Tea Time with Annie Kate Rotating Header Image

Homeschool Crew Review: Introduction to Whole Grain Baking

 

I am thankful that we were able to review An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking…with Blender Batter Baking and the Two-Stage Process, one of the Sue Gregg Cookbook SeriesAlthough this book is not specifically gluten-free, it taught us a lot about grains and gave us a few delicious gluten-free recipes. 

 

The focus of Whole Grain Baking is on several grain preparation methods and as such it is more a collection of information and methods than a cookbook.  Recipes are limited to a few quick breads and yeast breads, and the focus is on understanding ingredients and on learning to prepare whole grains by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting. 

 

Why bother with these methods?  Well, says Sue, whole grains, while very good for health, contain phytic acid which inhibits the absorption of certain minerals.  Although the benefits of whole grains far outweigh this negative effect, soaking, sprouting, and fermenting grains maximize the nutrition.  These methods also increase digestibility and may reduce discomfort due to sensitivities. 

 

An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking…with Blender Batter Baking and the Two-Stage Process contains four main sections and has an accompanying CD.  Throughout, the Bible is discussed.  This is definitely a Christian book, with an eternal perspective often lacking in the whole foods movement.

  • “Getting Started” describes the two-stage process and its significance.  It also discusses different ingredients, including allergy alternatives.
  • “Grain Wonders” discusses many different kinds of grains as well as grain storage, care, and milling.
  • “Quick Breads” discusses the blender batter method of milling grain in liquid.  It includes some quick bread recipes as well as crepe, pancake, and waffle toppings.
  • “Yeast Breads” is, obviously, about yeast breads.  It also includes information about starting sourdough, sprouting grains, and making breads with these ingredients.

The CD is full of colourful Power Point presentations of different techniques and recipes, making them seem both easy and appealing.  It is definitely a worthwhile addition to the book.

 

Unfortunately, the main table of contents is brief and you need to flip through the book to find the detailed contents for each of the four sections.   Even these four tables of contents are confusing and not completely in order.  This detracts from the usability of the book.

 

So, how did we do with this cookbook? 

We received this book in the fall so that we would have a lot of time to work with it before reviewing it.  However, the first time I tried to grind grains in liquid in my ultra-low-quality blender, the plastic container developed a wee crack.  Hmmm.  I wasn’t about to try that again!  For a long time the crack was small enough so I could use the blender for other things.  In other words, I didn’t get a sturdier blender until quite recently. 

 

Soaking Grains

Obviously I couldn’t use the blender batter recipes for much of the review time.  Instead, I occasionally tried soaking oatmeal or buckwheat overnight in water with a bit of yoghurt, as Sue recommends.  Then in the morning we’d cook it. It cooked very quickly and tasted scrumptious.  Apparently my Grandmother used to soak her oatmeal porridge overnight, too, and I am very pleased to be doing something she used to do.  

 

I also soaked rice overnight occasionally, and it cooked more quickly and tasted better as well.  Sorghum from our garden, unhulled, didn’t work at all.  We soaked it for ages, and cooked it for ages, and it was still pure chicken feed.  It might sprout, though.  We plan to try that sometime in the future, using Sue’s instructions, but first I need to verify that the sprouts are edible; I know that under certain conditions mature sorghum plants are toxic.

 

Once we got our new blender, we set out to try the baking recipes.  With misgivings.  After all, how could a few cups of dry rice ever make good pancakes, let alone a coffee cake?  Were we ever surprised! 

 

Blender pancakes

We used brown rice and flax to make these pancakes.  The first time one of the children made them, and way too much oil was needed to keep them from sticking.  Now we double the eggs and the oil in the recipe, and they don’t stick.  They are delicious and my husband is thrilled.  I am, too.  Having always been a bit of a health nut, it bothers me to feed my family products made with the white starches usually required in gluten-free baking;  I like the fact that this recipe requires ONLY brown rice and flax.  Of course other grains, including wheat, can be used if your family eats them.

 

Sunflower Coffee Cake (adapted from Almond Coffee Cake)

It is rather startling to have a beautiful, delicious coffee cake made from brown rice rather than any flour.  Usually in gluten-free baking, you need to add various starches and gums to get a proper texture, but this was one of the best gluten-free recipes I’ve tried, and it involved only rice!  I still can hardly believe it.  My husband says this cake is tasty enough to use as our special Sunday cake.  In this recipe we halved the sugar (it was still very sweet) and substituted soaked sunflower seeds for almonds and oatmeal in the topping. 

 

Cornbread

This was a bit grainy and very crumbly.  There also did not seem to be enough liquid to do the soaking properly.  We will not be making this again, but we may try to adapt our current corn bread recipe to Sue’s two stage method.

 

Sprouting Grains

We tried sprouting hulled sorghum and hulled buckwheat (Sue recommends unhulled buckwheat, but we have none available.)   The buckwheat sprouted so quickly and looked so good that we used it in salad instead of drying it to use it as a grain.  It was tasty and we had to debate whether it was still a grain or could now be called a vegetable. (Smile.)

 

Our Discoveries

Sue’s methods do give tasty results, although I didn’t expect them to. 

 

Cooking this way requires planning.  If I want cornbread for lunch tomorrow, I need to start the batter soaking tonight.  If I want sprouted buckwheat pancakes two days from now, I need to start the sprouting process today and borrow a dehydrator (unless I want to try drying them in the oven, or cooking them undried).  Although we’re not really planners, this way of cooking is probably worth the extra effort.

 

Apparently, soaking, sprouting, and fermentation reduce the gluten content of grains.  While this doesn’t make wheat safe for a person with celiac disease, it may allow a person with mild gluten intolerance to broaden his or her diet.  

 

Cooking with gluten-free grains rather than with gluten-free flours can lead to considerable savings, since specialty flours are often expensive and occasionally stale.  I’m also pleased that we can now bake without the unhealthy starches and expensive binder gums  that are often needed in gluten-free baking.

 

We have not yet figured out how to apply Sue’s methods to gluten-free yeast breads, although we may work on that project in the future.  

 

Did it improve our health?

We cannot really tell, since we did not convert all of our grain consumption to Sue’s methods.

 

I’m a bit concerned about the long soakings at room temperature.  In theory, the presence of yoghurt should be adequate to keep the mixtures from spoiling overnight.  Since I need to avoid yeasts, however, this is a potential problem.  A few times I felt a bit off after eating soaked buckwheat, but I don’t know for sure that it was the soaking; it could have been the cut up buckwheat grits themselves.  On the other hand, sprouted whole buckwheat did not bother me at all.

 

I love the idea of making gluten-free foods from whole grains without nutritionally empty starches.  That can only benefit my family.  I’m hoping to find or develop more recipes that use this method.

 

Check it out

A preview of An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking  is available here.    Note that most of Sue Gregg’s cookbooks contain more recipes and less theory than this one.  If you are interested in better nutrition for your family or cooking lessons for your children, any of the books could help you.  I recommend that you take some time to explore the informative website   thoroughly and try some of the recipes to see if they will suit your family.  Even if you decide not to buy the books, you will have learned some interesting facts and healthy recipes.  

 

Crew members received a selection of Sue Gregg’s cookbooks to review.  For their experiences, please see the Homeschool Crew blog.

 

An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking…with Blender Batter Baking and the Two-Stage Process  is available here for $23 US.  Other cookbooks are also available on this page.  Note that if you click on each individual cookbook, you can examine a sizeable preview.

 

Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking…with Blender Batter Baking and the Two-Stage Process in exchange for our family’s honest opinions.

 

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    We were introduced to the idea of soaking grains through Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions. It really does make a difference! I have yet to try soaking our GF flour before baking bread – it's enough for me to get a good loaf and I don't want take a chance and have to waste it. We do soak our porridge grains overnight, though. We tried sprouting before and it didn't work so well but we should give it another try. Thanks for the review!

    Carmen

  2. AnnieKate says:

    Yes, that is a great book. There's a huge amount of information in it.

    Annie Kate

Leave a Reply to AnnieKate Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Archives