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Milling and Baking with Heritage and Ancient Grains: Bread and Beyond


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I wanted to feature the dried cacao fruit I discovered this week at Whole Foods, little thin squares that seem like fruit leather, from 'Blue Stripes Urban Cacao', in 4 oz packages (the recipe uses one whole package).  I've been curious about cacao pulp since as soon as I realized that the pulp was the original attraction of cacao for the indigenous people who discovered it, but since the pulp is key to traditional fermentation of the beans, I figured I'd have to go to a cacao farm to actually taste it.


But in the last year, I've had a cacao fruit popsicle from Dick Taylor's Chocolates (only available at their factory store in Eureka), and a cacao fruit bar from them.  I also bought some "Cacao Fruit Bites" found at a health food store, but was disappointed to find that Cacao Fruit was a minority ingredient in all of them. However, not only did this 100% cacao fruit pulp product appear on the shelf, but I saw this very interesting article that suggests the pulp may be less integral to bean processing than I'd suspected--so maybe I can enjoy some cacao fruit while feeling less guilty depriving some beans of what they need to maximize their potential....and maybe separating some of the pulp for this use can actually increase income for the farmers:


<https://www.acs.org/pressroom/presspacs/2022/acs-presspac-april-27-2022/new-coc oa-processing-method-produces-fruitier-more-flowery-dark-chocolate.html>


I built these comparing several different recipes, including Chewy Chocolate Cookies from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book and some of my own previous versions trying to create a fudgy brownie-like cookie without making something too close to a flourless chocolate cake or even truffle.  I  also made them without gluten so I can share them with a colleague who is gluten-sensitive, and because teff is so very good in chocolates.  The chia is to help them hold together with the gluten-free flours, and can be omitted if using a wheat flour with gluten.


Mincing the cacao fruit is difficult because it is so sticky, so I use my favorite technique of letting the food processor do the work by adding the dried fruit with a portion of the flour, so the fruit bits get immediately flour coated as they are chopped, and you can get it quite fine that way.


Five by Five Chocolate Cookies


3/4 cup / 170 grams unsalted butter (if what you have is salted, see adjustment below)

3/4 cup / 150 grams sugar


3 1/2 ounces / 100 grams unsweetened chocolate


3 large eggs


3 tablespoons / 45 grams water

OR 1/4 cup buttermilk


[1 teaspoon vanilla if not using vanilla bean]


Milled together 225 grams teff 2 inches vanilla bean [OR use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, added with the eggs and buttermilk or water]


Alternatives for the fresh milled flour 1 1/2 cups / 225 grams teff flour

   1 1/2 cups / 225 grams whole wheat pastry flour or soft wheat flour or all purpose flour


2 tablespoons / 12 grams buttermilk powder [omit if using buttermilk]

1/2 cup / 75 grams cocoa

10 grams ground chia seeds [omit if using wheat flour]

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt [omit if using salted butter]


4 ounces / 113 grams dried cacao fruit, minced


1/2 cup / 2 ounces or 60 grams cacao nibs

2 ounces / 56 grams finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used one bar of Dick Taylor's 70% Sambirano; 70% Scharffenberger is also delicious here)


Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together (I do it in the microwave on lower power to avoid scorching the chocolate, stirring often).  Transfer to mixing bowl, and beat together with the sugar.


Beat in the eggs, water or buttermilk, and vanilla if using.


Take half of the flour and whirl in food processor with the dried cacao fruit until the fruit is very finely minced.  This stuff is STICKY and the food processor struggles a bit to manage it; I have to stop and pick the gummy coating off the blade a few times to get it done.  You can also chop it with a knife but it is hard work and the knife will need a lot of clearing too.


Sift or whisk the flours, chia [if using gluten-free flours], salt, baking powder, buttermilk powder [if using] together, and add to the mixing bowl together with the the flour/cacao fruit, cacao nibs, and chopped chocolate.  Stir together until well mixed, and let sit for several hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator to hydrate the flours.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F / 163 degrees C.


Roll teaspoonsful of dough into small balls, flatten them a little, place them fairly close together on lightly greased or parchment or silpat lined baking sheets (they won't spread much).   Bake 325 degrees for 12 minutes, until they are dry and a little firm on the outside but soft without being gooey on the inside.


They're also flexible enough for refrigerator cookies, which take less work but a little longer for chilling.  This is how I made them the second time, and I think it worked better:  let sit for several hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator, to hydrate the flour and let the dough firm up enough to be shaped into rolls.  Take about 1/3 of the dough and form into a roll, about 2 inches in diameter, and wrap in waxed paper or parchment or plastic wrap, and chill until quite firm for neat slicing (about 2 hours in freezer, overnight in refrigerator).


When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F / 163° C.


Slice the rolls 1/4 inch thick and place on prepared baking sheets (lightly greased, or lined with parchment or silpat).  Bake 325°F for about 12 minutes, until they are a little dry and firm on the outside, should still be a little soft but not gooey inside.


Also posted to my website.


EDITED to update recipe:  I found these work really well as icebox cookies, and decided to use a little less flour so they'd be less 'doughy'.  I also shifted from 50:50 teff:oat to 100% teff.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
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  • 1 year later...

I posted a query in the sourdough starter topic about the experiments in baking bread using cultures recovered from ancient Egyptian pottery and looking for actual recipes that use ancient and heritage grains that would have been available as staples in Egypt at that time--einkorn, emmer, barley. 


Has anyone here got such a recipe or seen one?

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Not a bread, but a cookie from Roxana Jullipat of Friends and Family bakery from her book Mother Grain's is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that invites playing around with different grains including barley & einkorn then talks about how that changes the final result. Not exactly what you were looking for I know but I thought it was interesting. Recipe here.

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  • 2 weeks later...

That's a good tip, and a useful book.  I found the book useful for tips, but a little frustrating for lots of recipes using the heritage grains as additions to white flours instead of 100% whole grains.  But after my first attempt using 50:50 barley:einkorn flour, a ratio that I plucked from thin air, which came out very heavy and gummy despite baking to an internal temperature of 210°C in the romertopf, what I was doing was clearly not the best approach.  The crust was delicious, and if it is cut thin and heavily toasted, it's definitely edible.


I'll keep playing with this sourdough--the starter seems nice and zippy--but with different flour blends.  And my next attempt will be flatbreads because they are so much more forgiving than loaves meant to be loftier!

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  • 1 month later...

forgot to mention, I've been to Friends and Family--it's not far from me, and a pleasant place to wait for my car to be serviced nearby.  The baked items are delicious, and feel a lot more....substantial....than those at conventional bakeries.  But I have to be careful when I say substantial, because it's more about flavor and mouthfeel of the whole grain contribution, and not about *density*.  They are not heavy at all.  But they do feel like I'm eating something more than a bit of floury sugary fluff. 

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On 3/10/2024 at 6:38 PM, AAQuesada said:

Not a bread, but a cookie from Roxana Jullipat of Friends and Family bakery from her book Mother Grain's is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that invites playing around with different grains including barley & einkorn then talks about how that changes the final result. Not exactly what you were looking for I know but I thought it was interesting. Recipe here.


That's the recipe that inspired Nancy Silverton to tweak it in The Cookie that Changed My Life

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