As food education improves, Canadians are becoming more health conscious, and are turning away from commercial baked breads to buy healthier cereal alternatives. 2012 Canadian bread sales statistics as reported in Financial Post shows many health conscious shoppers have stopped buying glutinous white bread at the supermarket because there are other more attractive bread alternatives 'rising up' in local markets. Among the most popular new choices are slow cooked sourdough breads made in artisan bakeries. These micro bakers are getting larger slices because they win on taste and health benefits.
Shasha Bread CEO Shaun Navazesh bakes with Sprouted Grains
On a cold December morning in 2014, Shasha Shaun Navazesh gave a public tour of the Shasha Bread Company organic food store and bakery in Etobicoke Ontario to show off the science of baking sourdough bread with flour made from sprouted grains.
We began our trek through this remarkable facility in the sprouted grains section of Shasha's large bakery.
ShaSha has been sprouting ancient grains since 1999. Today he sprouts Adzuki Beans, Mung Beans Lentils and Brown Rice which he dries and grinds into flour to make delicious sourdough breads. These organic ingredients are also sold separately in the Organic Food Store on the premises.
Sprouted grains, lentils and beans offer more Vitamin C to human digestive systems; the sprouting neutralizes the phytic acid in the seeds which means the vitamins and minerals in the meal are more readily absorbed by the body.
When the workers make sprouts in Shasha's specially designed high moisture chambers, they're actually starting the seed's germination process, which changes the chemical make-up of the biological package - Mother Nature's reproductive system kicks into gear to make a new organism.
When sprouting grains to make sprouted grain flour, Shasha Bread company is careful not to allow the sprouts to grow too large. They begin dehydrating the grains shortly after the root tip appears.
To prepare for the next phase of this artisanal baking process, workers dry these activated grains using a fan in a dehydration room (not in the oven). The drying is slow and time consuming; days later these same grains and pods are collected and ground on stone wheels in a grist mill on site to become a wholesome 'sprouted flour' for baking.
Shasha Bread Company Grinds Their Own Sprouted Grains
Although the flour mill occupies only a small part of the bakery, its a very busy work station on most days as so many of Shasha bread recipes require some of the many types of flour made on site. Rich in fiber, antioxidants and essential nutrients, flour made from ancient grains such as quinoa and amaranth are rapidly gaining in popularity. Also consumption of blended flours is increasing among consumers who wish to consume whole grains but are averse to the taste, flavor and texture of whole grain flour products.
With his finger on the power button, Raj the master baker explains how the grains are feed into the central hopper to travel through the machine and be transformed into fresh flour which is then bagged and labeled for the bakers in the next room. Stone ground flour is usually coarser than commercial flour reducing the loss of nutrients due to oxygen exposure. With several studies corroborating the health risks posed by excessive consumption of processed foods, consumers are increasingly including higher quantities of whole grain and fiber into their regular diet. Using this stone ground flour, the endosperm, bran, and germ of the sprouted grains are in their natural, original proportions allowing for higher and better nutrient absorption in the body.
Shasha brand Ezekiel bread is composed of over a dozen different types of flour so the grinder has a busy job.
History of Sourdough Baking - In the Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology M.G. Gaenzle writes "The origins of bread-making are so ancient that everything said about them must be pure speculation. One of the oldest sourdough breads dates from 3700 BC and was excavated in Switzerland, but the origin of sourdough fermentation likely relates to the origin of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent several thousand years earlier... Bread production relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history; the use of baker's yeast as a leavening agent dates back less than 150 years."Sourdough remained the usual form of leavening down into the European medieval times until being replaced by barm from the beer brewing process, and then later purpose-cultured yeast.
Raj prepares loaves of sourdough bread made from the nutrient rich sprouted grain flour, and then leaves them to rise in a warm room. This is one of the principle differences between artisanal bakeries and commercial breadmakers; the urban bread factories make their bleached white product in under an hour. The flour is mixed, baked, sliced and bagged in too short a time period to allow what's left of the nutrients in the pulverized wheat flour to be released into the bread. Bakers like Raj take it nice and slow and let the bacteria in the sourdough bread break down the gluten and naturally rises up into tall heathly loaves full of natural vitamins and minerals.
This is my favourite picture of Raj the breadmaker!
Today bakers in Toronto and all over Canada can buy dried BIO-Buds to add to their meals, and they can buy flour made from sprouted grains to make their baked goods.
These sprouted grains are dried and sold separately as BIO-Bud baking ingredients in the organic food store on the premises.