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Wholemeal Crank

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  1. And back to baking:  I had more adventures with Kernza perennial wheat 2 weeks ago:   I made some yeasted rolls, unyeasted flatbreads, and sugar cookies.  


    For the breads, I wanted to use 100% Kernza flour to see what it could do, and I made very plain doughs.  Because it looks so much like durum, and all the notes I found on it suggest it's gluten is high in concentration but more like durum in being too tough for the usual yeasted bread, and thought it might do well in something more like chapati, which are made with a durum flour.   I used about Kernza, milled fine, a teaspoon of salt, and water to make a soft dough;




    let it rest overnight; and rolled out small balls of dough very thin and baked on silpat-lined trays. 




    The dough kept that Kernza scent and flavor, and the flatbreads are quite tasty whether dipped in hummus, or in honey-butter, as here.






    I made the yeasted dough very wet and soft, more like a stiff batter,




    and prepared little rolls in a muffin tray. 




    These were made with a bit of old sourdough starter and some instant yeast, and again, the kernza scent and flavor comes through quite pleasingly along with a fine hearty taste.  When warmed up, they've got a very pleasant texture




    with plenty of air to absorb soup, bean broth, or as here, more honey-butter.




    I started with

    250 grams Kernza
    3 tablespoons sourdough started that had been refrgerated and not recently refreshed
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4-1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
    and water (I didn't keep track of the exact quantity, there were spills involved, but it was probably close to 100% hydration).

    I mixed the dough in the Cusinart, let it rise for several hours, refrigerated it overnight because it was getting too late to bake, let it warm up the next day, punched it down a bit, and then dropped balls of the batter into the ungreased muffin trays.   I let it rise an hour or two, and baked about 20 minutes at 350 in my convection oven.  


    I also prepared a very soft plain butter cookie, in which I cut the Kernza with some rice to give a more delicate and crunchy crumb.  I made the dough into icebox cookies--shaping the very soft dough into rolls was not easy!--and sliced and baked.



    I milled together
      225 grams kernza
       75 grams short brown rice

    strained/whisked in
    1/2 teaspoon soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup buttermilk powder
    1/2 cup brown sugar

    beat in until loose crumbles
    3/8 cup (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

    and then beat in about
    1 cup water

    Shaped into logs, chilled, sliced thin, baked.


    I shared some of these cookies at work and they were popular. 

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  2. Digression for cooked whole Kernza:


    Had a breakfast of Kernza perennial wheat cooked as....not quite porridge, but cooked for breakfast. It was a trial to see how it is best managed, and there was so much adjustment that my notes are no longer as precise as I'd like them to be.  For example, I was planning to weigh the water used before and after cooking it with an excess of water just to keep track of how much water was absorbed, but I not only forgot to measure it at the beginning, I ate some of the grain at early on and decided it was not done enough and returned the rest to the pot to keep going.  So....I can tell you what I did, but I would not follow this as guidance on porridge or pilaf prep!


    But:  my nose was filled with the lovely sweet fragrance, although eating it plain without even a dollop of honey, cream, or fruit meant that scent was not backed up with much sweet taste. It is nutty, fragrant, and it cooked up rather unevenly as I did this batch.  I'm not sure how much of the unevenness is because it is not very genetically standardized yet, or my cooking.  Still, it seems like it will be just lovely in soups and pilafs when I have figured it out better than this.


    What I did:

    Because I did not know how much water it might need, I did not try rice cooker or pressure cooker.  

    I started with 50 grams of Kernza.  I heated a small saucepan, added a teaspoon of butter, let it melt, and added the Kernza.  I stirred it until there was a lot of popping sound (and indeed, a few kernels flew out when they popped), and it smelled toasty.  

    Then I added 400-500 mL of water and brought it to a boil.  I cut the heat to a gentle simmer and turned off after 5 minutes, let sit 5 minutes, and tested.  The tested kernels were soft so I drained it (saved the water, fortunately), and started in but it was overall still quite chewy.  


    I put it back on, back to boil, to low heat, simmered 10 more minutes, and noted a lot of kernels had opened up; I let sit 5 minutes and tested again.  It was quite edible but about half were still quite small/narrow and a bit too crunchy.  This time, at least, I had not drained it all.


    10 more minutes to simmer, and then I turned off the heat and let it sit on the stove overnight.


    This morning I drained it, warmed in the microwave, and ate it.  Obviously not the optimum prep, but it's a start.

    I think this represented the drained after 5 minutes' simmer version:


    210912 halfway there Kernza - 2


    And this was as I ate it utterly plain this morning:


    210912 Kernza as Porridge.jpg



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  3. I milled and baked with Kernza perennial wheat for the first time last night. 


    210905 Kernza shortbreads  DEB_0670 ppd


    I was absolutely thrilled to discover the fabulous scent carries through in the milled flour and the baked product--cookies, naturally, for the first go-round.   And the flour is a remarkably rich shade of yellow, like semolina or even a bit brighter.  I was not thinking fast enough to include something in these photos to correct the white balance, but still the color difference vs some soft white wheat flour should be pretty obvious with the two flours side by side:



    210904 Kernza vs Soft white wheat flours DEB_0625 copy


    I made a simple shortbread cookie, without any seasoning or spices or seeds or nuts or fruits or anything:  just flour, butter, buttermilk, brown sugar, salt and leavening.  The cookies smell and taste like the flour did:  vanilla, almond extract, floral, and a bit of cinnamon and cloves.  


    210905 Kernza shortbreads  DEB_0647 copy


    The shortbreads came out rather dense and hard, because I wanted to stick as closely as possible to the Kernza flour alone and avoid diluting the flavor with other grains, so I did not mix in oat and rice for softness & crumbliness as I would have otherwise.  But their flavor is marvelous!


    I can't wait to try the Kernza just cooked up as breakfast porridge (will be soaking them overnight for a treat tomorrow morning); and as some kind of flatbread that won't depend so much on having the usual bread-flour type/proportion of glutens.  Because it's still quite remarkably pricey (about $10/lb), it's not yet going to replace my other staples just yet....but I am going to keep playing with it to learn about it's culinary qualities, and figure out some places to use it to best effect for sharing.....for those potlucks we're going to have again someday post-COVID.
    It gives me hope for the future of perennial grains. 

    • Like 4
  4. I am staring at almost 2 kg of Kernza branded perennial wheat


    and trying to figure out what to do with this preciou$ $tuff ($$$ but this is my kind of shopping therapy) to really figure out what it can do.  I am thrilled to try a perennial wheat crop, so much potential (carbon capture! low/no till! so many benefits!), although these little tiny kernels do make me a bit wary.  It's so small, and clearly has a much smaller surface to volume ratio than durum, spelt, emmer, einkorn, hard red or soft white wheats.  


    Here's the Kernza, including one cut in half for a view of the endosperm:




    And here is durum wheat, not to same scale:




    Hard Red Fife Wheat, ditto




    And plump soft white wheat, ditto




    I went a bit crazy today and shot all the grains I had in the pantry at present...usually there's millet too but must have run out.  I made a flickr album with very up-close macros of all of them.




    It's baking qualities will likely be quite distinctive:



    Thinopyrum intermedium, known as intermediate wheatgrass (IWG), is one of several perennial crops available for potential food use. The overall objective of this work was to investigate the chemical, functional, and baking properties of wholegrain flour obtained from the grains of 16 IWG breeding lines. Compared to wholegrain wheat flours, IWG wholegrain flours had higher protein, dietary fiber, and ash, yet were lower in starch content and deficient in high molecular weight glutenins. The ratios of amylose to amylopectin among the wholegrain flours of IWG and wheat were similar, but IWG flours exhibited lower viscosity during heating and cooling. Dough from IWG flour had lower stability, resistance to extension and extensibility compared to dough from wheat flour. While bread from IWG flour had similar specific volume to one of the wheat flours, it had lower rising capability due to weaker gluten network forming ability. Although IWG flour might not be ideal for bread products that require rising properties, results indicated that it could be suitable for other applications.



    And this Civil Eats article describes some things to watch out for, but it's hard to know if the wheat I've got is the same as was being discussed in 2015:




    Zachary Golper, baker and owner of the bakery Bien Cuit in Brooklyn, made test batches of bread with 40 pounds of whole grain Kernza flour. While the protein content is higher–20g as opposed to 16g–its ratio of gliadin and gluten is very far off from wheat, making it difficult to apply standard recipes....Golper first made a plain hockey puck out of 100 percent Kernza. Then he let it ferment for over 24 hours in a warm environment, where it became extremely bitter. So Golper tried a basic method for low acidity, and started to get interesting results. “I could taste the grain in a way that I’m not sure anyone has. It speaks of an old grass flavor. But I found that there was this thing–sort of a metallic taste–I couldn’t eliminate.”


    ....Beyond bread, Kernza is also appearing in whiskey. Ventura Spirits, a California-based spirit company known for using unique ingredients has picked up the grain for it’s dual value: taste and environmental impact. Henry Tarmy, one of the partners at Ventura Spirits, says the grain has a surprising bouquet–floral, light, and almost fruity–even straight off the still. “We started experimenting with it because it’s exciting to be part of a work in progress and in some small way we can help usher in commercial viability. But then we found out, well shit, this stuff is really delicious,” Tarmy says.




    Metallic taste would be unpleasant, but I've been playing a lot with gluten-free baking because of a friend's Celiac diagnosis, so this is not necessarily a major problem for cookies, cakes, pancakes, muffins, scones, crackers, and flatbreads, because flax and chia do wonders to stick stuff together....and certainly not an issue for soups.  And this stuff has such an intoxicating sweet and spicy scent when I opened the package that I could hardly believe it until I had decanted the packages into a glass jar and left them overnight--and the scent is still there.  


    I don't have 40 lbs to play with, but I've got mills and lots of practice mixing and matching grains to recipes.  I'm thinking first a plain crisp flatbread or cracker (flour/water/bit of butter or oil/salt/ammonium carbonate (to keep them from being like rocks)); a simple cookie or scone without a lot of fruit, nuts, spices; something like zuppa di farro to enjoy it cooked whole.....and making each of these in small quantities, in parallel with 1-2 other wheats to compare.  


    *Version of Record: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521018303771 Manuscript_d9bd1455f820fb61bf71577f53554980
    Chemical characterization, functionality, and baking quality of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium)
    1121 Citra P. Rahardjo , Chathurada S. Gajadeera , Senay Simsek , George Annor ,
    1 1,3,* 1,* Tonya Schoenfuss , Alessandra Marti , Baraem P. Ismail
    Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
    *A. Marti: Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via G. Celoria 2, 20133 Milan, Italy; email: alessandra.marti@unimi.it
    *B. P. Ismail: Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, 1334 Eckles Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108, U.S.A; email: bismailm@umn.edu
    Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, U.S.A
    Department of Plant Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, U.S.A
    Keywords: perennial crop; Thinopyrum intermedium; chemical and functional characterization; baking quality
    © 2018 published by Elsevier. This manuscript is made available under the Elsevier user license

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  5. 31 minutes ago, heidih said:

    The big ones ARE heavy so on-line with free shipping ;)  For actual pounding and grinding, pastes I like my big Thai granite one. I got it at Home Goods or TJ Max years ago. So cheap my sister got one and schlepped it back to Sydney. I may have had a touristy Mexican one ex brought back from Cabo - but I did all the seasoning prep tricks and it still had residue. 

    Free shipping sounds good.....but it also feels wrong because I'm here in LA, land of abundant goods from Mexico. 


    The Thai ones look easier to tip over than the big tripod molcajetes--but maybe that doesn't really matter?  I've had lousy experience with my attempts at mortar and pestle but they were small and I was trying to use them for spices so maybe it was always doomed to fail. 


    And by residue--you mean still stony grit?

  6. I searched and found at least one of those topics but the comments about smooth vs rough and size were scattered through a more diffuse topic. I was still left with these key questions. I believe he will be using it for sauces, including salsas and guacamole, but not only those. I'm not 100% sure on what he is most into because I haven't shared kitchen time with him in ages, since I was the cook and he the small helper (sigh).

  7. My nephew is becoming a serious cook and he’d like a molcajete.  I’m seeing lots of conflicting advice about smooth granite (less grit) vs rough volcanic rock (tiny glass edges to air pockets increase speed and efficiency of grinding).  And is this something where the bigger, the better, because small quantities can be easily worked in a large version but not the other way round?

    He lives quite a distance away so shipping is s consideration.

  8. Someone has posted in another forum about getting enough for one small session of tea from one tea bush after growing it for several years, or a few sessions from a single row of plants in their California back yard. 

    I've never tried it, but one of these days I probably will, just because I like odd stuff in the garden.

  9. Inspired by discussion in another forum, I found Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe for lebkuchen on ckbk.com (from Bread), which is quite similar but richer than the version linked above from Wild Fermentation.  I used Hamelman's as my starting point, and decreased the quantity because it was an experiment, used fresh-milled whole rye flour because that's how I roll, and it was quite an interesting process.  


    I mixed honey and flour without heating the honey first, and put the quite firm dough into a half-gallon mason jar (I would not do that again because it was quite hard to get it back out!), put on a lid but left it a bit loose.  And then I put it on a bottom shelf of the kitchen, and put a reminder on my calendar to check it out in 3 months.  It did not visibly change in that time.


    Then I prepped everything else to be mixed into the dough.  I chopped dried pears (I prefer dried fruit to citron in confections) and candied ginger (TJ's 'uncrystallized ginger' is softer and less sugary than more easily available harder versions with thicker coatings of sugar) in the food processor with some unbleached all-purpose flour to keep the pieces separate.  Unfortunately the pears were softer than usual and I was wary of adding too much flour so they were more pasty separate/fluffy bits.  


    I dissolved the ammonium carbonate and the baking soda in cream instead of milk because I had some extra cream.   


    And I added extra cream and water because the long-aged/fermented dough was just too hard to mix; my fresh whole grain flours need more water than the usual refined flours and I expected this.  I should have broken the hard dough up smaller first, and I added the spices, liquid and dried ingredients all together so again, the dried fruit and ginger got pulverized by the long mixing needed to really break up the aged/fermented dough.


    Finally, I overbaked the result, so there is a relatively hard crust on the outside.  


    But despite all that, they're pretty good, and while I usually find cookies made without butter and/or nuts sadly lacking, these have a fine depth of flavor that must come from the long aging.  I also expected them to be very sweet--equal weights of honey and flour, oh my--but they feel well balanced.  I'm now very curious to know if there is some enzymatic or microbial activity that breaks down some of the fructose so it isn't so sweet.


    Another surprise:  I was quite far along in the process before I realized that this version includes no ginger or cloves--unlike virtually every gingerbread recipe I've encountered before.  But mine got the candied ginger and maybe that's enough.  I like them enough to try again...but I'm not sure if I'll use ginger or cloves this time.  I've got several months to decide!


    Here's what I ended up doing....but as noted above, I'll do some things differently next time.  

    500 grams fresh whole rye flour
    500 grams honey

    Mixed until smooth and aged 3 months covered but not super tightly sealed in my Los Angeles kitchen with temps 60s-70s throughout.


    When preparing to bake the lebkuchen:


    100 gram TJs uncrystallized ginger
    1 tablespoon unbleached flour

    Chopped in food processor to very small individual bits


    200 grams dried pears
    1/4 cup unbleached flour

    Chopped in food processor (may need a bit more flour next time to avoid pear paste)


    about 75 grams (4 large) egg yolks


    1 teaspoon salt
    about a tablespoon of lemon zest
    1 teaspoon ammonium carbonate
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground aniseed
    1/2 nutmeg, grated (about 1 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg)
    1 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground


    1/2 cup cream
    1/4 cup water


    I scooped the dough out of the jar (bending a few spoons and spatulas in the process, maybe I can wrap the dough in a cylinder of plastic wrap and stick that inside the jar, so it still gets the protection against insects from the canning-jar lid but is easier to remove at the end for next time) and broke it up to no more than walnuts sized pieces in the bowl of my kitchenaid mixer.


    I foolishly added the chopped pears and ginger and eggs at the same time, and it was ugly lumpy solids-in-wet stuff for a very long time, mixing on low power (with one or two breaks to cool down my mixer--this was HARD work for the moter).


    I dissolved the spices and leavenings in some of the cream, and mixed that in, and kept adding a tablespoon more here and there, ran out of cream, and added water, and mixed  until the dough was more or less smooth--but still firm enough that  never left low speed.   The ammonium rendered it unpleasing to taste so I wasn't sure what I had at that point.


    I scaled the dough to as carefully as possible match Hamelman's recommendations of baking it in loaf pans to speed baking and avoid overdone crusts, and ended up doing a bunch of algebra to figure out how many grams to a muffin cup when I didn't have enough loaf pans.  I pressed the dough into the pans by hand--and was surprised afterwards to see how lumpy the bottoms were when the tops smoothed pretty nicely.


    I also messed with the baking temps because I was too lazy to remove my baking steels from the oven.  I won't be so lazy next time.  And I probably will not use the convection setting either. The thickness of the crusts on this first batch are not very pleasing.  I baked them 350 for 15 minutes and 20 more minutes at 300.  


    In spite of being less than beautiful, and some foolishness planning out the recipe, they're really quite tasty.  They're dense but chewy and fruity and spicy.  


    The recipe made enough for 2 narrow loaf pans (8.5 x 3 inches) and a dozen muffin-sized pieces (2 inches diameter standard sized cups).  It's about 1/2 inch thick.



    (cut with serrated knife one direction, and torn open the other way)



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  10. 15 hours ago, dscheidt said:


    Carefully block the spout (don't burn yourself) when it's boiling.  If it it whistles, the problem is in the spout.  If it doesn't, it's the lid. 

    Doesn't whistle, as best as I can close off the spout (using a heavy oven mitt over a soft washrag; then jammed a bit of old rag in the spout--helped maybe a tiny bit, but not enough; and steam is definitely coming from the back of the lid/pot junction.   I got a reply from the company, pursuing that now. 

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  11. The light spot blue spot is the slit on the inside of the whistle part of the lid, with the whistle passage lit by light from the outside of the lid.


    The dark spot is a bit of tarnish that looks original, like from soldering or welding that inner bit of the whistle in place.  It is not a hole.

  12. D'Oh.  Just reread.  So the whistle is the hole in the lid, and insufficient blockage by the ball valve in the spout, letting too much air out that way, would not allow the whistle to sound loud enough. So back to my original idea that the valve and/or lid seating may not be tight enough.  The lid rim and pot rim are now spotless, so no scale there to encourage leaks; the spout....hm...

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  13. The whistle is a ball-valve in the spout, so steam is supposed to exit there.  That ball does rattle as usual when I shake it suggesting it moves freely.....my first idea was scale where the ball sits so it doesn't sit as tight and the ball lets steam out at too low a pressure.  Looking again, there is also another valve in the lid itself....which would seem to permit free exit to steam, so lid fit can't need to be that tight when this hole is clearly part of the design.  

  14. My 10 year old Simplex kettle stopped whistling.  It now makes a sadly muffled croak, not the sharp piercing sound that makes it easy to hear from any room in the house.  Online searches haven't gotten me very far.  I did find an official looking use and care guide PDF that says nothing about fixing this issue, but does warn against what would have been my next step--boiling some vinegar in it:



    - Don’t use abrasive cleaners that may harm the exterior or interior finish of your kettle.

    - Don’t use wire or other abrasive de-scaling products such as lemon or vinegar, which will cause damage to the pure tin or nickel plated lining of your kettle.


    The ball in the spout rattles when I shake the empty kettle, so it's not completely stuck or jammed.  I presume it's something to do with scale or rust or something keeping it from seating tightly enough to hold the steam in until whistle pressure is reached.  


    It's always and only been used with Los Angeles city tap water.


    Suggestions for next steps?


    I've already entered a query to the company here, but am asking the smart community here because I anticipate a long time before I get a reply from them due to life in COVID times.

  15. A fabulous invention this morning:


    Rosemary-Raisin Walnut Scones

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees

    If you have a mill, mill these together:
        250 grams soft white wheat
        50 grams brown rice (makes the scones a little crunchy on the outside)
        1 teaspoon dried rosemary
        1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
        1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (optional)
         1 clove (optional)
        1 inch vanilla bean, cut into bits


    [If no mill, consider
       2 cups of all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour or blend of these, substituting up to 1/3 cup of rice flour, if you have it, for some extra crunch
       1 teaspoon ground rosemary
       1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
       1/2 teaspoon ground thyme (optional)
       itty-bitty pinch of clove (optional)
       and add 1 teaspoon vanilla with the juice, water/buttermilk, and egg below]
    1 teaspoon soda
    1 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1/4 cup buttermilk powder OR use buttermilk to complete the liquid volume below (powdered version allows more concentrated flavor despite limited liquid component of recipe)

    25 grams flaxseed, ground in a clean coffee mill/spice grinder (optional, good fiber & omega 3 and nutty flavor)


    Stir/strain/sift all the dry ingredients together until thoroughly mixed


    1 cup raisins
    zest of orange you juice for the next step
    up to 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
    3/4 cup toasted walnuts (about 12-15 minutes at 325 spread onto bare baking sheet usually does fine)


    Chop these an add to dry ingredients or easier still, put the dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor, and process the raisins, zest and rosemary until the raisins are small bits; then add the walnuts and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped


    8 tablespoons cold butter


    grate or use pastry blender to cut into small bits and mix with the dry ingredients


    1 egg
    1 lemon, juiced
    1 orange, zested and juiced
     plus water or buttermilk (if not using powder) to total 3/4 cup

    Whisk the egg, juice, and water or buttermilk together and just stir into dry ingredients until all moistened

    drop large spoonfuls on lined or greased baking sheets; wet your hands and pat into neat rounds 1/2 inch thick, and bake for 20 minutes.  I bake 2 sheets at once in my convection oven and turn front/back and top/bottom at the 10 minute mark.




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