The Rise of the Bread

Bread is certainly one of the most interesting foods that we eat on a regular basis. Though we consume it often (daily, for many of us), the process by which bread is made is often unknown.  Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of bread baking is how bread actually rises, both as a dough and when it is baked.

The rising of the dough.

The rising of the dough.

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens that causes bread to rise while it is being baked? Perhaps you’ve been told something like, “You add this yeast thingy to the bread dough when you are mixing it and then poof!” Fully risen bread, fresh out of the oven! Yes, this is a simple version of the process, but how does the yeast make the bread rise? Maybe your dad told you there was a little wizard who lived behind the oven that made the bread rise by magic... While that certainly is a captivating theory, we can explain the actual science behind bread rising in a way that is not all that complicated or confusing.


It all comes down (or up, as the case may be) to yeast. But what is yeast? More specifically, what is active dry yeast? Active dry yeast is yeast that, once dissolved in water, will be ready for use in bread dough.

Three kinds of yeast.

Three kinds of yeast.

Yeast is actually a living single-cell organism that falls under the classification of fungi. To work its “magic”, yeast needs moisture, oxygen, the right temperature, and a food source. Under all of these conditions, the yeast organisms will reproduce and generate a form of alcoholic fermentation. During this fermentation process, the little yeast organisms consume sugars, and in doing so, produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The Breakdown

Let’s break the process down even further. First of all, bread dough is a perfect place for yeast to do its thing, and yeast actually starts its work even before the dough is baked. Bread dough kept in a warm place already has water in it, has oxygen in and around it, and is at the right temperature for yeast to work.

Here are the steps that occur when yeast is mixed into bread dough:

A very detailed and highly scientific infographic explaining the intricacies of the relationship of yeast, CO2, and sugar... :)

A very detailed and highly scientific infographic explaining the intricacies of the relationship of yeast, CO2, and sugar... :)

  1. Bread dough has starch in it. When yeast is introduced to bread dough, these starches convert into sugars by amylase enzymes (enzymes that convert starch and glycogen into simple sugars).
  2. Yeast activating in dough is basically a process of fermentation, with the second step being that yeast consumes the sugars in the bread dough that used to be starches not long ago.
  3. Once consumed, the yeast ferments the sugar, which results in an release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and alcohol.  
  4. The released CO2 has nowhere to go, as it is trapped inside the bread dough. As it tries to escape, it becomes stuck in the gluten network of the dough itself.
  5. Now for the last part—yes, you guessed it—this attempt of the CO2 trying to escape is what expands the dough and causes it to rise!

During the baking of the bread, the alcohol evaporates, so there is none left over in the finished loaf. But what is left over is a beautifully baked loaf that, through the above process, and with the crucial help of yeast, has risen to perfection.

At 20 Shekels Bread we have the best tasting and healthiest bread available. Come by our location at 1877 Drew Street, Clearwater, Florida to try some for yourself!

How Sprouted Is Your Sprouted?

From sprouted breads to sprouted pretzels and pasta, people are becoming increasingly aware of not only the benefits of sprouting but also the marvelous flavor it imparts.

Since it's becoming more common, we want to give you some info about sprouted grains (in particular sprouted wheat) and what to be aware of as a consumer.

There is no regulation on the labeling of the word ‘Sprouted’.

This means that anybody can produce a product (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.) with traditional grains or flours and slap the word 'Sprouted' across the packaging. Doesn't matter if it's sprouted or not.

That's doesn't matter if it's sprouted or not. (Silence descends, mouths agape.)

Now, before you spin off and imagine the worst, that scenario is the extreme end of the sprouted spectrum.

It's rare but it does occasionally happen. It’s something you need to know but don't have to be particularly concerned about. We discover those guys pretty quickly and drop the hammer on them.

Where it gets loosey-goosey and what we want to bring to your attention is the percentage of sprouted grain or flour in the product you're purchasing.

Percentages, the down and dirty.

Alright, so because there is no regulation, a company can make a bread using a combination of grains and/or flours (some sprouted, some not) and label it 'Sprouted'.

These mixed grain and flour breads are extremely common. In fact, the bulk of commercially sprouted breads are made this way.

A company could use 25% sprouted wheat flour and 75% non-sprouted wheat flour and call their bread a 'Sprouted' wheat bread.

Or they could use 100% non-sprouted wheat flour, toss in some sprouted wheat berries (wheat that hasn’t been ground into flour) and label the bread as 'Sprouted'.

Now, there is nothing wrong with making breads like that. We call them hybrids. (Actually, we call them hybreads...because, you can't just let an opportunity like that pass you by.)

But let’s be perfectly honest. If the label on a loaf of bread says sprouted wheat bread, sprouted grain bread or even just sprouted, odds are you’re going to assume the whole thing is sprouted.

Unless you're a baker or the odd man out, it would never even occur to you that the sprouted bread you're buying is 25/75, 50/50 or 10/90.

It's bread, man, not engine oil. Right?

Sorry Gang, it doesn't work that way.

So how do you know?

1. You gotta read the ingredients.

Specifically, the ingredients before water is listed. Those are the ingredients which make up the bulk of your bread. Let's take a look at a few examples:


Trader Joe's - Sprouted Multi-Grain

Organic high protein sprouted wheat berries, organic grain mixture (consisting of millet, rye flakes, corn meal, rolled oats, cracked wheat, flax seeds, sunflower seeds), filtered water, wheat gluten, pure honey, unsulphured molasses, sea salt, fresh yeast, soy lecithin, cultured wheat.

With TJ's you'll see that the bulk of the bread is made with sprouted wheat berries and a non-sprouted grain mixture of millet, rye flakes, corn meal, rolled oats, cracked wheat, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.

Cracked wheat and rye flake are wheat and rye milled in a manner that doesn’t produce a powder. If it isn’t in a powder form, then you don’t call it flour. It's still wheat and rye.



Dave's Killer Bread - Sprouted Whole Grains

Organic wheat (organic sprouted whole wheat flour, organic cracked wheat), water, organic dried cane syrup (sugar), sprouted flake mix (organic sprouted barley flakes, organic sprouted oat flakes, organic sprouted rye flakes), organic wheat gluten, organic expeller pressed canola oil, organic molasses, organic oat fiber, yeast, sea salt, organic cultured whole wheat, organic vinegar.

With Dave’s, you’ll see that the first two ingredients are sprouted wheat flour and cracked wheat.

So, this bread is not 100% sprouted wheat but rather a combination of sprouted and non-sprouted wheat. This is no knock to Dave's. It's a very good product. It's just not 100% sprouted wheat.



Alvarado Street - Sprouted Whole Wheat

Sprouted Organic Whole Wheat Berries, Filtered Water, Organic Dates, Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt, Organic Raisins, Fresh Yeast, Soy Based Lecithin, Cultured Wheat.

You'll see here that Alvarado Street makes their bread using sprouted wheat berries.

They actually sprout the berries and then grind them into a wet dough which forms the base of the bread.

This is 100% percent organic sprouted wheat bread which they have been doing since the late 70's. They don't get nearly the accolades they deserve.

We thank and tip our hats to you, Alvarado Street.

Pepperidge Farm - Harvest Blends Sprouted Grain

Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Gluten, Oats, Wheat, Brown Sugar (Sugar, Invert Sugar, Molasses), Soybean Oil, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Molasses, Wheat Berries, Salt, Yeast, Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid to Retard Spoilage, DATEM, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Whey (Milk), Sesame Seeds.

Without getting into the ingredients used in this bread which are horrible for you (we'll address that subject at a later date) the first two ingredients found are sprouted wheat and whole wheat.

So, this bread is not 100% sprouted wheat but rather a combination of sprouted and non-sprouted wheat.

If you've been purchasing and eating this bread under the assumption that it's good for you, please stop. It's not organic and laden with processed ingredients and chemicals.


20 Shekels - The Chocolate Blackberry

Organic Sprouted Wheat Flour, Water, Honey, Organic Dark Chocolate, Blackberries, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Yeast.

100% organic sprouted wheat flour. Off the chart good.


2. Talk to the baker.

Ask every question under the sun.

Yep, get all up in their faces and bust their chops. A good baker will happily tell you the ingredients and percentages used in their breads.

We're rather passionate and proud of what we do. We love sharing it.

Go ahead, ask Marni sometime. Be prepared to kill 20 or 30 minutes. She'll go on forever about sprouted wheat and sprouted bread if you let her. If you time it properly, she'll even put you to work rolling out pretzels while the two of you discuss.

You've been warned.

3. Price is a very good indicator of percentage. Use it for comparison.

If you're a buyer of organic, then you know that organic is more expensive than non-organic foods.

You've probably noticed that organic prices have begun to close the gap over the last few years. There are actually quite a lot of organic products that you can now get at very good prices.

More and more production of organic foods will keep those prices coming down. It just takes time. Will it ever be as cheap as pesticide riddled, mass produced GMO products? Probably not.

But then again if your corn costs the same, pound for pound, as Sheetrock...well, chances are the nutritional value of the corn isn't that far off from the nutritional value of Sheetrock.

(There's a thought that's going to fester. One day we'll do a lab analysis of both and report our findings.)

The same is true of sprouted flour. High quality, organic wheat flour tends to run about $1.00 per lb. High quality, organic sprouted wheat flour runs about $4.50 per lb.

Big difference.

Breads that have higher percentages of sprouted wheat flour will cost more than ones which have lower percentages.

Commercial producers will always be cheaper than small artisan outfits such as ourselves. They buy in volumes that would blow your mind.

We buy 50 lb. sacks of flour on pallets. They buy silos.

There's no bagging of flour when you own a silo. It gets dumped into massive trucks that bring it to massive storage facilities of the bread manufacturer.

When you buy a silo...Holy Moly!...super big discounts. We considered it. Turned out our 9000 sq. ft. building didn't have enough room to hold it all. Also, we only leased 850 sq. ft.

So make sure you compare the small guys to the small guys and the big guys to the big guys.

4. Run it by us. If we don't already know the answer, we'll find out.

Seriously. If you want to know about a sprouted product and are unable to determine it's value, ask us. We don't care if it's some other baker or manufacturer's sprouted product.

Maybe you prefer the taste of Bobo's sprouted bread over ours. There's nothing wrong with that. Tastes vary. We're not so arrogant to think that everyone must or will like our bread.

There are billions of people to feed. We need more sprouted bakers not less. Plus we'd love to meet Bobo.

Alright, so there you have it. It was a lot, we know. But anything less would have been a disservice.

The above 'tips' should help you in determining the level of quality of the sprouted breads and products you are purchasing.

Now, the question simply becomes: Do you want regular, premium or high octane fuel for your body?

Incidentally, if you had any question about it, 20 Shekels = High Octane.

Whoa! ~ Myths Dispelled

Lou, Managing Member, 20 Shekels, LLC

Lou, Managing Member, 20 Shekels, LLC

Lulu (AKA Lou) had an uncanny ability to express her feelings about certain things.

Here you can see, even at 4 weeks, her dismay at being photographed.

An accurate and seemingly innate reaction since we all know that cameras steal one's soul.

Nevertheless, we use this picture as it's a marvelous representation of the look on our faces when we read things that, while 'technically accurate', are misleading to those not in the know.

We thought we'd take a moment to dispel two of them:



You may have seen some breads with the word 'Flourless' splayed across the packaging.

This is technically accurate but misleading as it can make the consumer believe that wheat isn't used in the creation of the product or that because it has no flour, it's a gluten-free product.

That actually couldn't be further from the truth.

For a grain to be labelled as flour, it must be a powder which is obtained by grinding the grain.

If a grain is smashed, mashed, hashed or dashed (any manner of getting it to breakdown other than being ground) it doesn't have to be labelled as flour.

So be sure to check the ingredients of the product you're purchasing. If avoiding a particular grain (wheat, rye, spelt, barley, etc.) be aware that the ingredient and all its qualities and characteristics (such as gluten) still exist even though it may be labelled as flourless.


You may have seen some wheat breads or other wheat products with a 'GMO Free' label on the packaging.

This is technically accurate but misleading as it can make the consumer believe that he's getting a wheat product that is healthier for him or possibly organic.

Sorry, no.

Wheat is not a GMO (genetically modified organism).

GMO foods have their DNA manipulated in a process called genetic engineering. GMO foods are referred to as either 'GMO' or 'genetically engineered'. Same thing, whichever terminology you want to use.

GMO wheat is not for sale or approved for commercial production in North America. Nor anywhere else in the world for that matter.

Wheat is grown through either a cross-breeding method called hybridization or naturally in the wild.

Hybridization is when you take two or more organisms (different breeds but same species) and graft them together to produce a new breed with new characteristics.

Tangelos are a hybrid of tangerine and pomelo, for example. This also occurs naturally in the wild through cross-pollination.

So what do you look for if you want a truly healthy, pesticide and GMO free product? (You know, actual food that nourishes and sustains a body.)

ORGANIC is your keyword. Specifically, you want the labeling to say one of these three things: Certified Organic, 100% Organic or USDA Organic.

Organic products must be GMO free by definition and if the label says one of those three, you're good to go.

Alright, so that's the skinny on that. We hope it helps clear up any confusion you may have had regarding some store bought items.

In case you were wondering, pretty much nothing in our bakery is flourless. We like flour. In fact, we like sprouted flour even better.

Flour makes a far, far superior bread than a bread made with say, a wheat mash or hash. Wheat mash tends to make bread that tastes like crackers and cardboard. And...well...that ain't our thang.

Plus, we're super big fans of using Certified Organic, 100% Organic and USDA Organic ingredients.


Why's The Bread So Awesome?

It’s the sprouting.

You see, unsprouted whole grains used in traditional flours are dried seeds, and like other vegetable seeds, the nutrients lay dormant until they are sprouted or germinated into plants called vegetables.

Sprouting a grain actually changes its composition from a starch to a vegetable. When whole grains are sprouted, they are converted into a more nutritious and digestible food.  As the grain sprouts, it turns into a plant and the body recognizes it as a vegetable.

Vegetables are the easiest-to-digest foods because they are broken down by vegetable enzymes not pancreatic enzymes which are less abundant in most people’s digestive systems.

Studies show that refined white flour is devoid of many nutrients and fiber necessary for a healthy diet. Today, emerging science is illustrating the benefits of whole grains in combating heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Quite possibly, sprouted whole grains may play a part in prevention of these serious diseases.

Here are just a few of the health benefits:

  • Sprouted wheat is nutrient dense and has more dietary fiber than processed wheat. Sprouting wheat berries encourages them to make enzymes that break down starches, fats and proteins making it easier to digest the grain. Sprouting tends to break down many of the substances, such as gluten, that may cause allergies in some people.

  • Sprouted wheat, as well as other sprouted grains, have a significantly higher level of vitamins, proteins and enzymes.  Sprouting converts the starches found in grain into simple sugars that the body uses for energy versus starches that can be stored as fat.

  • Sprouting increases antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and carotene.

  • Because sprouted wheat has a low glycemic index (GI) it is digested at a slower rate, enabling a person’s blood sugar level to be stable for a longer time and increasing fullness. This is useful in the management of type 2 diabetes and weight regulation.

  • Sprouted wheat has more dietary fiber than processed grains and ignites the amylase activity, or beneficial organisms such as lactobacilli that aid in digestion; sprouted grain flour is a natural laxative.

  • Sprouted wheat is high in manganese, selenium and magnesium. It is low in cholesterol, fat and sodium. This may improve bowel health and may also help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • Sprouting enhances the hydrolysis of phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor. This assists in making nutrients more available and helps increase the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc during digestion.

Although there are great benefits to sprouted grains, these benefits can only be assured if the proper tests are conducted on the product. That’s why we only use organic sprouted flour produced by Essential Eating Sprouted Foods.

Essential Eating Sprouted Foods is the only sprouted flour producer to independently test for antioxidant activity to assure the health and digestive claims attached to sprouted flours are intact and that the baking characteristics are not destroyed.

They have spent over a decade of research and discovery to develop an organic process resulting in sprouted flour that can make these benefit claims.

As more and more people sing the praises of sprouted flours, many flour producers are rushing to claim their flour to be sprouted and attaching the associated benefits when it has been proven these products are not sprouted and in some cases, not even whole grain.

Essential Eating Sprouted Flours set the standard because they are:

  • Properly produced under measured conditions in a certified organic mill that is rated Superior by the American Institute of Baking.

  • Tested to assure that spouting has been achieved but has not drown the grain or consumed the plant sugar that has been created.

  • Made from quality organic, kosher grains that are cleaned, tested, sprouted, systematically rinsed, milled and sifted in accordance with food safety guidelines to assure the finest sprouted flours available.

  • Milled in a way as not to destroy the enzymes, keeping the baking characteristics intact.

How does sprouted flour taste compared to traditional flour?

Better than any flour you’ve ever tasted.  Sprouted flour is more delicious than regular flour because it has not been bleached, refined or over processed.  Sprouting removes the bitter taste found in unsprouted whole grain flour.

But don’t take our word for it. Try it for yourself and experience the difference.

What Is Ezekiel Bread?

Simply, it’s a bread made from a recipe found in the Bible.

Given to the prophet Ezekiel in the 6th century B.C., the bread was to be made using wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt. With the exception of water it was to be his only sustenance for 390 days.

This piqued our interest. How could one survive eating nothing but this bread for over a year?

Well, we did a little research and found that the combination of these beans and grains actually give you the nine essential amino acids necessary for your body. There’s even a technical term for it: protein complementation.

Pinto, Northern and Kidney Beans, all part of our Ezekiel Bread. 

Pinto, Northern and Kidney Beans, all part of our Ezekiel Bread. 

You see, by themselves, vegetables and grains are incomplete proteins because they have what’s called limiting amino acids.

Combining two or more vegetable proteins such as beans and grains, legumes and grains or vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds one can get these needed amino acids.

So as it turns out, Ezekiel bread is the perfect little nutritional package; a meal in itself.

With the recognition that the world’s healthiest bread had already been invented, our efforts were directed toward “fine-tuning” the flavor.

Now, after roughly 250 variations, we’re proud to offer 20 Shekels Ezekiel Bread.

It's basically awesomeness in a loaf of bread.