Trying an Ancient Wheat
Over the last 10 years, I’ve done a lot of reading and learning about food. I’ve been a “raw-foody,” a vegan (briefly, but I felt better than I had in decades doing this … I just couldn’t keep it up with a young homeschooling family to care for who did NOT want anything to do with my food schemes!), a junk-food junkie, a fast-food junkie, a … well, you get the picture. I recently came across a doctor who was interviewed on TV about his book titled, “Wheat Belly.” Fascinating! I love breads … comfort foods. I mostly buy organic, or grind my own organic wheat into flour to make my own bread. I love doing this! Even so, for the last few months, something in my system has felt “off.” I’m not getting any younger, and I know I need to be more careful with my health each passing year. My love of breads and pastas has caught up with me! Personally, I’m not interested in the “Paleo Diet,” nor do I ever want to go “vegan” again, for a number of reasons. I think God gave us all these good foods to eat … even Jesus ate them, so I have to believe they’re OK for me, too! So how to reconcile that?
As I listened to the “Wheat Belly” doctor’s interview, he talked about the problems that can occur with our modern wheat, which no longer resembles the original stuff. It was fascinating to me. I know that not everyone has a problem … but I think I’m developing one, and I want to stop it in its tracks. So I did a search for ancient wheat, and I found this stuff:
It’s called “Einkorn” wheat. It is the only remaining wheat that has never been hybridized, making it the genetically purest wheat available today. Jovial provides the einkorn wheat that I bought … I purchased mine here.
Since I’m trying to get to a place where I only eat foods in their original state (that’s a looooong, tall order, by the way, one that is going to still take time if the good Lord allows me more of it!), I thought I would give this new … I mean, this old wheat a try! Einkorn wheat has been on the earth for many thousands of years! (Learn more about it at the Jovial website, here.)
Their recipe looked simple enough … grind a pound of einkorn berries into flour, mix with water, yeast, honey and sea salt. Stir together with a spatula … no kneading … let rise, pour into oiled bread ban, smooth dough with a wet spatula, let rise, then bake. Bryan helped me with it so I could photograph.
The einkorn berries are different from modern wheat berries … they are lighter, “fluffier,” not so hard. They are slightly powdery (kind of like oats have a little powderiness to them). I forgot to photograph them in bulk, but here are the last few being pulled into the grinder:
Looks just like wheat flour 🙂 but it smells different … less pronounced, milder somehow.
While we were grinding our berries, I had the yeast, water and honey mixture “proofing” on the counter. My friend, Helen, surprised me a few weeks ago with a jar of her home-farmed honey … now that’s a sweet gift! I used this honey to feed the yeast in this recipe.
Bryan poured the yeast mixture into the flour and sea salt blend:
Then came the very simple, gentle stirring with a spatula (I used the stiff, plastic one that came with my food processor). No kneading!
The dough is sticky, but still pretty easy to work. It took Bryan about 1 minute to incorporate the flour and liquid together into the dough. We covered the bowl with a towel, and left it out on the countertop to rise for 30 minutes, after which it didn’t look like it had done much rising. My yeast is a little old, though it did proof, so I figured I would give it an extra 10 minutes with the benefit of a barely warm oven and making the cover towel damp. That did the trick, and after another 10 minutes (so 20 in the oven, total), it had risen nicely, though I don’t think it quite doubled.
Lots of good “gluten windows” (air holes)!
Next, we plopped it into the greased bread pan (I used butter, plus a little organic coconut oil spray on top of it), and used a wet spatula to smooth out the top. The dough is still very sticky:
Another 30 minutes rise … this time I went straight to the barely warm oven, and covered it with the damp towel! It rose really well, all the way up to the towel! I had to peel the towel off, and it left a messy top:
I scraped a bunch of dough off of the towel, and decided to put it on the bread for fun:
Into a 375-degree oven for 35 minutes, and it was done!
Baking bread with a buttered pan makes for a brown crust…yum!
Now, if you thought that I was going to let that bread just sit there and cool completely off, you were totally WRONG! I wanted to see and taste the end result of this new adventure! I let it cool halfway, and then …
How to describe this delicious bread? It is lighter than the bread I make with modern wheat, more “air-y.” It is much moister, too. The wet, sticky dough hints at that, I suppose! And the flavor … hmmm … overall, it tastes like wheat bread, but with a definite difference. The weight of Einkorn bread is lighter, the texture is air-y-er, and the wheat flavor is lighter, too … more delicate. I’ve been thinking of an analogy that would work, and I’ve come up with nut butters. If you know what peanut butter tastes like, and then you try, say, almond butter … they’re similar, but almond butter is less nutty, it’s a more delicate flavor compared with peanut butter. It’s kind of like that with Einkorn wheat bread vs. modern wheat bread.
the easiest loaf of bread I’ve ever made!!!
Next we’ll see what kind of pastry flour Einkorn is. There’s no “hard” or “soft” Einkorn … it’s all just real, God-created wheat. I wonder if this is the wheat that Jesus and the ancients ate?
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah 6:16 NASB)
Good food for thought! I’m a fan of this ancient grain, Einkorn wheat! I hope you can try it sometime, too, and let me know how you like it!