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Baking a Better, Healthy Bread
Circle
Jill Grosman

By Jill Grosman (EA Carolina Meadows Resident)

Many of us have cooked and baked our way through this pandemic, which has its good side and its bad side. Barry and I determined that if we were going to be home cooking and not doing much else in terms of exercise except walking, we needed to be careful about what we consumed. Over the months we have been confined to home, we reviewed many recipes and tried out a fair number.

One recipe that really worked for us was a Seeded Whole Grain Soda Bread recipe that I made several different ways before coming up with a version that we really enjoy. First of all, it does not use yeast which was difficult to get for a while. Second, it doesn’t need a lot of kneading or rising. I make the initial mixture the night before by leaving it in a bowl overnight instead of cooking it for two hours. I enjoying knowing that I am cooking and sleeping at the same time. Then, in the morning I finish the recipe, score a cross in the top with a sharp knife, pop it in the oven for about an hour and 10 minutes, let it cool completely, then cut it into the four sections made by the scoring and freeze three sections, keeping the fourth to enjoy fresh out of the oven.

Barry has found that with the combination of whole wheat, spelt and rye flours that I use, and Agave as the sweetener, his blood sugar does not spike.   Remember that baking requires equivalent amounts of dry and liquid ingredients even if you change what the specific ingredients are. Therefore, I use Agave sweetener in this bread instead of brown rice syrup or a light molasses.

The recipe calls for 3 cups of whole wheat flour and one cup of white flour. Therefore, you need four cups of flour total. Currently I use 2 cups of stone-ground-whole-wheat flour, 1 cup of spelt flour and 1 cup of rye flour. You may like it with all whole wheat, or all spelt, or another combination entirely.

When we begin, the first three ingredients are not always what we already have waiting around in our kitchen. I once checked for equivalent ingredients because all I had was quinoa flour. It turned out that I could use the quinoa for both the millet and the amaranth. Therefore my 10 – 12 hour overnight mixture is now quinoa flour (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 1 cup of old fashioned oats and 1 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of water. I cover it and set on the counter.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup millet
  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons amaranth
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2¼ cups buttermilk, divided, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds, plus more for topping
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons brown rice syrup or mild-flavored (light) molasses

RECIPE PREPARATION

Mix millet, quinoa, amaranth, 1 cup oats, 1 cup buttermilk, and ½ cup water in a small bowl. Cover and let sit 8–12 hours. (Alternatively, bring ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and let sit until mixture is thick like porridge, about 2 hours.)

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil an 8″-diameter cast-iron skillet or cake pan. Whisk whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseed, salt, baking soda, and ¼ cup sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Work in butter with your fingers until largest pieces are pea-size. Make a well in the center and add brown rice syrup, oat mixture, remaining 1¼ cups buttermilk, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth, homogenous, and still slightly sticky.

Form dough into a ball and place in prepared pan. Brush with buttermilk; top with more oats and sunflower seeds. Cut a large X into the top and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of loaf registers 190°, 55–70 minutes. Let cool in pan.

Do Ahead: Bread can be baked 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Freezes well.

Enjoy!

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