Here we have a bowl of spelt:
Now, I hear you asking why. WHY, Maureen? Do you like to make your life complicated? I mean, bake the bread, go ahead, but Sprouted Spelt Sourdough just sounds like a bit too much....
Well, after years of suspicion, we've confirmed the Armendariz family-wide allergy to wheat.
And along with that, a sensitivity to baker's and brewer's yeast.
Now, praise the Lord, because we are not allergic to spelt or kamut. Spelt and kamut are ancient, non-hybridized wheat varieties. While gluten is one of their proteins, about 70% of people who are sensitive to wheat can eat them with no problems. And you can make REAL bread with them. Yeast bread.
Um, if you're not allergic to yeast, too.
Sourdough is different. Sourdough is leavened (risen) like 'regular' bread, but the yeast is wild. Meaning, in a nutshell, it is chemically unrelated to baker's yeast though it does the same thing to your bread. But more slowly! And most people can eat it. Which is good, because wild yeast is everywhere in the air and if you were allergic to that, well, you'd be miserable. Pretty much all the time.
Why are grains such a problem for so many people, anyway? After years of reading and listening to different experts with different ideas, I have my own little theory.
Grains are allergenic because we don't prepare them properly in our modern kitchens. Everywhere in the world where rice is eaten as a staple, for instance, whole grain rice is soaked for 24 hours before cooking. In the Middle East salt is usually used in the water to help break down and predigest the grain. In Asia, soak water is often recycled to ferment the rice, which also predigests the difficult proteins.
Soaking grains also starts the sprouting process, which introduces enzymes into the food. Allergies and sensitivities are often associated with enzyme overload (you eat more of a food than your body has enzymes to digest it properly), so traditional methods of grain prep usually introduce enzymes into grains and many other foods to help digest them for us. Smart, eh?
Sourdough bread is like the nutritional king of all breads, the ultimate long-soaked royalty of baked goods, so I figured sprouting and sourdough-ing combined should make a highly gut-friendly food. But Google fails to turn up much on the subject. So $2 a pound or not, I'm just striking out into the uncharted waters of sprouted spelt sourdough, relying on my intimate knowledge of bread making, and with the memories of other failed and partially successful sourdough experiments sharp in my mind.
That plus like the 200 sourdough books I've read over the last 2 years. Food is one of my hobbies and it does serve me well sometimes.
(And, heh-heh, if I didn't feel confident I could achieve success I prob'ly wouldn't publicly experiment.)
Basically, we leave this spelt here to sprout overnight. We blend this mess into a fine, milkshake-like substance, and put it back on the counter. We leave it there 3 to 4 days while it "catches" the wild yeast in my kitchen (the more you bake and cook with whole foods and use traditional preparation methods, the more wild yeast your kitchen contains and the faster your Starter will start). It will start to fizz and bubble and be alive. Then we feed to make it strong... then we start making bread with it!
I have been using a variation of the no-knead bread method and I plan to just alter it a bit to make it sourdough-friendly. Piece a' cake. Er, bread. Hopefully an edible one!
"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."
~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story
And, for the record, I just ate a whole dairy-free, wheat-free rice crust pizza while writing this post....