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Overcoming Gluten Intolerance by Marilyn Moll

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Overcoming Gluten Intolerance -
The Two-Stage Process - Does it make a difference and why?
The two-stage process is a term coined by Sue Gregg, author of Sue Gregg Cookbooks, for a method of preparing yeast breads in which the grain or flour is soaked, sprouted, or fermented, for a period of time, prior to kneading the dough, in order to maximize the nutritional value of whole grain bread.

Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting the flour or grain are methods used traditionally by our ancestors for preparing grains, porridges, or breads.  These slower, more gentle methods contrast sharply with modern factory and commercial baking techniques.  Only recently has research documented the chemical changes that occur using these slower methods and the corresponding health benefits.

According to Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig, in their book Nourishing Traditions, enzyme inhibitors, tannins, complex sugars, difficult to digest proteins, “anti-nutrients” (substances which put a strain on our digestive system and pancreas), and other factors in whole grains contribute to a variety of digestive disorders.  It has been hypothesized that improperly prepared whole grains, consumed for a long period of time, may contribute to increasing incidences of gluten intolerance, grain allergies, celiac  disease, chronic indigestion, mineral deficiencies, and bone loss.

The slow process of soaking flour or whole grains in an acidic environment neutralizes phytic acid, which is contained in the bran, and which blocks absorption of minerals, and significantly boosts the availability of vitamin and mineral content to the body.  The authors  point out that “Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.” during the soaking, sprouting, or fermenting process.
In addition, Fallon and Enig write in Nourishing Traditions: 

“Our ancestors, and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world will prove our point: In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas; in Africa the natives soak coarsely ground corn overnight before adding it to soups and stews and they ferment corn or millet for several days to produce a sour porridge called ogi; a similar dish made from oats was traditional among the Welsh; in some Oriental and Latin American countries rice receives a long fermentation before it is prepared; Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes, called pozol, are fermented for several days and for as long as two weeks in banana leaves; before the introduction of commercial brewers yeast, Europeans made slow-rise breads from fermented starters; in America the pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes and biscuits; and throughout Europe grains were soaked overnight, and for as long as several days, in water or soured milk before they were cooked and served as porridge or gruel.” (Many of our senior citizens may remember that in earlier times the instructions on the oatmeal box called for an overnight soaking.)” (pg. 452)
My bread recipes do not reflect the two-stage process, because  I encourage beginning bakers to master the basics of yeast bread making before undertaking this soaking, sprouting, or fermenting method.

 Although I had started making fermented bread with a wild-caught sour dough starter several years ago (one of the methods mentioned in Nourishing Traditions, I found the very slow rising time resulted in very sour bread and the very long raising time was often not compatible with my busy schedule.  Sue Gregg introduced me to the Two-Stage Process which I find works well with my schedule; in fact, I would consider this method somewhat of a convenience. 
Bread that has been made using the two-stage process is moister for longer periods of time, and stales very slowly. 

Adapting Marilyn's Famous Whole Wheat Bread -Recipe to maximize nutritional value
1. Soak the whole grain flour in liquid.  Using 1 tbsp. of an “acid” medium such as kefir, yogurt, buttermilk or whey for each cup of water called for in Marilyn's Bread Recipe.  For example, if a recipe calls for 6 cups water, use 6 tbsp. kefir, yogurt or buttermilk along with the water.  You can substitute  lemon juice or vinegar instead if you suspect dairy intolerance. 
Add the honey and oil called for in the recipe along with enough flour to make a thick batter.  Mix the liquid and flour ingredients only until moistened and then begin the “soaking”  time.  For the hand method, use about 5- 6 cups whole grain flour.  Use 11-12 cups flour for the Large Mixer method.
Twelve to twenty-four hours or more soaking time will yield the best results.  The longer you soak the flour the more sour dough-like taste it will have.  However, be flexible, soak the flour as long as you have time for so that this process fits into your routine smoothly; any soaking time improves texture, nutrition, and flavor.  Just mix the liquid and water long enough to moisten the flour before the soaking time begins.  This is a little bit like "sponging" however no yeast is used.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.

 2. After the liquid, honey, oil, and flour has soaked, blend the following in a liquid measuring cup and allow to proof for 10 minutes:
1/4 cup-1/2 cup warm water
SAF yeast called for in the recipe (conventional yeasts may be substituted)
1 tsp. honey or sugar
3. Work the yeast mixture into the dough along with enough flour until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl. 
4. Be sure to add the salt, and enough unbleached bread flour or additional whole grain flour as needed so that the dough is easily handled and knead the bread until the gluten is developed. For whole wheat bread it takes about 8 minutes kneading time in a Bosch mixer, or 10-12 minutes of vigorous hand kneading (about 600-800 strokes).
5. Be sure to add as little flour as needed to keep the dough moist but not sticky or from becoming too stiff (a sign that too much flour has been added).  Knead the bread until it becomes smooth and elastic, and resistant to the kneading action. Check to see if the gluten is fully developed.
6. Complete the recipe according to Marilyn's Famous Whole Wheat Bread recipe instructions for the particular version you are making.  Allow the dough to rise once in a greased bowl, and once in the bread pans.   Be prepared that the rising time will take longer because the dough is lower in temperature from sitting at room temperature. (Ideal rising temperature is 85 degrees.)
7. Allow the bread to double in pans; bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until the loaf is well browned on the top, sides, and bottom.
This two-stage procedure can be used with any yeast bread recipe.  
When you have learned to use a variety of whole grains in your diet, and your family has accepted this change, then you might want to consider moving on to the new step of adapting your recipes to   the two-stage process. 
Sue Gregg writes, “I suggest that occasional consumption of whole grains that are not processed by one of the three two-stage methods (soaking, fermenting, sprouting) is not likely detrimental to health and may contribute a plus, while those that are properly processed as the main dietary choice will be greatly beneficial to health."
Pg. 14 - An Introduction To Whole Grain Baking

Learning to prepare breads and grain products with slower methods may seem daunting or a bit intimidating or even overwhelming to a beginning baker just becoming acquainted with whole grains.  If so, put this  two-stage process information on a shelf, and come back to it when you are ready. 

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