Christmas Cookies.

What makes a Christmas cookie a Christmas cookie?  I ask myself this question every year as I prepare to bake.  Since I became a full-time homemaker I usually organize my thoughts and baking pantry in November, beginning with a thorough detailing of my kitchen.  That didn't happen this year - for some reason the time is flying much faster than I can fathom.  But I'm nearly done with my baking for the season, using my method of batch-a-day baking, which I pretty much have always done around Christmastime since setting off on my own.  It might be hard to make 12 kinds of cookies in a single day, but 12 types over a couple of weeks, even when holding down a couple of jobs is surprisingly easy.  Or maybe just surprisingly easy for someone who loves to bake.

cinnamon pinwheels

Frequently I end up with more than 12 types of sweets, but 12 is my goal for a nice selection for a cookie plate or tin.  I like to choose naturally long-lasting things to bake first like biscotti, and then move on those that freeze well after baking, leaving any more perishable types for last minute.  But I'm not so much an icebox cookie fan; the slice and bake notion is appealing, but requires some finesse that I can't always muster.  (But, I did make time and patience enough for these Cinnamon Pinwheels from King Arthur Flour.  The dough was a bit tricky and soft, but they paid off.)

cinnamon pinwheels.

I have no rhyme or reason for Christmas cookies, what makes my cookies Christmas cookies is baking them around Christmastime.  It's unfortunate that I never make decorated sugar cut-out shapes.  My Mom makes dozens and dozens of sugar cookies at Christmas.  For the bulk of my youth, visions of wax paper lined countertops with drying cookies decorated by our family signaled that Christmas was almost here.  My Mom would spread the icing and my brothers and I, armed with sprinkles and colored sanding sugar, and red hot candies (not to mention the silver dragees that were not intended to be eaten but always were), would take turns making miniature, edible artworks.  I don't think I'm exaggerating that some years there were upwards of 70 dozen when we finished.  They were stored in big plastic bowls on our old-fashioned, naturally frozen back porch, and given freely to nearly every friend and neighbor.

I can't say that I have many traditions of my own like that.  I make different cookies every year, ones that catch my attention here and there, ones that might require slightly more dedication than a non-holiday event cookie.  Some are just plain, however.  One of my favorites happens to be this one from a decade-old Martha Stewart Magazine:  Grammy's Chocolate Cookies.  I do make this cookie nearly every year, so I suppose in a way it has become my tradition.

grammy's chocolate cookies.

These cookies don't seem remarkable, until you pop one in your mouth.  They are definitely the cookie that you swear you remember sitting at your grandmother's table eating too many of... along with a glass of cold milk of course.  They store well in the freezer and at room temperature, and the recipe makes a lot.  I like to use coarser raw sugar for rolling them in; it makes them sparkle a bit more. 

I always make the dough the day before using it, or at least several hours before if I'm in a hurry.  If you rush it, the butter-heavy dough melts into a big mess when you attempt rolling it into balls.  I know from experience.  I adapted the way I store the dough to allow for less mess.

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies (Martha Stewart Magazine - but this recipe differs from the in print version)
yield about 6 dozen
  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz. butter (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted, butter room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (additional granulated or raw sugar for dipping)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of  a stand mixer with the paddle attachment), beat the butter with the sugar and eggs until fluffy, at least 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla, and beat another minute to combine.  (Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.)

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients slowly until just mixed.  Spread a sheet of parchment (or cling film will work too) out on the counter, and transfer the dough onto it.  Use a knife to spread it into a flattish rectangle, and top with another sheet of parchment (or cling film).  Put the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  (Make sure the dough is well covered so the air doesn't get at it.)

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350, and line sheet pans with parchment paper.  Use a bench scraper to portion the dough into 1 inch squares, and roll each between your palms to make balls.  Drop them into a bowl of raw sugar (or more granulated sugar) to coat, and place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  (If the dough softens too much at room temperature, pop it back in the fridge as you are waiting on the batches.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time.  Let the cookies stand on the pans for 5 minutes after baking before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Amish bulk store raw sugar.

When I was back home visiting for Thanksgiving, I picked up the most gorgeous raw sugar from one of the Amish bulk stores that dot the countryside near my parents house.  I was disappointed that trying to take a picture of it proved so tough.  It was some of the prettiest, sparkly sugar I've ever seen.  Even though it was an off-white color, I used it to coat my frosted cranberries.  The recipe is from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks, and I've been making them since she first introduced me to them in 2009.  I've found that using half the amount of simple syrup (or twice the amount of cranberries, since they are so addicting) works fine.  I also save the pink syrup to use in other things.

frosted cranberries

I've all but wrapped up my baking for this year.  There is a bowl of jam thumbprint dough chilling that I'll need to attend to, and just this morning I decided to make the world's easiest (and tastiest!) peanut butter fudge.  All that remains is double checking the list I keep on the counter to make sure I don't forget any varieties that are stashed throughout the house, and matching plate or tin sizes to recipients.  I don't plan to give out a ton of cookies, really, but I bake in December for the sheer joy of baking.  Believe it or not, I don't end up eating very many myself (except for those cranberries: I usually have to make a second or third batch of them).  Whatever cookies you made or wish you made for the season, I wish you all a Merry Christmas! 

Daring Bakers August 2013: Indian Desserts.

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Bolinhas de Coco
Bolinhas de Coco

Where I found the time to do the Daring Baker Challenge this month, I'm not sure.  It could be that when I decided to check out what it was last week, I saw a vaguely Portuguese name for a coconut cookie... and of course I was sold. The sweets we were challenged to make were actually Indian in nature, and in the interest of time (and a bit of sleep deprivation on my part) I'll leave you to read what our host had to say about the history of the Bolinhas de Coco cookie.

As for my notes on the matter:  these cookies were really just okay for me.  I like cardamom, which were the main flavor component (other than the coconut), but these felt a little lacking.  They were at their tastiest just out of the oven; storing them even one day caused them to lose their macaroon-like crispy exterior/soft interior.  I thought the method of making them was unique and might be worth exploring more... but to tell the truth, I'm probably not going to get to that for a while!

Bolinhas de Coco

Read more about the challenge this month, get the recipes, and check out the blogroll for other participating bakers.  Maybe next month, I'll have a bit more time to dedicate to the Daring Baker Challenge.

Bolinhas de Coco

Daring Baker Challenge February 2011: Panna Cotta, Wisconsin Style

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I love Daring Baker Challenges. I think part of the reason I like them so much is the planning stages that can take the better part of a month, and then fortuitously change at the last second. The reveal date for our monthly challenge is always the 27th, and today I baked the final stage, another version of oatmeal cookies - but more on that in a bit.

Panna Cotta is essentially an Italian "milk jell-o". I have eaten all kinds of custard in my life, but can't say that I've ever eaten this eggless version. I didn't know what I was missing. When I began planning my approach, I thought I would make at least two different kinds of panna cotta, and complete the lacy florentine cookies earlier in the month. I couldn't see why you would want to eat a butter laden cookie with a milk and cream laden pudding, I guess... and my Husband isn't able to eat heavy milk desserts, but is somewhat fond of cookies.

As you may remember, earlier in February was when the sprouting grain bug really hit me. I immediately altered the Florentine recipe to include the sprouted spelt flour, and while I was at it, used brown rice syrup to replace the corn syrup. The thing I discovered about Florentines is that the amount of butter (a staggering 2/3 cup), and the state of the butter's coolness, directly affects the end cookie. Since the butter is melted and the other ingredients added, the first cookies I baked spread out into near impossible thinness. It could be because I also used rolled oats instead of quick oats. Sometimes, I wonder why I don't ever just follow instructions.

All of my alterations added up to an impressively thin cookie, somewhat chewy and toothsome, that crisped up when stored in the freezer. I froze the remainders intending to make ice cream: I have developed a habit of saving nearly all leftover DB Challenges to make ice creams, which isn't really a bad idea most of the time. I did use metric weights for these.

RCakeWalk's Florentine Cookies (heavily adapted from Nestle's via the Daring Kitchen)
  • 150 g. (2/3 cup) butter
  • 160 g. (2 cup) rolled oats
  • 95 g. (2/3 cup) sprouted spelt flour
  • 230 g. (1 cup) raw sugar
  • 60 ml. (1/4 c.) brown rice syrup
  • 60 ml. (1/4 c.) half and half
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, and remove from heat.

Measure oats, sugar, flour, brown rice syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt into a medium sized mixing bowl, and pour the melted butter over. Mix well.

Drop a tablespoon of batter, onto parchment lined baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between cookies (I got about 5 on a sheet pan). The first batches I scooped out were very "liquidy". As the butter hardens a bit, the cookies seem to spread out less, and you can gently flatten the balls of batter with a spatula or your fingers.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges look somewhat firm and even a little caramelized. The baking time varies with the dough temperature, so just keep an eye on them. Let them rest on the baking sheets for at least several minutes to let the cookies set. I like to carefully move the parchment (with the cookies on it) carefully to a cold, empty baking sheet to speed cooling.

When cookies are fully cool, you can drizzle with melted chocolate, or sandwich two cookies together with melted chocolate. (250 g. or 1 1/2 c. chopped chocolate will be more than enough for the whole batch.)

Store between layers of waxed or parchment paper, in a covered container at room temperature - or in the freezer.

The Florentine cookies were good, but on their own, they kind of left me wanting. I guess when I think of cookies, I want something that has a little more bite to it, something less "dainty". I really think they will be nice in ice cream, where they will add a bit of character and crunch to plain vanilla.

When I turned my attention to the panna cotta portion of the challenge, one of my favorite food idea people was there to help me: Lo. One of the things I appreciate most about bouncing ideas off of Lo is her impeccable palate. Of all the people I've met, I will give her the best taster award. She is just the one I want in my corner to ask what something needs, when I taste it myself and can't figure it out. While we had a nice email exchange about flavor possibilities (including goat cheese, as a possible savory option), I settled in on making Rishi Tea's Cinnamon Plum Panna Cotta. Peef and Lo had recently made a Cinnamon Plum Ice Cream that they loved...

Rishi's Cinnamon Plum tea is really a thing of beauty. Many times, I've tried herbal teas that were overpoweringly floral or artificial tasting. This one is so well crafted that no one flavor overwhelms the others, and it is as pretty to look at as it is to taste. Their panna cotta is made by first steeping the tea in the cream to infuse the flavors. I didn't expect it to be as subtle as it was, but it was perfect! The faintest lavender color, and not at all too sweet. In contrast to the Florentine cookies, I followed the instructions exactly. Except when it came to discarding the used tea.

Cinnamon Plum Tea "Simple Syrup" will be used for more than panna cotta in the future.

Rishi Cinnamon Plum Panna Cotta (Rishi Tea)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 T. Rishi Organic Cinnamon Plum Tea
  • 3 T. cold water
  • 1 envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatine
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream, milk and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring mixture just to a simmer, but do not let it boil. Remove from heat. Add tea, stir and cover. Steep for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl (4 quart size), add the cold water and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Pour the infused cream mixture through a fine sieve, pushing on the tea with the back of a spoon to extract all of the cream. (This is where I did not discard the tea!) Return the cream to the pan and re-warm.

Pour the warm tea over the gelatin in the bowl. Stir well until gelatin has completely dissolved.

Divide the panna cotta mixture evenly among 8 teacups, small bowls, or ramekins. Cool to room temperature, cover each cup with plastic wrap, and chill until set (about 2 hours).

While panna cotta is chilling, make the syrup. In a small bowl combine the following:
  • 2 T. Rishi Organic Cinnamon Plum
  • 4 t. sugar
  • 2 T. hot water
Stir until sugar dissolves. Let steep for 5 minutes and strain syrup, discarding tea (I used this Discarded tea to make a pot of tea for me to drink while writing this...). Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To serve (according to Rishi):
Garnish each panna cotta with 2 or 3 pistachios, 2 or 3 dried currents, a drizzle of the syrup and a tiny dash or two of ground cinnamon.

I was supposed to toss the cream infused tea, but just could not. After munching on a few of the plumped up currants, and insisting Sasa do the same, she said "Don't toss it, Rebecca. It smells like Oatmeal Cookies." To which I responded: "Oatmeal Cookies! I was supposed to serve the panna cotta with oatmeal Florentines!" I figured there was no excuse to waste that amazing "used" tea, and got out the Vita-Mix.

I ground the leftover tea into a "tea flour" with 1/2 c. rolled oats and a tablespoon or so of wheat flour. It smelled exactly as an oatmeal cookie should, like home, healthfulness, and a warm, line-dried blanket.

Since the tea was soaked and softened a bit, I would imagine that it could be ground in a food pro or regular blender. It's worth trying. I'm imagining that tea flour could be substituted for a portion of the flour in a whole host of favorite recipes.

(Cinnamon Plum Tea) Oatmeal Cookies

makes about 2 dozen
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature soft
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • leftover Cinnamon Plum tea from Panna Cotta recipe blended with 1/2 c. oatmeal and about 2 T. wheat flour (about 3/4 c. total)
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. raisins
  • (could add a touch more cinnamon if you like really cinnamon-y cookies)
Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together until lightened.

In a separate bowl, combine "tea flour", baking soda, salt, rolled oats and flour and stir to combine well.

Add to butter mixture and mix well, then add raisins and mix well again. (The batter will be stiff.) Refrigerate dough until cold (I left mine chill overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll balls of cookie dough about 1 1/2 T. big, and flatten gently between your palms. They don't spread too much, so you can place them about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, until they look brown around the edges and somewhat set in the middle. Cool on pans for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

When I tried my first bite of panna cotta, I was overwhelmed. It was so rich and creamy, and not at all as "gelatinized" as I thought it would be. I used my favorite Crystal Ball whole milk and heavy cream, which in my opinion is more milky tasting than any milk I've ever had. After a bite or two, I took a bite of a cookie and discovered why you need something buttery and crunchy with panna cotta. It's a match made in foodie heaven. (One note about the using the Crystal Ball cream and milk: because it is not homogenized, the tops of some of my panna cottas buckled a bit as the cream rose to the surface. It didn't affect the flavor or texture at all, just the visuals. Fortunately, I could cover with a thin layer of the tea simple syrup to disguise it!)

The tea cookies tasted much more of tea without the panna cotta accompaniment, but were so delicious alongside that it wouldn't matter to me which way I'd make it. You would think that now I am Cinnamon Plum Tea'd Out, but I am not.

So thanks to my Daring Baker Challenge, my month was bookended by oatmeal cookies, I learned why people are crazy for panna cotta, and I developed a way to use up leftover tea. I also deepened my love for Rishi, and vow to try more of their herbal blends. I am curious if more herbal tea can be ground up and added to baked goods! Thank you to Mallory for a nice challenge choice, and be sure to check out the Daring Kitchen for recipes and the blogroll.

Sprouted Wheat Cookies, or In Which I Try Not to Really Want to be Driving a Luxury Car.

I can not tell you how often I think of George Costanza, specifically this quote: "I wish I was a Civil War buff". I guess, I don't care much to think about wars in general, but I frequently wish I was a buff about other things. Unlike Costanza, whenever I hear the "I wish" ringing proverbially in my ears, I do something about it. I may not have the credentials, but thanks in great part to my local library, the Internet, and my Husband (who affords me the luxury of my unemployed life), I can learn at my own pace about a whole mountain range of things. Lately, this predominately includes grains and sprouting grains.

Sprouted, and dried, spelt.

It took me awhile to actually set out learning about it, I won't lie. I do procrastinate, and get interested in goofy stuff that is time consuming outside of the food world. But, when finally I am properly obsessed, and armed with a plethora of information, I turn into a health food force to be reckoned with. For something as simple as cracking open a book or two, or spending a few unadulterated minutes with the computer, I can glean all I need to be a buff of sorts. A grain buff. That's right.

Whenever I feel a little broke and sad that I can't afford the things I'd like to have and maybe the things I'd maybe like to do if I was independently wealthy, I remember that I have one of the most marvelous pieces of machinery to be built on American soil: the Vita-Mix. I may daydream of German engineering, but I have a pretty well-designed, and tough-as-nails appliance at my disposal. I have nothing to wear to a 4 star restaurant, but man, I can grind grain in my own kitchen and that is amazing.

A few days ago, I sprouted some spelt to grind into flour. What is spelt? I actually never knew, despite my years of health-foodie shopping. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat, that is sometimes even tolerated by those with wheat allergies. It still contains gluten, allowing it to be used in bread making and in other baked goods. It may have also made a "comeback" because it requires less fertilizing than other grain. It has been cultivated in America since the 1890's, and interestingly (at least to me), the Germans have enjoyed it as Grünkern - unripened grain that is dried and eaten as is. Now, if I could be a R8-driving, Grünkern snacking, health food aficionado, I'd really have it made... A girl can only dream.

While I may have to daydream into the oblivion for the wheels, I'm probably closer to that Grünkern than I think. One thing that impressed me about the sprouted, then dried, spelt is that it was dramatically less tooth-breaking than it's wheat cousins. I actually chomped on quite a few of them in the process of checking it's dryness- and I also burned my left hand twice, since I've been doing my "dehydrating" in the oven for lack of a dehydrator. It was a bit less sweet than wheat in my opinion, but tasty. When ground into flour, it had all of the miraculousness of the other types of wheat I sprouted and ground: a blend of what I would call healthy and otherworldly sweet toothsome-ness. It is safe to say that I've never experienced anything like sprouted grain, and that I like it a whole lot.

There appears to be two camps when it comes to the nutrition in grain. One camp firmly believes that the phytic acid in grains is reduced only when the whole grain is left to begin it's enzymatic change via sprouting. The other camp affirms that already ground grains that are left to soak also are equally nutritious. I'm not sure which camp I belong to. I think that my sourdough bread is actually a bit better when using non-sprouted grains, and I have to think that the whole lot of it is cultured since it sits for nearly a day before I bake it. It is far less dense this way than when made with the sprouted flour. But on the other hand, sprouted flour is an entity to be reckoned with. It's almost too precious to be used on something for daily consumption.

Rather than be stuck in the middle of an unwinnable grain battle, I think I'm firmly Switzerland in that I will use the bulk of my sprouted grain flours in sweet baked goods. The flavor really shines, and I have no doubts that they are better for me than their conventional relatives. The first cookies I made used coconut oil and they were good. The second batch however, I used butter. They were fantastic.

After looking over a number of recipes, most are really very similar. About a half cup of butter or coconut oil and about a cup of sprouted grain flour is the common denominator in scores of cookies. If you start experimenting sprouted flour as I have, you will quickly find what appeals to you. What appeals to me is lightly sweetened, grainy tasting sweets, with a bit of chocolate to make me feel like I've eaten some dessert and not another piece of bread. I adapted today's version from Cheeseslave.

Sprouted Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Cheeseslave)
makes 29 cookies with my small disher (about 1 1/2 T. balls)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • scant 1/4 cup raw sugar (I am working toward a better sugar option, but haven't gotten obsessed with that yet...)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sprouted spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 ounces tiny chocolate chips from Outpost (or your food co-op)
Preheat oven to 375.

Cream butter together with sugar until lightened, a minute or two.

Add egg and vanilla, and blend well.

Set a sifter over the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Fold in with a spatula until combined, then add chocolate chips and fold until evenly dispersed.

Scoop out onto parchment lined baking sheet, and bake 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets half way through the baking time.

If you have ever had a little package of cookies from a vending machine and envied the texture, these are the healthful version for you. They are crumbly and buttery, slightly sweet and the teeny tiny chocolate chips really make it feel "processed" in all the best ways. Not to mention, I think the chips I can get in my co-op's bulk bins are organic to boot. Not bad for a little something sweet after supper!

As the wind and snow howl and we hunker down for the evening, and likely the bulk of tomorrow, I'll have slowly sprouting grain to keep me company. The garage, however, will likely pine for the dream car for years to come. A cupful or two of grain can easily keep my enthusiasm forever, and well within my meager means.

My Dad always says that I have "Champagne taste on a beer budget", and I really wouldn't have it any other way. I really wish I could say that I was a car buff, an "enthusiast" if you will, that had the USD's to take driving tours of Europe, but if I did I've never be crazy about grain or likely any foodstuff that enriches my life abundantly. I'll decide instead to be content, to settle for being a grain buff for now, eyes forward, looking for that next impossible infatuation - one that can be mine since I am not George Costanza.

Sprouted Grain Flour

I have wanted to sprout grains and make flour for quite awhile. I tend to read a lot of different things around the Internet and in books, and then mentally compile them into a rational reason for doing something. Certainly, it's easier to open a bag of flour and make a baked good, but the more I read about flours, chemicals, digestion, and nutrition, the more sprouting seems to make good sense to me.

Obviously, I am the type who often makes more work for herself than needed - and the truth of that is that I have the time and I enjoy it. As I read frequently by electronic means, I consider how I'd make a good Amishwoman excepting of this technology thing. Oh, and the dresses - not too sure I could swing that either. A few things withstanding, the Amish way of life is close to what I'd like if I could choose anything. The idea of making whatever I need, bartering with others, and country living all appeal to me greatly. I may lose a Husband if I ever felt I needed to act on this urge, but truly I am happy being urban-ish "amish" for now. Especially if I can make, barter, and discover on a whim, and with the aid of a computer.

soft wheat berries.

The Amish are in a time freeze somewhere around 1860, probably before the smooth mechanization and distribution of flour. From all of my readings on sprouting wheat (and other grains), I take away that sprouting wheat increases both digestibility and food enzymes and decreases phytic acid: the acid found in nuts, seeds, and grains that is undigestible to humans. When the grain is soaked and allowed to begin germination, the phytic acid breaks down, allowing the nutrition in the grain itself to enter our systems.

I think of the Amish, because every Fall, I witness the sheaves of corn and occasionally wheat dotting the countryside near my Parent's farm. I figure that even though most of that grain is likely going to livestock and is not for human consumption, it is most likely healthier for those ruminants because essentially it is sprouted. The sheaves are left standing in the elements, even the rain, and then allowed to dry - the way our ancestors likely treated their grains by necessity. When demand and modernization caught up with us, the grains and flours were able to be processed quickly, more efficiently. The once nutritional flour powerhouse we are left with is basically plain and white, devoid of life-giving, healthful properties.


I won't lie. It takes time to sprout. Largely unattended time, but time nonetheless. Purchasing sprouted flour is costly, and really I have never considered it. My curiosity for most things culinary, and my new VitaMix that can actually grind wheat into flour, led me down the road of sprouted flour. I have to say it will be hard to turn around. After my first batch of soft wheat berries was ground up into flour, it bore no resemblance to anything I ever thought of as flour.

sprouted to tiniest tails.

The smell, and taste for that matter, of the freshly ground, sprouted and dried grain is incredible. I can't describe it, it's just wholesome and clean. I have no dehydrator so I dried the sprouted berries in the oven at my lowest temperature, 170 degrees. I left the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and frequently put my hands in to toss the grains around on the baking sheet. It took about 3 hours until the grains were dried, a much shorter time than I was expecting after reading around... but I chomped on a few and confirmed that they were fully dried.

After they cooled, I stored them in the freezer until yesterday when I decided I couldn't wait anymore to grind them. Since I sprouted the only wheat berries I had on hand, I didn't know if they were hard wheat (suitable for bread making) or soft. Yesterday when I visited the bulk bins at my co-op, I knew by sight that they were soft wheat, probably purchased for salad making. My dreams of making my first homemade, sprouted wheat flour into bread was gone, but a healthy baked good could result. I picked up some more hard wheat berries and some spelt berries to experiment with and headed home to figure out what to make.

sprouted, dehydrated wheat berries.

sprouted wheat flour.

I have to gear up to make my Daring Baker challenge, so I didn't want to make a cake. I settled quickly on making some cookies, which are wholesome enough to showcase the brilliance of this new sprouted flour. (And, the Boy-O devoured them too!) They were delicious, and I should have made a whole batch instead of a half... since these aren't going to last too long. For the half batch, I used 2 eggs, which worked out fine.

Sprouted Wheat Cookies (from GNOWFLINS)

(this is the whole batch amount, about 4 1/2 - 5 dozen)
  • 1 cup unrefined, virgin coconut oil, softened
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 3 eggs (or they recommend 1/4 cup flax seed meal + 3/4 cup pure water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-1/4 cups sprouted wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (soaking recommended, but I did not do that)

Cream together room temperature coconut oil and honey in large mixing bowl.

Add eggs to mixing bowl (or the flax seed/water mixture that has been mixed and allowed to stand for 5 minutes) along with vanilla and beat.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl, and add to wet ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix until just combined.

Add chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, and oats to mixing bowl. Mix gently until just incorporated.

Drop by tablespoons full onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

Be sure to drop by the GNOWFGLINS website, as there is an enormous amount of information and great looking "traditional foods" recipes!

We do live in a "gluten-centric" culture here in America, and I have to wonder if that may account for the seeming increase in gluten allergy. My Husband's box of highly colored and sugared cereal even touts "whole grain" and "high in vitamin D", the buzz words that cause and reinforce consumer purchase. But what is whole grain? From now on, my whole grain is going to be an actual whole grain berry if I can swing it. The cost differential isn't that great, and if I am half as happy with the bread as I was with my cookies, it will be well worth it.

I'm sure this will not be the end of my sprouted grain tinkering. Here is a (partial) list of things I've been reading lately on sprouting: