Friday 18 April 2008

WHEAT Part II: How to make Essene Bread - step by step, with pictures

'Sprouted breads', 'Ezekiel bread'...may or may not be baked at relatively low temperatures (ie as compared with a sliced white), but they're not raw. Raw breads are made at no higher a temperature than 118F, and often lower. There are lots of recipes for tasty raw breads (often made with a flax base) on raw forums and in raw recipe books, but they generally require the use of a dehydrator. Essene bread on the other hand needs only air, light and a little water (for sprouting). So, this article is not about making a multi-ingredient raw bread that looks and tastes a little like cooked bread - the kind that might satisfy non-raw friends and relations. It's for those who would like to try making a small portion of the most elemental raw bread - bread made from wheat only.

One of my inspirations for going raw was The Essene Gospel of Peace. But, to be honest, when I read the words 'do not cook' the first time, they went in one ear and out the other! But it all came together, with other things, a while later...The EGOP contains dietary advice that is pretty much in line with the experiences and practices of raw fooders in recent years, except these words were said to have been spoken thousands of years ago. It describes a process rather like an enema or colonic, advises us to fast, not to eat before midday, and not to mix lots of ingredients together (which of course is a bit of a problem for gourmet raw food...)

Here, Jesus, or the Teacher (depending on who one believes the EGOP is about) tells his followers how to make bread:

'How should we cook our daily bread without fire, Master?' asked some with great astonishment. 'Let the angels of God prepare your bread. Moisten your wheat, that the angel of water may enter it. then set it in the air, that the angel of air also may embrace it. And leave it from morning to evening beneath the sun, that the angel of sunshine may descend upon it. And the blessing of the three angels will soon make the germ of life to sprout in your wheat. Then crush your grain, and make thin wafers, as did your forefathers when they departed out of Egypt, the house of bondage. Put them back again beneath the sun from its appearing, and when it is risen to its highest in the heavens, turn them over on the other side that they be embraced there also by the angel of sunshine, and leave them there until the sun be set. For the angels of water, of air, and of sunshine fed and ripened the wheat in the field, and they, likewise, must prepare also your bread. And the same sun which, with the fire of life, made the wheat to grow and ripen, must cook your bread with the same fire. For the fire of the sun gives life to the wheat, to the bread, and to the body. But the fire of death kills the wheat, the bread, and the body.'

The people listening to the Teacher's instructions were living in Israel. Here is my UK-type-climate version:

Essene Bread
Makes one serving (The whole process, ie draining yesterday's soaked seeds for sprouting, soaking new ones, making the bread, and washing up, takes me no longer than ten minutes each morning, if that.)

Take one quarter cup of hard wheatberries (wheat seeds). I buy mine from The Fresh Network at £5.99 for 5 kilos (about 12 lbs).

Soak the berries for 24 hours. I recommend using a sprouting jar (a large wide-mouthed jar with a mesh lid). If you don't have one, band some netting to a wide-mouthed jar. If you live in a warm climate, soak in the fridge, else the berries will quickly ferment.

Drain, rinse, drain again, making sure all the water has drained out, then sprout for 24 hours (rinse twice in that time, ideally...), tilting the jar - mouth downwards - at a 45 degree angle, propping it in a small bowl.
The berries will sprout more on a bright day than a dull day. But it doesn't matter - just to have sprouted at all is enough. You can just about see here (below).

(Note for those in a warm climate - don't let the wheat get too warm, else it will ferment. Also, your wheat may well sprout enthusiastically in just a few hours and, if so, you will have to adjust the timetable, that is, process a few hours later rather than 24 hours later.)

Next day (morning) process the sprouted berries. I use a mini food processor. Process until you can form a sticky ball of dough. It will be grainy and textured - no need to aim for smooth. I give it 3-4 goes in the processor, around 15 seconds each time, pushing the mixture down to the blade between goes.

Stop when the dough looks like this.

Gather up the dough into a ball, then, using fingers, press out flat,
to around the size and thickness of a small pitta bread.

Leave in a light place, on baking parchment. It doesn't need to be in direct sunlight. On a dull day it will be ready by evening (turn midday). On a warm sunny day it can be left outside and will be ready by lunchtime (turn mid-morning); to keep flies away, cover with a piece of fine netting (or one of those 'tents' that are used to protect dishes at outside buffets).

What does it taste like? Very 'plain', but of course that's how it's meant to be - the whole wheat, and nothing else. For most people, nothing like 'bread-as-they-know-it'. I thought it tasted strange at first, as I wasn't used to the taste of pure wheat. Then I got used to it, and the wheat started to taste sweet to me. Then I grew to love it. I suspect that at the time the instructions were given, the bread was eaten plain. However, I usually spread it with mashed avocado, sliced tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt. Although it's breaking the 'fruit with slower-to-digest food' rule, I do also love it folded with dates mashed inbetween, and don't seem to suffer any ill-effects!

Postscript Dec 08: This article is probably the most frequently-visited of all the RawforLife blog articles, and has been linked to on many raw food forums. Two things I'd like to make clear:

1) I've heard it referred to as 'Debbie Took's Essene Bread'. It most certainly isn't. It is Essene Bread as described in The Essene Gospel of Peace.

2) People have asked if they can add this and that to the recipe. And I've seen recipe books describe multi-ingredient raw breads as Essene breads. The Teacher instructed us not to mix foods together, and was quite clear that the bread should be made of sprouted grain only. Adding other grains and/or salt and/or dried fruit/whatever may make a tasty 'raw/sprouted bread' popular with raw fooders (and I have enjoyed such breads myself), but this would be in direct opposition to the Teacher's instructions. I realise people may want to add ingredients to the basic recipe, but please...don't then call it Essene bread.

I'm also aware that there are manufacturers of cooked breads who are using the name 'Essene Bread' to sell breads which are nothing of the sort.


Anonymous said...

Thanx for this Debbie..

I am reading The Essene Gospel of Peace, tiz inspiring.

Love & Blessings
Kelly x

Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie

Thanks for posting this - my first batch is on the balcony benefiting from a few rays from the angel of sunshine as I type.

I love the simplicity of this but I'm wondering if you've tried putting it in the dehydrator for a bit and if so for how long.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Antony :-)

Debbie Took said...

Hi Antony

What a lovely sunny day (in the UK at least) to make Essene bread! It'll probably 'do' within a few hours on a day like this.

I've never dehydrated it. This is simply because although I do love to use the dehydrator for some things (eg other breads and flax crackers), I prefer to keep my Essene bread as close to the original as possible.

Even on a dull day I find that if I leave it out in the kitchen it's still just about done by the evening, and even if it's a little damp, I eat it anyway - folds around a filling easily that way - and have not had any ill-effects.

Hooray for the lovely sunny weather now - we can put the bread outside!

So glad to hear you're making it, Anthony. Hope you enjoy it!

Love, Debbie

BerryBeauty said...

How do those you have wheat intolerances react to raw wheat? I've heard that they are usually fine with unprocessed raw wheat. I'd love to make this recipe as i don't have a dehydrator and have been craving some kind of bready thing.

Debbie Took said...

Hi BerryBeauty

Good to hear from you.

Have a look at the article on wheat that preceded this.

I've read plenty of reports from those who had wheat intolerances that say they're fine with raw, sprouted wheat, but these have been mainly on forums, ie there are no 'scientific studies' that I'm aware of.

Unknown said...

Wow. WOW! I just made this for the first time today. Plain, it was great! Then I mimicked you and put some avocado and a lil' sea salt on, and it was a-may-zing! I was literally giggling to myself as I ate it. You know, the first time I read this I thought it was "essence bread", but it might as well be. Aah, I've probably just been craving starches and fats too much lately. =)

Ate with a side of lettuce from the garden and fresh organic baby cucumbers. No tomatoes on hand, so I'll have to try that another time - you've had no problems with that combination even though acid/starch is supposed to be no-no?

I'm curious, are there any reasons for letting it dry out other than taste and texture? Should I think twice about eating the whole sprouted wheat without making the actual bread?

Debbie Took said...

Hi Jonas

Glad you liked it!

No, I had no problem with the combination. Sometimes I get away with these things, sometimes I don't :-)

And, yes, you could eat the sprouted wheat just as it is. Some people mix it into salads, but, be warned...I remember using it in a salad once, and I had gas bigtime. Must have mixed it with something my digestive system objected to!

Unknown said...

Hi Debbie,

Can I know if I can cover it with a corning ware glass cover in the sun. I live in the tropics and my patio gets very hot sun. In other words, must it be aired otherwise there may be condensation on the glass cover. Also how thin should the bread be, quarter inch?

Debbie Took said...


I think it would only work if it was aired as i dried, as otherwise I think it would ferment/go bad really quickly.

Thickness - press it out flat. It should be no thicker than a thin pitta bread, in fact I'd say mine is generally thinner than that.

Aran said...

Well it's a couple of years on, and you still have people searching for Essene bread.. I've also just read the Essene Gospel of Peace and I love the philosophy of it ... I do have an electric dehydrator but since we're in Northern Ontario, although we get bad winters, we also get HOT summers, so I've asked hubby to make me a solar dehydrator for sundrying tomatoes etc, plus I'm going to try thise Essene Recipe.

Debbie Took said...

Great! But of course if you have hot summers, just dry the Essene bread outside.


Thanks so much for your blog on Essene Bread.
I got a recipe from a book that said:
"wash the wheat berries every day for 3 - 5 days (close with cloth) and leave in dark space." After 3 - 5 days when berries have sprouted, was again and blend for about two minutes until mushy. Knead for 10 minutes make a round ball and bake for an hour at 350F.

It didn't work out, he he. I baked it for an hour and half and its still not done.

Now I will try it the correct way - your way