Biscuits are the quintessential farmhouse food, next to maybe a loaf of fresh baked bread. They are the perfect quick food for a slower life style. Faster than baking bread, yet just as hearty.
Today we are sharing with you our basic sprouted wheat biscuit recipe. One we often throw together when we have been working out in the garden or when we have been busy in the tea studio. But this ain't any ole' biscuit recipe now.
These biscuits are made with sprouted whole wheat. Why sprout the wheat you ask?
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"The chief things for man's life is water and bread, and clothing, and a house to cover shame." Ecclesiasticus XXIX, 27. Today we are sharing our recipe for the staff of life, that foodstuff that man has had for thousands of years, bread. But in our day and age bread seems to be on the list of things not to eat. It seems there may be many reasons for that as the type of bread many tend to eat in our time is different from what use to be eaten. In our previous blog post on Milling At Home Joseph Husslein S.J. Ph D. shows how just by the way wheat is milled takes our "staff of life" and turns it into something other than a healthful food stuff.
Going down Father Fahey's list of 12 Factors of Proper Nutrition we are going to touch on numbers 10 and 11 today with our sourdough tutorial: proper preparation of food and proper cooking of food.
What is so special about sourdough bread? According to the all knowing Wikipedia, "Sourdough is the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast." Prior to the use of commercial yeast (bread yeast typically purchased for bread making) sourdough starter was how families baked their daily bread. Sourdough starter uses a natural leaving that takes the naturally occurring yeast from the air when flour and water are mixed together. This is what makes the bread rise in a sour dough recipe. Most sourdough breads purchased or served in a restaurant do not use this method but add other agents to mimic the flavor of sourdough.
Why is all of this important? Sourdough starter not only makes the bread rise without having to purchase a commercial man made yeast but it also helps to make bread more nutritional. The lactobacilli (the yeasts and bacterias) digest the sugars in the wheat, they give off gas in the process making the bubbles in the starter/bread dough which make it rise. When these lactobacilli eat the sugars they are "pre-digesting" the bread for us which makes it easier for us to digest. It also prepares the nutrients in the wheat for us so that we get more out of our wheat than we would have had these bacteria and yeasts not started the job for us. This study from the US National Library of Medicine shows that souring the bead reduces gluten and may be helpful to those who are gluten intolerant. In our own personal experience we don't have the bloating that is associated with eating yeasted bread and the whole wheat sourdough also ties us over to the next meal much longer. When we have gone back to a commercial yeasted bread we feel as if we didn't eat much and continue to feel hungry, in return eating more.
So without further ado, we present our family sourdough recipe. This recipe has been a labor of love in the making for about 4 years. One downside to sourdough is that it isn't a scientifically made commercial yeast. Meaning that it isn't a straight forward consistent item to use in the kitchen. It has been said that sourdough making is an art and there are as many ways to use this lovely starter as there are recipes in Russia for borsch, recipes in the US for potato salad and recipes in Bulgaria for Shopska Salad (as every country has its dish! Our children are adopted from these…). With that I will say this recipe might not work for every starter and every situation but it is what has been working for our family for 6 months almost without fail after 4 years of many sourdough bricks! I must also send a thank you to all those family members who have helped give tips along the way! To my sister-in-laws, cousin and aunt who put up with all my questioning and probing. This recipe is a combination of all of those tips and much reading and research.
Grind your Wheat!
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