Zooming about the kitchen at a manic pace on even a good day, it’s difficult enough to muster the patience for bread to rise, or dough to sit overnight at times. With the instant gratification of simple cookies and rolls tugging at the corners of my pleasure-seeking mind, it’s hard to justify taking more than a day or two to make one single item. It doesn’t help that counter space is at a premium as its teeming with baked goods of all sizes and colors; there’s barely even space to house more time-consuming recipes. Thus, sprouting is simply something that seemed an impossible venture to attempt. Despite all of the wonderful reports on how delicious and healthy sprouted grains and beans are, I never took the initiative to go ahead and try it out for myself. Thank goodness I was finally given a reason to step out of my normal pattern and do just that for this month’s Bread Baking Day, as chosen by Zorra, which involves baking with sprouts.
Limited knowledge and supplies both dictated my decision to sprout quinoa, which I’ve heard is faster to sprout than most options. Still figuring that I would have a full 2 or 3 days to wait until the actual bread baking could begin, I nearly gasped in shock when only 24 hours after beginning when I lifted the cheesecloth covering my jar of previously raw grains and discovered this:
Look at those beautiful tails! How they had grown so quickly, I can only attribute to the incredibly humid weather we’ve been experiencing lately. While I hate this wet, clammy warmth, I suppose it’s good for something after all! Tossing in a good handful of my sprouted quinoa and continuing a wholesome theme by using all whole wheat flour and no refined sugars, the dough came together with ease. Before I knew it, I had a beautiful loaf rising and browning in the oven, dispersing its yeasty aroma throughout the kitchen. Really, there are few things that smell as good as freshly baked bread.
Besides just being a lovely, healthy loaf, it has incredible flavor, drawing upon Mediterranean influence; Sun-dried tomato paste is mixed in, as well as a touch of balsamic vinegar for a slightly tangy bite, toasted pine nuts provide a toothsome crunch, and fresh herbs straight from the garden round the whole thing out. A nice change of pace from the usual onslaught of sugar, this could very well take a place of honor as one of my favorite savory recipes.
Mediterranean Sprouted Quinoa Bread
3 Tablespoons Sun-Dried Tomato Paste
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Package Active Dry Yeast
2 Teaspoons Agave
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
3 1/2 – 4 Cups Whole Wheat flour
1/3 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts
Handful Fresh Parsley and Basil, Finely Chopped
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Sprouted Quinoa
1 Tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten
First, stir the tomato paste into your water so that it dissolves, and then add in the agave and yeast. Let that sit for about 5 minutes or so until the yeast reawakens and it becomes frothy.
Toss this mixture into your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, and stir in the oil and vinegar. Add in about 2 cups of the flour, as well as all of the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly to combine, and then add in enough of the remaining flour to create a cohesive dough that is neither very sticky nor dry. If using a stand mixer, let it kneed on a slow speed with a dough hook for 5 – 10 minutes, or kneed by hand for 10 – 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a large bowl and let the dough rest there, covered, until doubled in volume.
Press down the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Kneed is very lightly to flatten it out into a rectangle approximately the length of your loaf pan, but much wider. Roll it up tightly and lay the log into greased medium loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled again. Bake it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.
NOTE: If you have a lot of pine nuts on top of your loaf, you might want to tent it with aluminum foil after the first 15 or 20 minutes so that they don’t burn.
NOTE #2: Kalamata olives or finely chopped artichoke hearts could make a lovely addition to this loaf as well!