[ Equipment: food dehydrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch square cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths. ]
The Essenes were a religious community that lived in various locations in the Middle East. According to the Wikipedia, Essene bread is a low-temperature-baked bread made with sprouted wheat. I found several recipes for it on the web, baked at temperatures ranging from 115F to 300F. Like flour soaking, sprouting the grain helps release nutrients and neutralizes phytic acid. My version of Essene bread contains sprouted and soaked grains as well as an optional solid leavener – puffed wheat. Without the puffed wheat, the bread is 100% raw.
The 3 grains are wheat, oats and lentils. Typically, Essene bread is made with sprouted wheat. I had whole wheat flour in the food bin. This is my first raw recipe made with raw wheat flour, soaked for several hours in an acid medium. Soaking frees up nutrients, takes away the raw taste and softens the grainy flavor of whole wheat. Lemon juice can substitute for the vinegar. If the flour soaks at room temperature (typically how it’s done), it darkens a little. The color stabilizes if the batter chills in the refrigerator.
Lentils are beans but I’ve seen them in Essene bread recipes. The trick with sprouted lentils: don’t let them sprout too long or they turn too bitter for a raw bread – at least for my palate. They’re best (munchable and sweet) when the root tails measure between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Oat flour: buy raw or make by grinding oats in a food processor. I like a coarsely ground oat flour for dehydration baking.
The picture above is a close-up of the holes in the bread from skewer pressings and the expansion of the puffed wheat. As the bread dehydrates, small spaces develop around the grains of puffed wheat to aerate the dough. The puffed wheat expands when moistened and then shrinks when dried, leaving gaps. Re-dried puffed wheat tastes crunchier and adds a toasted flavor to the bread.
Makes 6 servings
- 120 calories per serving
- Oven Temperature: 125°F/51.7°C
- 3/4 cup coarsely ground oat flour
- 1/2 cup lentil sprouts (1/4 cup dried lentils) or other sprouts
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 teaspoons vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon powdered garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper or chili powder
- 3/4 cup puffed wheat
1. In a medium bowl, soak 1/4 cup lentils for 8 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 16 hours. Lentils should have sprouted with roots about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, water and vinegar. Let sit for at least 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Taste the soaking liquid. Soak is ready when the liquid no longer tastes tart or acid.
3. In a small food processor, pulse chop the puffed wheat until grains are about 1/3 size. Alternatively, put the puffed wheat in a small plastic bag and crush them to about 1/3 size. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, garlic and chili powder until well combined.
5. In the small bowl of a food processor, puree soaked flour (with soaking liquid) and 3/4 cup of lentil sprouts for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.
6. Add the sprout-soaked flour mixture to the oat flour and mix until moistened.
7. Add the crushed puffed wheat and mix until evenly distributed.
8. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Drop dough into pan in chunks. With the back of a spoon, press dough into bottom of the pan.
9. With a 1/8-inch skewer, perforate the dough to the bottom, the holes spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Dehydrate at 150°F/65.6°C for about 30 minutes. Reduce to 125°F/51.7°C and dehydrate for another 30 minutes.
10. Cut bread into 6 slices. Lift each slice with a spatula. Turn over and transfer to a baking sheet covered with a silicone mat. Perforate each slice with a skewer and continue dehydrating for another 30 minutes at 125F/51.7C.
11. The bread is sturdy enough to hold the sandwich by hand, but it’s even neater when wrapped in wax paper.