Here’s a recipe name that’s misleading: Rustic Wheat Berry Bread.
While a strawberry-raspberry bread sounds weirdly appealing, this recipe contains neither. Rather, it has wheat berries, which are just little grains that apparently people use to make stuff. I thought I’d have a hard time finding them at Nesters, but when I asked about them, the clerk knew where they were immediately. I am always so impressed when the clerks know exactly where obscure ingredients are, as an aside. There must be ten thousand different products in a regular grocery store.
The rustic wheat berry bread is basically a fancy way of saying whole wheat loaf. But it’s a little bit cooler to make than your usual whole wheat because you get to soak the wheat berries and then pulverize them into some kind of wheat goo. Behold:
I have to say, I felt awfully fancy soaking wheat berries. I remember going to a Cornucopia event once and the presenter was talking about soaking all these grains and nuts and sprouts and things, and it all sounded great but like an awful lot of work. Well, I’m officially a soaker now. Maybe this was a gateway recipe into a world of soaked food. I better buy some more small bowls!
The wheat berries have to be soaked for 12 to 24 hours. I erred on the conservative side and left them soaking for 24 because there’s a little troubleshooting text box that says “Problem: The wheat berries don’t completely break down. Solution: Soak the berries for at least 12 hours.” I thought I could really just avoid the whole problem by giving it a full day. It worked.
You also have to make a sponge for this recipe. I made it at the same time I soaked the berries because it can sit out for 24 hours. Boom – perfect timing.
After a restful 24 hours, the remainder of the recipe involves the usual flour mixture + sponge, mixing, waiting, mixing, waiting, folding, waiting, etc.
After all was said and done, my dough looked tinier than usual. This is not a loaf that would command $15 at a Farmer’s Market. More like $5.
I think my horrible slashing (i.e. the cutting into the dough) is partially to blame. I don’t use a cool razor thingy like they do in the book – I just use a kitchen knife. I used to use kitchen shears, but it gave it a puckered look. I tried to make a snazzy square slashing shape, but my cuts were in adequate and it just looks a little bit pathetic.
It may be tiny and pathetic, but it was tasty. If I’m fully honest, I’m not sure it’s worth going out and buying wheat berries and going to the trouble of soaking and all that – this bread isn’t that much different than a regular pain de campagne. However, since I still have half a box of wheat berries, I’ll certainly make it again. Next time, I’ll be a little more aggressive with my slashes. Zorro style.