bake - May/June 2020 - 30

the

sprouted grain

Columbia County Bread propels a
movement through hearty innovation.
BY JOHN UNREIN
Bakery owner Doug Michael of Columbia County Bread

Autoneum, Geisinger-Bloomsburg Hospital, Bloomsburg

Sprouted grains

& Granola vividly recalls the summer of 2009, when

University, and a downtown community of small busi-

play an integral role

he built a pushcart and baked about 20 loaves of

nesses from shops to restaurants.

in the success of

sprouted grain bread for the local Bloomsburg, Penn.,

"Sprouted should be its own category. When people

Columbia County

farmers' market. The town of Bloomsburg (population

buy food, particularly online, they see categories such as

Bread & Granola.

14,000), located in the central part of the state, has

paleo and gluten free. But there needs to be a sprouted

a rich history, according to local officials, and one in

grain category because sprouted fundamentally alters

which the turn of the century brought about a substan-

grain," Michael explains. "Pre-industrial cultures utilized

tial change to the local economy once iron ore was

grain in their diets, but they all knew that grain has to

exhausted and the agricultural base was depleted.

be prepared before eating it."

Textile mills began to locate in Bloomsburg, employing

Moving forward, "I'm looking really closely at what we

many people and enhancing the local economy. Today,

can do with Kernza. We just got Kernza in after signing a

Bloomsburg boasts a diverse economy thanks to

license agreement with The Land Institute, and we find it
sprouts quickly and is a very clean grain. It seems to have
a low gluten content as the dough lacks extensibility, but
we're still able to make a cracker with it either by mixing
it with sprouted wheat or using a press. As awareness
of Kernza grows and people understand the enormous
implications of what it might mean for a sustainable and
healthy food supply, we want to find ways of making
Kernza products people love and search out."
As with many local bakeries, Columbia County Bread
traces its beginnings to hard work, integrity, innovation,
and a bit of luck. "Though the loaves were sprouted, I
was still using about 20% flour for finishing but experimenting with flax seed to try to draw down the moisture
in the loaves rather than using flour," Michael recalls.
"The flax didn't work, but I liked what happened to flax
seeds when they got wet; they cluster, making a unique
flax seed granola."
A bread customer came to the market one day, Michael
recalls, and reported he was on his way to see a woman
who was a nutritionist and wanted to bring her something from the market. "I gave him a sample of the flax
I asked if he could get her thoughts. She called. She
had been looking everywhere for someone making a
flax seed granola and none existed. We met. I followed
her specific directions. She wrote a book called 'The
Plan' and in 2013 went on The Dr. Oz show. In that

30 < MON 2020 | bakemag.com

DOUG MICHAEL

granola, not sure what I was going to do with it, and


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