Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ancient Baking

I finally found a source for emmer wheat(Triticum dicoccum) known as farro in Italy. It is an ancient variety of wheat with fewer chromosomes in its DNA than modern wheat. So I ordered a 4.5 pound bag of emmer wheat flour from Bluebird Grain Farms and it got here the other day. Since it is raining and cold I do what I always do and bake. I've got a batch of emmer sourdough proofing and we'll see what this ancient grain is all about. Since it is probably one of the first grains domesticated by man I thought is would be fun to try. Emmer has all but disappeared from cultivation except in Italy where they grow it mostly for cereal. In the Middle East it was supplanted by barley as the main grain since barley is more tolerant of salty soil caused by irrigation.

Since the DNA is different in emmer(28 chromosomes versus 42 for modern wheat) and it is lower in gluten(and the gluten is different) there is some information that says people with gluten issues can tolerate this flour. I don't have any problems with gluten so I am just trying it for the flavor and experience of baking with such an ancient grain. The bread I have proofing right now is only 50% emmer wheat and the rest is bread flour and it is my standard bread for everyday baking. I just substituted the emmer wheat for the whole wheat I normally use. If this makes a nice loaf at 50% I'll up the percentage 10 % and try again until the lower gluten in the emmer causes the bread to fail. By fail I mean the bread won't be able to support itself and rise. We will just have to see if this ancient flour is worth its high price since it is about 30% more expensive than other organic whole grain flours.

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