If you have been around here for long, you know that I strive to soak my whole grains for the benefit of breaking down the phytates and making the nutrients more accessible to our bodies. Over the years, I have taken many of my favorite recipes and adapted them to allow for the soaking process to be completed. There is a never ending stream of emails that I receive asking the question, “how do you adapt recipes for soaking?” Today, I am going to make an effort to give two examples of how I have accomplished this process. I hope that is helpful to you. Over the next few weeks, I will be a compiling a video tutorial of what soaking looks like with a few of our favorite recipes.
First off, let me just encourage you that it takes time and experimentation to adapt your recipes. With each recipe that I successfully modified, it took at least two tries to get it right. So be patient and just have fun with it. For the most part, it is relatively easy.
So, let’s begin…I will start by going through one recipe with you and offering my steps towards conversion.
Biscuits – Original Recipe
7 cups spelt flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups butter
5 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp salt
1. Evaluate the liquids.
I always start adapting every recipe by evaluating the liquids. This spelt biscuit recipe has 2 cups of milk as the liquid ingredients. To soak, I can simply replace this amount with an acid medium in its entirety or in whatever portion I desire. My acid medium choices: cultured buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, whey, or water and lemon juice.
I have had best success with soaking in kefir, as it imparts wonderful nutrients but also gives a moist light texture to my baked goods. So, I converted 2 cups of milk to 2 cups of kefir. In order for soaking to be effective, you really only have to use at least 1 Tablespoon of acid medium to 1 cup of liquids in your recipe, so I could also use 2 cups water with 2 Tablespoons acid medium. You could also use milk and just add 2 Tbsp acid medium. The choice is up to you!
If your recipe calls for yogurt or buttermilk anyway, that is sufficient to satisfy the acidic medium. You won’t have to add anything to the recipe; just mix the yogurt/buttermilk and flour or grains overnight, then proceed with the recipe as written.
2. Combine liquids with flour.
Secondly, I will combine my acid medium liquids with the flour. To keep a moist texture, I will often thin out the kefir or yogurt to the consistency of buttermilk so as to keep the mixture from getting too dry. Mix the flour and the acid medium together. If the mixture remains very dry, you have a third option.
3. Add the butter or oil to the soaked goods, if necessary.
If there are butter or oil called for in the recipe, you can add it to the mixture as well to help keep the moist consistency. In this spelt biscuit recipe, I wanted to use a combination of coconut oil and butter as it provides such a delicious flavor. So, I melted the coconut oil/butter and added it to the soaked flour/acid medium. I know have a moist consistency.
I will then cover this bowl with a towel and allow to sit on the counter at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Ideally, you want to keep it in a warm place. In the oven with the pilot light on, in a dehydrator, on top of a high shelf, or in a warm bedroom of your house.
After it has soaked, I would kneed in the baking powder and salt. And there you have it…delicious soaked biscuits that will not only rise better because of the soaking but will also be more easily digested by your body. Check out my adapted soaked biscuit recipe.
In other recipes, I also add the liquid sweeteners (such as honey) to the recipe to maintain the moist texture (as in my soaked whole grain bread). There are mixed opinions as to the safety of this practice, but Sue Gregg has used this practice in many of her soaked blender batter recipes, and thus I have not been too concerned about it.
What if there are no butter/oil ingredients?
If there are no oil ingredients in the recipe, add just enough more water to make it slightly moist but not dry. Start with 1/4 cup increments.
What about a recipe that has no liquids?
Here’s an example:
Raspberry Muffins – our family favorite muffin recipe!
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups raspberries, frozen
2 eggs, well beaten
2/3 cup oil, coconut oil preferred
As you can see, there are no liquids in this recipe besides the oil. So, this recipe will take a little more practice and experimentation to avoid drying it out. As you’ll see in my adapted soaked raspberry muffin recipe, I simply combined the flour with melted coconut oil and 2 Tablespoons acid medium (kefir in my case). I add just enough water (between 1/4-1/2 cup) to keep it moist and well combined. For effective soaking, you want to use at least 1 Tablespoon of acid medium to 1 cup of liquids in your recipe. Since this recipe has no liquids, I simply guessed it with the 2 Tablespoons. I really don’t think you can go wrong. The more the better.
As you can also see in this recipe, the original recipe called for sugar, which is easily replaced with a more natural alternative such as rapadura or sucanat. The original recipe also called for canola oil, which I simply replaced with coconut oil.
If through trial and error, you cannot seem to keep the dough from getting too dry and unworkable after soaking, I recommend using sprouted flour (see below).
What if I am dairy intolerant?
I have found best results from soaking with kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk, but it is possible to soak with other acid mediums (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar) if you are allergic to dairy. Read our discussion on Soaking Methods for the Dairy Intolerant.
What about a recipe with yeast?
Since the yeast cannot be added for the overnight soak, you’ll need to withhold 1/4-1/2 cup of water from your recipe with which to ‘proof’ the yeast. Note that I have had perfect success with reserving just 1/4 cup. When you’re ready to finish the dough, mix the yeast with 1/4-1/2 water and sweetener (I use 1 tsp of honey), proof for 5 minutes at room temperature, then add to the dough that has been soaking overnight. Knead and allow to rise as directed in your recipe. You can see this demonstrated in my soaked whole wheat bread recipe.
What happens when the final mixture is too wet?
This happens to me quite frequently. For example, my pizza crust recipe tends to be too wet if I use less than 10 cups of flour in the original soaking mix. It tends to get very elastic and need alot more flour to make it workable and able to be rolled out. In this case, I keep white flour or better yet, sprouted wheat flour on hand.
Sprouted wheat flour is just as beneficial as soaked flour, but is more time consuming to accomplish and more expensive to buy. Buying quantities of sprouted flour or making your own, can help supplement in the case that you need to add extra flour, flour a pan, flour a surface to roll out the dough, etc. When you just use sprouted flour for these supplemental purposes, it can stretch the cost out.
Sprouted flour has already been soaked and dried and therefore has accomplished the process of breaking down the phytates. Sprouted flour is also nice to have on hand if you forget to soak and are throwing something together at the last minute. Just use the sprouted flour and away you go. No soaking necessary! Read more about sprouted flour and my recommended source. I buy 10 lb bags of sprouted grain and they last me forever!
What about cakes, pie crusts and cookies?
You will often find that cakes, pie crusts, and cookies are difficult if not impossible to soak. Either there are absolutely no liquids or the final product is undesirable. I just have not had much success here. In this case, I use sprouted wheat flour. Cookies will not rise very well, so I still use a combination of white flour and sprouted wheat for a better appeal. Pie crusts are similar. The results usually will be crumbly and hard. White flour alone or in combination with sprouted flour again is more ideal. Since these are special occasion items at our home, I really don’t stress over it too much. White flour does make for a lighter texture that nothing else really can fully beat.
I hope this little tutorial was helpful for you and inspires you to work at adapting your favorite recipes to incorporate the benefits of soaking!
Check out my recipe index for many more yummy adapted recipes!
Stay tuned for some video tutorials on soaking some of our favorite recipes!