Soaking Grains: The Healthy Secret For Holiday Baking
How soaking grains can make your holiday baking traditions much healthier.
This simple, healthy kitchen tip from The Chalkboard caught our eye, just in time for the holiday season. Read on for the how-to, and to discover how it can make your baking traditions much healthier.
Would you like to make the lightest, fluffiest biscuits ever this winter? Or to dazzle party goers with your baking prowess at this year’s holiday parties? There’s a simple secret to making amazing baked goods with just a little bit of planning and one magic ingredient. The best part? This method also makes baked goods that are far more easy to digest!
Old-fashioned bakers knew that soaking flour overnight made baked goods rise to new heights and hold their shape, producing a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. You can do it, too! Here’s how—and why it matters:
It’s pretty well known that whole grains contain more nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and fiber—than refined grains. However, those unrefined grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that make the grains hard to digest. This is actually a good thing. Enzymes are little proteins that cause reactions on the surface of cells. Enzyme inhibitors keep grains from going rancid too quickly, and also repel insects because they make the grains hard to digest.
You can usually digest grains somewhat because the acids in your stomach break down the food and make the nutrients available to your body, but you can make them even easier to digest—and give those nutrients a head start—by removing the enzyme inhibitors even before you start to bake!
All you need to do is soak your flour in an acid-based liquid for a few hours before you mix up your recipe. Fermented liquids are great for this, because not only are they fairly acidic, they also include probiotics (good bacteria) that get the enzymes going and, in a sense, pre-digest some of those tough fibers for you.
Any fermented liquid will work: apple cider vinegar, kombucha, water kefir (a dairy-free probiotic), sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, or whey from a cultured milk product. All of these have the additional advantage of tasting great, which adds a nice flavor to your finished product.
Just take a look at your recipe, and use a fermented product for the liquid that’s given. Add that fermented liquid to the flour, cover it with a dishtowel or cheesecloth, and let it sit at least an hour and up to 24 hours on the counter top or in the refrigerator. When you’re done soaking, add the rest of the ingredients. You’ll notice right away that your batter or dough is lighter and fluffier! (You may need to add a little extra liquid to get the right consistency for baking.)
Another bonus is that the acids in the fermented liquid will help leaven the recipe, so your cakes will rise a little higher, your cookies will be a little puffier, and your pancakes will be a little higher.
Try this simple recipe to start with:
2 cups glour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. organic butter (very cold)
¾ cup cultured buttermilk (can substitute yogurt)
Step 1:12-24 hours prior to making biscuits, mix the flour and buttermilk together. Cover and allow the flour to soak.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the butter into chunks then work it into the flour/buttermilk mixture along with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Do not overmix. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more buttermilk. The dough should be soft and light.
Step 3: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Gently pat the dough to ½-inch thick. (This will yield lighter biscuits than using a rolling pin.) Use a round cutter to cut out the biscuits.
Step 4: Place biscuits on a cookie sheet. If you want biscuits with soft edges (and a higher rise), place the rounds touching each other. If you want biscuits with crusty sides, place the rounds about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Makes 10 biscuits.
For more tips and insights on healthy, balanced living, check out thechalkboardmag.com.