Saturday, February 4, 2012

Back to the Basics: Ezekiel Bread

"Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself."
--Ezekiel 4:9 (NIV)


Regular visitors to this blog know that I like to make my own 100% whole wheat bread, but also that Ezekiel Bread is my favorite (and though I don't currently have data to back this up, I am convinced this is the most nutritious bread there is). I haven't posted the recipe in a while so thought I would for a couple reasons. The first, simply, is that I like it. And the second is that when talking to people (or if they taste the bread) they tell me the bread looks or tastes really good but the recipe seems complicated. Well I'm here to let you in on a little secret...it's not. The only difference between this bread (or any other bread that contains whole boiled grain) is that the beans and grain are boiled before being added to the recipe. Anyhow, this is how I made Ezekiel bread today (pictured above) without letting it interrupt my life...rather, I controlled it so that the various stages worked around my time today (the recipe is at the bottom of this post).

This morning, shortly after lighting a fire in the wood-burning stove, I boiled some beans and grains. I don't often use the wood-burning stove to cook on that often--in fact I haven't used it as often as usual for heat because of the mild winter--but today I did, and the boiling grain made the house smell great (my two pugs loved it...that's them below sleeping next to the stove). And over the years my view of this recipe--or more specifically, my  view of the beans and grains involved--are on the same line with my view of theology...extremely liberal (to read more about my liberal views of this bread, click here). Today, for example, I didn't have millet or bulgur but did have brown rice and chick peas so I used them instead...nearly any bean or grain will do (but not to worry, the recipe listed below is tried and tested...and it works). Anyhow, while I had my coffee, checked emails, Facebook, and updated this blog...the beans and grains boiled. When they were done I placed them outside on a rear porch railing to cool (it was only 32F/0C...why tax my fridge). And while it cooled I went and did a few errands on my bike, stopped at a coffee shop, and took a few photos.


When I returned the beans and liquid were cool, so I mixed the two separate bowls (see recipe below) and went for a walk and to a health club for a quick swim. When I returned I mixed the dough, had dinner, then "went to my inner room" for a few minutes of meditation.


After the dough rose I went to a local tavern for a couple beers, but before I did I shaped the loaves and put them in their loaf pans. And just before I left the house I turned on my oven to preheat it (my 20-year-old oven takes a long time to heat). When I returned home the bread was risen and oven hot so, after spraying both the bread and oven with water, I placed it in the oven. While the bread baked I wrote the previous post, pet my dogs, and had a glass of wine. And now, as I type these words, the rear of the house is warm--because the oven was on--the entire house has the awesome aroma of freshly baked bread, and I have two loaves of really good Ezekiel bread that cost pennies to make (compared to dollars at the local co-op for a sometimes mediocre loaf). I'll freeze one loaf and slice into the other for toast in the morning...but actually, I think I'll go grab a slice right now with butter on it while it's still fresh and warm.


To read more about Ezekiel Bread and with more explicit photos, click here or here (but please use the below recipe as it is the revised version).

Whole Wheat Ezekiel Bread
Makes 2 or 3 loaves
12 cups water
2 tablespoons white beans
2 tablespoons red beans
2 tablespoons spelt berries
2 tablespoons lentils
2 tablespoons barley
2 tablespoons millet
2 tablespoons bulgur wheat
___________________
cooked beans and grains
½ cup cooking water
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
___________________

4 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 cups cooking liquid
___________________

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher
3 teaspoons instant yeast

Boil the grains in the water in logical succession according to cooking times: first the white and red beans (about 60 minutes), when they are soft add the, spelt berries, lentils, and barley (about 30 minutes); lastly, add the millet and bulgar (about 10 minutes). The key is that after each addition the previous grain must be soft enough so that when all of the grains are in the pot they will all be equally soft; undercooked grains (especially the beans) can really ruin this bread. And as the grains cook add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it's evaporation). After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. After the grains are cooled drain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.

Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained grains with ½ cup of the cooking liquid, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 2 teaspoons instant yeast. Stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups whole wheat flour, 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups cooking liquid; stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it's job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

4 comments:

Dianna G said...

I stumbled across your blog in my search for Ezekiel Bread recipes. I had tried a recipe from another site and did not like how it turned out sweet and crumbly. Your recipe is perfect for toast or sandwiches. I have been looking for an E.B. recipe that could be used for an "everyday" type of bread. I also read through the previous version of this recipe and some of your other bread posts. I don't remember which post, but I loved the idea of using the bread for pizza dough. Since there are just two in my household, I made 6 personal pan pizza crusts and 8 mini loaves of bread, instead of 2 "regular" loaves. I just tried a slice and it is exactly what I have been looking for. Thank you for your wonderful recipe. It will be a regular item in my household. I am also going to try other recipes you have posted.

Joe said...

Dianna, Thank you for your kind words and also for making the recipe. Yes, Ezekiel bread is still my favorite bread....delicious and nutritious. And it does make great pizza dough as well. Thanks again for visiting. Peace.

Anonymous said...

The recipe says 3 tsp of instant yeast. When I read through the instructions though, it says to add 2 tsp of instant yeast in the preferment bowl. Then later, in a mixing bowl add 3 tsp of instant yeast (on the opposite side of the bowl as the salt). I love the idea of this recipe and it looks so much better than everything else I have seen...but I need to know...is it 5 tsp total yeast (2 in the preferment and 3 in the dough hook bowl) or 3 (2 in the preferment and 1 in the dough hook bowl). Please let me know.

Thanks!

Joe George said...

Anonymous, Thanks for visiting. It is a total of 5 teaspoons yeast as the recipe states. While it looks complicated, it really is not. Read through it and break down the steps. Let me know how it comes out!