Jewish Bread Recipes
Essene Bread Recipe
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Essene Bread

an ancient recipe from the book Bread on Earth

* 3 cups wheat berries (available from your natural foods store)


2 small breads


Beginning several days before you hope to be eating this bread, rinse the wheat berries in cool water, drain and submerge the berries with cool water in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or cloth, and allow the berries to soak at normal room temperature overnight or for about 12 hours.

The berries will soak up a considerable amount of water. Drain the berries in a colander, cover the colander with a plate to prevent the berries from drying out, and set it in a place where the sun won't shine on it.

Rinse the berries about 3 times a day, and they will soon begin to sprout. In a couple of days the sprouts will reach their optimum length of about l/4". Growth depends on moisture and temperature.

Grinding the berries is the next step. Probably the Essenes ground them up with rocks, but that isn't required. I use a Corona hand mill for this rather messy task-the messy aspect is cleaning the mill-but a meat grinder or a food processor might also work.

After grinding, dump the mushed up grain onto a clean work surface. Squeeze and knead the grain for about 10 minutes, and then form up 2 small round, hearth-style loaves with your hands.

Sprinkle an insulated cookie sheet with a little bran or cornmeal, and put the loaves on it. Preheating the oven is not necessary.

Cover the loaves with cloches and bake at 35 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 325 degrees F and bake for approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes more.

During this extraordinarily long bake, you'll have plenty of time to clean your grinder or even take a longer than usual power nap. Your efforts will be well rewarded with a couple of most singular breads-solid, sweet, and moist.

Traditionally, Essene bread was probably baked on hot rocks under scorching sunlight, but where I and most of us live, this is not possible. Baking at the oven temperatures which I suggest might destroy the sprout enzymes, but monitoring baking loaves for much longer than 2 hours is too long for me. Guaranteeing the preservation of the enzymes might require baking at a very low temperature for perhaps 4 hours. If you have the stamina, then go for it.

Allow the breads to cool thoroughly on cooling racks for several hours, and then, because of the high moisture content, store in the refrigerator. For best results, slice this bread thinly or break with hands.


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