Essene bread is a very healthy addition to your breakfast and a very good snack. It gives lots of energy and has no chemical, preservatives or refined ingredients. I like to have a few slices at hand in the freezer so I can bring it to work on the days I don’t have time to prepare a breakfast : I just have to put it in the microwave for a minute and eat it with a fruit at my desk.
It can be bought at most good health food stores, in the frozen goods sections. The quality is usually pretty good, but at 5$ for a small loaf I’d rather make it myself. The recipe is seemingly simple : it’s made with only sprout wheat berries, dried fruits and nuts. But there are many tips to know so you can make it without trouble, especially if you never sprouted wheat or grains before.
Buying the wheat berries
Buying the right wheat is an important step. I had problems at first because I neglected that area and bought my wheat from the grocery store. You need to buy your berries from a store that have a high merchandise turnover so the berries are as fresh as possible. I now buy mine in bulk at organic food stores for the best price and quality. There are many kinds of wheat on the market but as long as the quality is there you will get good results. I use plain hard wheat myself, you don’t have to choose a wheat “to sprout”.
The freshness is important because you have to sprout them, the first batch I bought was rancid but it took me a while to realist it because I had never seen good wheat before. It will smell good, while rancid wheat have a slight bad odor or don’t smell anything.
Sprout the wheat berries
My usual batch requires two cups of dry grain, making two small bread. I also add 1/3 cups of raisins, dates or dried cranberries with nuts. There are many ways to sprout the wheat, but the basic steps are the same. First, soak the grains during eight hours. Then, rinse the grains and let them drain twice a day for three days at most. There are three parts on the whole sprout : the wheat berry, a root and a little sprout. The little sprout should grow to about the length of the wheat berry. If you can’t prepare the bread when the sprouts are the right length, put them in the fridge so they grow slower.
When I started sprouting wheat, I put 2/3 cups of grain in 500ml glass jar, covered with netting. But, for the batch size I was doing, I needed six jars so it took a lot of place in my sink and it was long to rinse the grain in all those jars. Since then, I made some big hemp bags and I put a cup of berries in each bags so I only need to rinse the bags and hang them to dry.
Grind the wheat berries
Grinding the wheat berries enough to make a good bread requires a very good blender, juicer or wheat grass juicer. The sprout wheat is still a little bit hard with the shell and you have to be able to grind enough to have a good paste without too many chunks of berries remaining.
Since my blender wouldn’t do the job, I use an old metal meat grinder. I grind the berries, and then grind the paste again one or two times to get a good texture, but it works. You can cover the paste and put it in the refrigerator if you can’t cook the bread right away.
Mixing and cooking the bread
Mix the wheat paste and the dried fruits and/or nuts. Wet you hands and shape the bread in two loaves on a cookie sheet covered by a piece of parchment paper.
Put in the oven and cook at 200 F (100 C) for about five hours, raising the bread every two hours so it doesn’t stick too much. After that time, the bottom of the bread is firm even if it’s still a bit wet. Essene bread always remains humid in the middle and that’s normal, you will never get the same effect as a recipe with flour. It’s a bit surprising and I had to check with a store-brought bread to make sure I got it right, but it works and it tastes good.
If you eat raw or would rather use a dehydrator or a solar over, you can cook it at lower temperatures but it’ll need to be cooked longer. I use the oven myself because I can shape the bread as I want and have nice big slices and freeze it anyway, but both ways work.
The cooked bread can last for a few days on the counter and probably a bit longer in the fridge, but I cut the loaves in slices when the bread has cooled and freeze them in a bin. The loaves can also be cut while frozen, but it will be a bit harder.