Guest Post: Julie’s Sourdough Buckwheat Bread!

Hello! If one of your favorite parts of this blog is the crude humor, I’m sorry to disappoint, but you will have to come back tomorrow for the newest installment. This is Jack’s wife, Julie, and I will be doing a guest post today on a sourdough buckwheat bread I frequently make. My recipe is inspired by this method (and this, which is very similar).

Though it may seem counterintuitive, buckwheat does not contain any wheat or gluten – it’s gluten free. Buckwheat is also not even a grain – it’s classified as a seed. I like this bread method because it begins with the grain in its whole form and does not require using flour. Soaking the buckwheat in something acidic before baking helps to make it more digestible and to break down components that inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients.

The process outlined below requires some time and planning, as you will be soaking the buckwheat for 24 – 48 hours and then fermenting the batter for another 24 hours. I typically begin soaking my buckwheat on a Thursday evening, blend the buckwheat into a batter on Saturday morning, and then bake the bread on Sunday morning or afternoon.

This recipe produces a very dense loaf, but I have come to love the texture and the slightly sour flavor. After baking and slicing, I highly recommend toasting each slice again to improve the texture and add a nice crunch. Otherwise, the texture can be almost a bit chalky, which is not so pleasant. Because if its density, this bread is best suited for toast with your favorite toppings or an open-faced sandwich, rather than trying to eat a regular sandwich with two pieces stacked together.

I have only experimented with adding caraway seeds to this batter, but I haven’t been very adventurous beyond that. I imagine this bread could be really tasty with all kinds of different flavors added after blending it into a batter. I’m thinking of trying a cinnamon raisin combination soon. You could also try this batter as a pizza crust or even as pancakes with a few additional ingredients.

Buckwheat Sourdough Bread (makes 1 regular loaf)

Ingredients:

Stage 1:

  • 2 cups whole, raw buckwheat groats (avoid toasted buckwheat, aka “kasha”)
  • Water for soaking (amount depends on your soaking vessel)
  • 1/4 cup brine or whey for soaking

Stage 2:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Begin by measuring out two cups of buckwheat. I like to put them in two separate 1 liter mason jars, as I find this allows more room for the soaking to happen properly. You could also soak in a large bowl (but someone in our kitchen is typically using our large bowl for perpetually soaking his beans. He consumes A LOT of beans). Choose a vessel that is made of glass or non-reactive ceramic, rather than metal or plastic.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of whey or brine to the buckwheat. If you are using two jars like this, just divide the brine between the jars somewhat evenly. I usually use leftover brine from our sauerkraut, but sometimes I strain off the whey from yogurt and use this instead. I will say that I really prefer the flavor of the bread when using the brine. The whey sometimes produces a bit of a funky smell when fermenting and baking – I wonder if it may ferment faster than the brine, so the batter may go a little past its prime with my usual timing. Alternatively, you could just use some lemon juice or even vinegar for the soaking, if you don’t have any brine or whey hanging around in your kitchen.
  3. Add enough water to cover the buckwheat in the jars by double to triple. I never measure this, as you will be draining it off in the next stage. Leave this mixture to soak at least overnight, but preferably 24 – 48 hours. IMG_4883

4. Once soaked, drain the buckwheat in a colander. There is no need to rinse the buckwheat. In fact, I’ve read it’s best not to rinse it for optimal fermentation results. Pour the soaked buckwheat into a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl (not metal or plastic because these can react during the fermentation process).

5. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 1 cup of water to the buckwheat.

6. Use an immersion blender to blend up the buckwheat groats with the water and salt until they form a smooth batter. You can also use a regular blender if needed, and then transfer the mixture to a glass or ceramic bowl. I sometimes like to add in another tablespoon or so or brine or whey at this point to give the next step of fermentation a little oomph. Adding more brine at this point is optional, though.

7. Cover the buckwheat batter with cheesecloth, a nut milk bag – pictured above (insert witty joke about male anatomy here), or a clean dishtowel. Secure this well around the outside of the bowl with rubber bands to prevent any unwanted critters from making their way into your batter. You can see the texture of the batter in the picture on the right. Place the bowl in a warm place to rest (e.g., top of the fridge) for about 24 hours.

After 24 hours or so (more or less, depending on the temperature of your kitchen), your batter will look something like this. The picture on the left shows that many more bubbles have formed in the batter than were present on the previous day. This lets you know the fermentation worked. You may also notice that the batter can take on a pink hue and a bit of a weird crust on the top. This is nothing to worry about and is just part of the fermentation process.

8. After the batter has fermented and you are ready to bake it, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the oven is ready, pour the batter into a loaf pan. I use a regular 1.5 quart glass pyrex pan that I line with parchment paper. You can see that pink-ish crust in the picture on the top left above (again, nothing to worry about). I find that the glass loaf pan produces a crispier crust on my bread, compared to a stainless steel loaf pan I use sometimes. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes.

You want the top of the bread to become completely dry and crackly without any spots that still look damp. When tapped on top with your fingers, the bread should feel crispy and slightly hollow without much give. The edges of the bread will pull away from the sides of the pan and become golden brown. Sometimes, I will also pull the bread out of the pan (still in the parchment paper) and set it directly on the oven rack to bake for the final 10 minutes or so. This helps the crust to crisp up even more.

Here is the inside of the finished product! I usually let the bread cool down for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife. It can be helpful to slice it while still somewhat warm, though.

9. I typically use half of this loaf during the week and freeze the other half for the next week. To freeze, I will wrap half of the slices in the parchment I just used to bake the bread and will keep them in a plastic container in the freezer (which I thaw out the next week). The other slices, I just store in a container in the fridge. I have also tried storing the bread on the counter in a paper bag for almost a week and had good results.

Again, I highly recommend toasting individual slices before eating them, regardless of whether you store this in the fridge or on the counter. You will enjoy the end product much more this way. Top with peanut butter, jam, cream cheese, avocado, hummus, or your favorite sandwich fixings!

I hope you enjoy!

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