Does soaking make a difference? It’s the million dollar question of the week (and weeks to come). There is enough anecdotal evidence that soaking does something, something good, that I’m still a believer, even as I research further.
My One-Bowl Healthy Pumpkin Muffins became a huge hit last fall and remain one of my most popular posts, often discovered via search engines. They deserve all those accolades and more. They are the easiest, most moist muffins you’ll ever find. The only person in the world who doesn’t like them is our 4-year-old neighbor. Trust me. 🙂
It took one batch of concave muffins, still moist but rather dense, for me to nail the soaked version, which really is within 95% as good as the original.
I’m fiddling with all sorts of things for my upcoming Healthy Snacks to Go and Have Your (Healthy!) Dessert and Eat it Too eBooks. Sometimes I even take samples when I go out to meet others for dinner. This recipe has a cameo in Healthy Snacks, along with a handful of reverse engineered Larabars, and I’ve got a workable soaked whole wheat brownie recipe that will be golden with a few tweaks. Drooling yet? Heh heh heh. 🙂
NOTE: Recipe updates and a nicely formatted printable version of this and 30 other “Healthy Snacks to Go” recipes now available as an eBook!
Without further ado, here’s your weekend snack:
- 1⅔ cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 c. pureed pumpkin
- ¾ c. water
- 2 Tbs buttermilk or plain yogurt
- ½ c. melted butter or refined coconut oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
- 1 c. sugar or sucanat
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- Soak white whole wheat flour, pureed pumpkin (optional), water, buttermilk/yogurt, and butter/coconut oil together overnight or for 12-24 hours on the countertop.
- When ready to bake, add the sweetener, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and 3 spices. Mix well - be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl a few times and beat hard to get everything fully incorporated.
- Pour into muffin cups and bake 40-45 minutes at 325 degrees F (35-40 with honey). They’ll be a bit more moist than you’re used to with the “toothpick test”.
- Do not overbake!
- Allow to rest 5 minutes in the tins, then tip out to cool on racks.
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Sometimes soaked versions of recipes can leave something to be desired. The ultimate compliment on this one: Husband said, “Yum!” and he didn’t notice anything different than normal. Yee-hah!
If you’d like to see the other versions, including the original with white flour all the way to a no-white-sugar option, see the first healthy pumpkin muffins post.
Adapt Your Own Recipes
Many recipes can be adapted for soaking, some easily, some take a little more work. Quickbreads aren’t the easiest, but biscuits, pancakes, breads, and tortillas are usually no problem.
1. How much liquid does your recipe call for? The cookbook Nourishing Traditions claims that 1 Tbs acidic medium per cup of liquid will satisfy the requirements for the proper soaking pH. Adjust your recipe likewise. For example, if your bread recipe contains 3 cups of water or milk, start with 3 Tbs of whey, vinegar, lemon juice (etc.) in your measuring cup and add liquid to complete the 3 cups.
2. Mix the liquid and flour (or oats or other grains) together 12-24 hours before baking. Overnight is usually a convenient time. You can include the fat and/or sweetener in the recipe at this point if you would like.
3. Leave the mixture covered to soak at room temperature, or better yet, somewhere even warmer. The oven with the pilot light (or just oven light) on is a great place for soaking.
4. In the morning or after the 12-24 hour soak, when you are ready to complete the recipe, simply add the remaining ingredients and bake as directed.
- If your recipe calls for yogurt or buttermilk anyway, that is sufficient to satisfy the acidic medium. You won’t have to add anything to the recipe; just mix the yogurt/buttermilk and flour or grains overnight, then proceed with the recipe as written.
- Special instructions for yeast bread: Since the yeast cannot be added for the overnight soak, you’ll need to withhold 1/2 cup of water from your recipe with which to ‘proof’ the yeast. When you’re ready to finish the dough, mix the yeast with 1/2 cup water and sweetener, proof for 5 minutes at room temperature, then add to the dough that has been soaking overnight. Knead and allow to rise as directed in your recipe.
- For biscuits, tortillas, or other bread products that call for cutting a solid fat into the flour, then adding a liquid, just make the dough as you normally would except add the acidic medium to your liquid and withhold the salt or baking powder/soda. (Salt inhibits the soaking process.) Leave the nearly-finished dough on the counter overnight, and gently (in the case of a pastry) add the salt before baking. If you find that your pastry is overhandled with this method, you can add the salt at the beginning and just do the best you can with the soaking.
- If you adapt a recipe that uses baking powder to rise like muffins or cornbread, you may need to decrease the baking powder and add up to 1 tsp. baking soda to make up for the sour factor in the soaking medium. Try the recipe normally first, but if your result is more dense than you’re used to, adjust as needed.
I learned the trick of adding some baking soda (and sometimes reducing the baking powder) from the More-with-Less Cookbook’s cornbread option using sour milk. The acidity of sour milk, buttermilk, or yogurt necessitates a small change in the rising agent. Concave muffins aren’t that cute!
You can see the ever-so-simple directions for soaking oatmeal too, and if you’ve never soaked anything, that’s a great place to start!
If you feel like soaking grains or other traditional foods preparation techniques are a bit foreign to you, do consider taking the GNOWFGLINS eCourse, where you’ll learn through video, audio, recipes, and textual information how to get comfortable with 14 different techniques. There’s also a sourdough eCourse that I’m teaching a few lessons in!