Adorning tables across our country during the holidays, bread is comforting and satisfying. Loving everything about bread—the aroma as it bakes, its perfect texture with butter or virgin olive oil—I wish it were as good for me as vegetables. While it will never reach the nutritional heights of the veggie tray, if chosen carefully, bread can be an enriching element of our holiday meal, rather than the empty-carb-diet-busting cheat we regret.
In the journey toward optimal health, sprouted or soaked whole grain products have become the standard in our home. As the holidays inch closer, we are determined to not compromise while also enjoying long-standing traditions. This led me to revamp an old recipe for dinner rolls into a healthier, soaked version we could feel good about.
Two adjustments in this common recipe recreate a holiday staple that is as nourishing as it is comforting. Mashed sweet potatoes are a substitute for regular mashed potatoes. This subtle change incorporates all the added nutritional value of sweet potatoes, while also decreasing the amount of sugar needed.
Soaking the wheat flour breaks down the phytic acid, which can act as an anti-nutrient if untreated. Phytic acid in grain combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc preventing their absorption. Soaking or sprouting the grain before baking neutralizes this acid, releasing the full benefit of the grain. This simple step also aids digestion, avoiding that too-full feeling often experienced after eating bread products.
Foodie that I am, it is vital to prepare food that is not only healthy, but tastes good too. This dinner roll recipe accomplishes that goal, ready just in time for our Thanksgiving feast.
Soaked-Wheat Dinner Rolls
5 c freshly ground whole wheat flour
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp dough conditioner*
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ c warm water
3 tbsp whey, kefir, or buttermilk (warm)
1 c warm mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 c palm coconut sugar or honey
2/3 c butter, softened
2 whole eggs
1 pkg active dry yeast
1. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1” cubes; boil until soft. Mash until no lumps remain.
2. Grind wheat berries into flour, sift to remove any large pieces, and measure.
3. Mix 5 cups ground flour with salt, dough conditioner, sugar, 1 ¼ cup warm water (other ¼ cup is for dissolving the yeast), whey, mashed sweet potatoes, and butter in a mixer or food processor. Mix until well incorporated.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place at least 12 hours. Overnight in an oven with the oven light on is a good spot.
5. After allowing the dough to soak in this manner, it is now ready to mix with the yeast and eggs. Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup of warm water with 1 tsp. honey. With a mixer, stir yeast and eggs into dough. Add all-purpose flour, ½ cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball; continue kneading dough about 8 minutes. The dough will be tacky, wheat dough can become dry if too much flour is added.
6. Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until double, about an hour.
7. Punch dough down and shape into rolls in a 9×13 pan or use muffin tins to make clover or pull-apart rolls. Brush with melted butter and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
8. Bake at 375° and until golden brown, 20-25 minutes in a 9×13 pan, 15 minutes in muffin tins. Makes approximately 2 dozen dinner rolls.
*Notes: The natural dough conditioner I use contains datem, ascorbic acid, l-cystine, enzymes, and wheat flour. Other natural dough conditioners include lecithin, gluten, and ginger.
On-line resources for sprouting or soaking grains: