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Manna From Heaven

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    Posted: 27 June 2017 at 04:55
Y’all remember the time several of us set off on a discovery regarding Mesopotamia, barley, and how bread was made in the ancient world? Instead of doing something useful, like shooting craps in a back ally, we cumulatively spent months researching and experimenting and, all in all, having a roaring great time.

For you newer members, the record of that activity can be found here: http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/babylonian-bread_topic3336.htmlhttp://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/babylonian-bread_topic3336.html

Now I’m off on another such hunt, and I hope many of you will join me. The object of today’s lesson: Ezekiel Bread.

Haven’t heard of it? This is, and isn’t, surprising. On one hand, it’s not a common product, available in every bread isle. On the other, the internet is filled will references and recipes for it.

I had no idea what Ezekiel bread was until seeing it used as a basket ingredient in a Chopped episode. In fact, I’d never even heard of it. It appeared to be a whole grain bread, and was said to be very healthy. I was intrigued, and did a quick search. Turns out, the internet is covered up with references. Who knew?

The bread is named after chapter 4:9 in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, which translates to: “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a jar, and use them to make bread for yourself.” Thus, it is sometimes called Ezekiel 4:9. And, because some scholars believe this is actually the manna the Israelites depended on out in the desert, it can sometimes be found as Manna Bread.

Nutritionally, Ezekiel bread is nothing short of incredible. Presuming this discussion takes off, we’ll have much to say about that as we progress. But, in short, it is high protein (comparable to milk or eggs, in fact), contains all 18 essential amino acids; promotes digestibility and the absorption of minerals; increased the bioavailability of vitamins; and is a great source of fiber. Evidence indicates that some people with gluten sensitivity might be able to eat it with impunity. And those on low carb diets for health reasons---such as Type 2 diabetics---can actually benefit from eating it.

The secret behind all of this is sprouting. The grains and legumes used to make Ezekiel bread are first sprouted, then dried and ground into flour.

So, yes! As we discovered with making Mesopotamian bread, uncovering the actual process, prepping ingredients, and finding answers to many of the inherent questions, pretty much defined the quest. I suspect we’ll run into the same thing with this project.

For example: So far, all but one reference and recipe I’ve seen, for both home-made and commercially prepared Ezekiel bread, is for a risen loaf. But it seems to me, if this was the bread of a nomadic people, it’s more likely to have been a flatbread. And probably rather heavy and dense as well. Given that the grinding most likely was done in a form of mortar and pestle, I suspect it would have been a course flour, which would have contributed to the denseness.

Y’all remember how the Children of Israel yearned for the fleshpots of Egypt? Understandable if their menu mainstay was that sort of bread.

In case I haven’t been clear, I have not, as yet, actually made Ezekiel bread. So this will be a voyage of discovery for myself as well as anyone else coming along for the ride.

Let’s start with the sprouting. Most of us, at one time or another, have sprouted grains or legumes. As a foodstuff, sprouts are simple. Take a jar with a strainer lid. Put in a tablespoon or two of the appropriate seed. Cover with water. Let sit for a while, and drain. Then, once or twice a day, water and drain until the sprouts form.

For making bread, that approach won’t work because of the quantities required. We’re talking about ingredients measured in cupsful, not spoonsful. There are several approaches to this, but here’s the one I think most sensible.

Keep in mind that the grains and legumes will sprout at different rates. So do them separately. My guess is that starting the legumes a day or two ahead of the grains would work.

Put the grains/legumes in a large bowl. Fill with enough water to fully cover them. Some sources suggest the addition of a tablespoon of vinegar as well. Personally, I don’t think that’s necessary, but have not done a comparison.

Let the grains/legumes soak overnight and drain in a colander. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with paper towels. Spread the grains/legumes out in an even layer and cover with dampened paper towels. Set in a warm location. Once or twice daily, refresh the paper towels. You want to keep them damp, but not soaking wet. Probably the best way of doing this is with a spray bottle.

Keep this process going until the grains/legumes have sprouted “tails” about a quarter inch long.

Next, dry the grains/legumes. In a dehydrator this will take about 18 hours. Alternatively, use an oven, overnight, at the lowest setting.

Grind the grains/legumes. Ideally, this will be done in a grain mill. Alternatively, a blender or food processor will get the job done. Once you have the flour made you can either freeze it in jars, or start making the Ezekiel bread. You can also freeze the dried, sprouted grains/legumes and grind them when ready to use.

Hey! Nobody said it would be easy! But no matter what other changes and amendments we make, this part is crucial.

I’m very intrigued by this bread. I’ll be gathering the ingredients this week, and get started soon.

If you plan on joining me for the ride, here are the ingredients will be using:

Wheat berries (about 3 cups)
Spelt (about 2 cups)
Barley (about ¾ cup)
Millet (about ¾ cup)
Green lentils (about 3/8 cup)
Soy, mung, or other starchy beans (about 8 tablespoons)


You’ll also need honey, olive oil, active dry yeast, and salt. But I presume you already have those as staples.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 June 2017 at 10:19
I think I may have seen that episode of chopped, or at least another show that was talking about Ezekiel bread, not too long ago. It sounded interesting  to me. I think I might just join you on this ride.  My question is, what's the difference between sprouting and malting?

For example would you be able to use the malted barley that's used for beer instead of sprouting your own? Seems like exactly the same process, but from what I can tell it seems like the malting process is stopped when the roots grow from the seed, but in sprouting it's allowed continue until the actual sprout forms. Would that make a whole lot of difference?

Just thinking out loud here, but my feeble brain seems to think that the formation of the sprout would require conversion of a lot of the carbohydrates/sugars in the malted barley into energy for the sprout to grow so they would in fact be different.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 June 2017 at 11:39
I'm not exactly sure what malting is, Mike. But from your description they certainly sound similar.

For the bread, they only "soak" long enough for the roots to form tails, about a quarter inch long.

My understanding, so far, is by doing that you reduce the level of gluten in the grains, and ease the conversion of starches to sugars during the baking process.

I'll say one thing for sure: this is going to be a significant learning experience.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 June 2017 at 14:40
I've been doing some looking on and off this morning and it seems the two terms are almost identical, if not exactly the same. The only difference being the length of time the grain is allowed to sprout. In brewing the 'malted' grain is only allowed to go until the sprout just breaks the surface, where when people talk about 'sprouting' they generally seem to be letting the sprout grow more. So it should be feasible to use malted barley from a brew supply store I think.

regardless though, doing the sprouting yourself sounds like a fun experiment as well!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2017 at 11:57
Well, as they say, better late than never. I finally gathered all the ingredients, and got started with the sprouting process.

I couldn’t find whole-grain barley, however. Only things available were hulled and pearled; neither of which would sprout. So I went with the hulled, and will just use it that way.

I put the wheat and spelt together in a large bowl, covered with water. Tomorrow I’ll drain it, and set it up on a paper towel-lined sheet pan.

The beans and lentils, combined, fit very comfortably in a quart sprouting jar. As did the millet. I’m thinking there’s no reason not to leave them that way, and proceed as I normally would for sprouts; just ending the process much earlier.

Based on past experience, I’m guessing it will be three or four days before the grains/lentils are ready to go in the dehydrator.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 July 2017 at 03:16
Well, I couldn't be more wrong.

In the morning, yesterday, I drained everything, and transferred the wheat/spelt to a paper-towel-lined sheet pan. Last night, when I went to remoisten things, much of it was already starting to show root tails.

If things continue at that pace, I'll probably be putting stuff in the dehydrator today.

I've never before had things sprout in only two days.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 July 2017 at 08:05
Mike,
Here’s an update on sprouting/malting. In his Whole Grains Bread book, Peter Reinhart notes that grains are ready as soon as the root shows, rather than growing to ¼ inch as my original research indicated.

From that I conclude that sprouting and malting are exactly the same process, and the malted barley available to you should work just fine.

Interestingly, Reinhart uses the sprouted grains to create a mash, rather than drying them and grinding into flour.

I'm beginning to realize there's much more to this than initially met the eye.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 July 2017 at 08:07
Got home from work and, as I suspected, everything was ready for the dehydrator. Except the millet, which shows no signs of sprouting.

I'm thinking I may have gotten hulled millet, rather than whole grain, by mistake.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 July 2017 at 08:49
Thanks for the update Brook! I've been pretty busy around here and haven't had time to look for any ingredients, and I probably won't have time until I'm back from camping at the end of the month, but I will definitely keep this at the top of my list to try.

As for the malting/sprouting, that's good info to know! If you'd like, I have plenty of malted barley here I can send you a pound or so if you'd like to try it for your next batch. Only issue I can see is it typically includes the husks which might be a pain to separate out.

On a related note (sorry if I'm side-tracking your thread) I've seen a couple recipes that use the spent grains after brewing beer. I imagine this would be a fun experiment to see how it turns out also. I imagine you'd get all the fiber from the grains but very little sugar since most of it is extracted during the brewing process.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 July 2017 at 00:57
Hey, Mike. Thanks for the offer. I'll send my mailing address as a PM.

As to the other, side-track all you like. It just further demonstrates that there's a whole world of breads to be made using non-traditional ingredients.

If you have one handy, why not post one of those recipes?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 July 2017 at 23:45
Everything is dried and ready for grinding. I've put the ingredients up, for now, because PitRow (thanks, again, Mike) is sending me some malted barley.  So everything is on hold until it arrives.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 July 2017 at 23:40
The barley Mike sent arrived today. So now it's back to work, grinding the grains and legumes into flour.

Hopefully, I'll be able to try baking a loaf come Monday or Tuesday.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2017 at 07:42
Got to work, today, grinding the ingredients. And immediately ran into a snag: Whoever said a food processor makes a good substitute for a grain mill obviously never tried it. Or certainly not with my KitchenAid model. The best I could do with the wheat/spelt mixture resembled cracked wheat rather than flour.

If anyone has experience doing this, I’d like to hear about your experience.

Be that as it may, I turned to my spice grinder. Using small amounts at a time (about a half cup), and pausing often so as to not overheat the grains, I managed to produce a mix sort of like cornmeal. Oddly enough, the other ingredients ground much finer than the wheat. Go figure.

Could be the sprouting/drying process made them more brittle than the wheat/spelt berries. But that’s pure supposition.

On one hand, this is a little disappointing. But, on the other hand, it’s likely that the wandering Israelites ground their mixture in some form of a mortar & pestle. Or, at best, a quern (sp?). Either way, it would have been a coarse flour at best.

At any rate, we’ll see what happens when I try baking with it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 July 2017 at 00:00
Just on a whim I did a search for grain mills.  Surprise #1: There's an incredibly large number of them available.  Surprise #2: They're incredibly pricey, ranging up to about 500 clams for a manually operated mill.

I'd have to really be dedicated to making my own flours to justify that kind of investment. Especially when my more immediate goal is a professional-grade VitaMix---which carries a similar price tag.

Ah, well. If it were easy, everyone would own all this stuff.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 July 2017 at 01:43
Today’s the day!

I’ve mixed everything, and the “dough” is rising. Breads will go into the oven in about an hour.

As noted above, the web is covered up with references to Ezekiel bread, with numerous recipes. For the record, the one I’m using comes from the blog site, www.trimdownclub.com. Here it is:

How To Make Ezekiel Bread

2 ½ cups/400 g sprouted wheat berries
1 ½ cups/260 g sprouted spelt grains
½ cup/90 g sprouted barley grains
½ cup/100 g sprouted millet grains
¼ cup/44 g sprouted green lentils
6 tbls/75 g sprouted organic soy, lupin, mung, and/or other starchy beans
4 cups/900 ml warm water (not hot)
1 tbls/14 ml honey or coconut blossom nectar/syrup
½ cup/110 ml olive oil
1 ½ tbls/14 g (2 packets) active dry yeast
1 tsp/6 g salt

Preheat oven to 350 F/175C

Mix the grains with legumes. Grind them in a grain mill (or use a blender on high for several minutes) to make your flour, and then place the flour in a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, add honey, water, 1/3 cup/80 ml olive oil, yeast, and ½ cup/120 g of the flour mixture. Stir together, then let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes until bubbly.

After that time has passed, add the remaining flour mixture and the salt. Stir until thoroughly mixed. The mixture will look more like cake or cookie batter than standard bread dough.

Grease two 9x5 inch/23x13cm loaf pans with the remaining oil. Pour in the batter mixture, and set aside in a warm place for about an hour to let it rise.

Place pans in preheated oven, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until loaves are golden brown.

Store tightly wrapped in a cool, dry place. Will keep for up to 3 days unrefrigerated, 2 weeks refrigerated. Freeze for indefinite storage.

Because this is such an incredible different approach from traditional breads, I wanted to follow the recipe precisely. Alas, due to my own errors, and lack of a grain mill (see above) it didn’t quite work out that way.

For starters: Having no idea who raw grains would translate to sprouted ones in terms of mass and weight, I overbought each of them slightly, figuring I could measure after the fact. However, I didn’t think things through, and combined ingredients ahead of time. For instance, the wheat and spelt were sprouted together. Ditto the lentils and beans.

To get around that, I used the totals in each case. That is, I started with 4 cups total of wheat/spelt. Hopefully, the ratios will be close enough to make no never mind.

Where choices are offered I used mung beans and honey.

When adding the flour to the liquid the mix tends to be lumpy. So I used a whisk to help break up the lumps and make a smooth batter. I also let the batter rest five minutes before loading the loaf pans, to assure even hydration.

I only have one loaf pan of the appropriate size, so used it and the next size up. Shouldn’t make that much of a difference, but we’ll see once they’re risen fully. The recipe doesn’t specify, so I filled each pan about halfway.

At this point, halfway through the rise time, they look good. Both pans are filling nicely, and, proportionately look the same in terms of height. So I’m confident they will work out.

Stay tuned. There’s more to come.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 July 2017 at 06:10
Later: After an hour the batter had risen almost to the top of each pan. Given the batter-like consistency, I didn’t think they rise higher than that. Hopefully, there will be some degree of oven spring. I transferred them to the oven. After about 25 minutes I’ll rotate the pans, to assure even baking. Should know, then, whether there’s additional expansion.

25 minutes later: Rather than rising higher, both breads have collapsed. :>( I suspect this is a function of the grind; everything was just too coarse, and the gluten strands couldn’t form properly. I’ll let them finish baking, just to see what happens. But I suspect they will be incredibly dense---the way I envisioned them being made in the desert.

Well, I’d have to call this one a failure. After 50 minutes the breads were collapsed, sides and top crisp as though they’d be fried, and the centers still uncooked. Trying to unmold them, they broke through the middle, with half the loaf coming out and the balance stuck in the pans.

The parts I could salvage were tasty, to be sure; nut-like, yeasty, and full bodied. But, until such time as I can grind the ingredients properly, this one goes on hold. Disappointing, but what can you do?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2017 at 12:34
Thanks for the report Brook! I'm back from camping and going to start sourcing ingredients for this to give it my own try. Regarding the grind, two or three ideas come to mind.

 First, if you have a homebrewing supply store close they often have manual grinders available for customers to grind grains, though I have a feeling they'd be set a little too course for our purposes here.

Second, Corona style grain mills can be had for about $30 or less. They're not the best from what I understand and tend to tear the grain instead of crush it but might be a starting point.

Third the vitamix that you mention. I have my parents old school 80s model and I'm quite certain I've seen in the instruction manual that it talks about crushing grains and that the back side of the blades are blunt specifically for this purpose so that they pulverize the grain instead of cutting it. I'll confirm when I get home. This would obviously be the best route, though also the most expensive.

I'll take some more time to read through your report tonight, as I'm at work now and just skimmed it, but it looks like a good start with some pointers for me to try. I'll get going on ordering the grains here in the next day or two. Thanks for this thread!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2017 at 17:14
My concern with the VitaMix is that it might overheat the grains. They say you can make hot soup in them in just six minutes, because the blades heat up so much. I'm presuming that's at high speed.

Contrarywise, VitaMix offers an optional 32 ounce "dry grains" container. The pix look just like the regular 32 ouncer, so I'm not sure what the difference is. But the implication is that you can grind whole grains with the machine.

The unit comes with both an instructional book and a CD. So I'll know more when it arrives.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2017 at 19:35
ah yes, the heat would be a valid concern. I don't know about 6 minutes, but I've made clam chowder in mine, but I think it was closer to 15 minutes to heat up. I suppose a pulsed approach might help, but then would also take a lot longer. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Yesterday at 02:12
Well, the unit should arrive in about a week, and then we'll know for sure.

My understanding with the Corona and similar type mills is that they do not grind particularly finely. They're good for making cereals, for instance, and things like bulgur. But not flour.

Like everything else in this world, I reckon you get what you pay for.

Did have a coincidental chuckle yesterday, though. Was in BBB, and there was a display of VitaMixers next to the shelf holding all their other blenders. A woman was propounding to her friend, "My God! Why would anyone pay $400 for a blender when there are perfectly good ones for 30!" I refrained from pointing out that the display included only their low-end models.
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