from good bakeries or online)
- Place your flour in a bowl. Weigh the 400g of water in a separate container. Add the fresh yeast to the water and stir using your fingertips until fully dissolved.
- Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeasted water. Use your hand like a fork to gently bring the mixture together, just until all the flour and water are combined and you have a sticky dough. Cover and leave for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, add the salt and a splash of cold water (about 10g) and gently stretch the salt through the dough. Cover the dough and leave in the fridge for 8 hours.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and generously dust a bread proving basket (available from cookware shops or online) with sprouted flour. Take your dough out of its bowl and use your hands to shape it into a firm, round shape.
- Place the dough into the proving basket with the seam side up (this will be the bottom of your loaf which means the top won’t have a join in it). Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for a further two hours at room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/gas 8. Dust a medium Le Creuset or similar round cast-iron pot with polenta.
- Carefully remove the bread from the proving basket and place it into the pot, seam side down.
- Very carefully score the top of the dough with a sharp, clean razor blade, then place the lid on the pot and put it into the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then a further 10 minutes with the lid off.
- Remove from the oven, tip the bread out of the pot onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool for a good 30 minutes before eating. Best eaten the same day.