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Milling Heritage and Ancient Grains for Baking Bread and Beyond


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12 hours ago, Wholemeal Crank said:

More on how home milling is not just about bread.....

 

A Cracker Primer

 

This is how I make crackers.  I was making two different batches of crackers this day, one batch of Corny Crackers, and one batch of Four-Seed Snapper crackers from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.

I love crackers, and like homemade ones, but was frustrated with the effort to yield ratio required, and the lack of crispness if I didn't get the dough perfectly thin, or the high proportion of scorched crackers if I did roll them perfectly thin.  I've since figured out some tricks that make it a lot easier and more efficient to make a bunch of them at once.

After you've prepared the dough of your choice, let it rest and chill if required, and preheated the oven to about 400 degrees or as called for in your recipe, pat handfuls of dough into a rough rectangle and place on a baking sheet liner (teflon, silicone, heck, parchment would probably work too).  If needed, set the liner on a damp towel to keep it in place on your work surface as you roll out the dough.

 

2704657045_44a753fc61.jpg

 

Dust below and the top of the dough lightly to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.

 

2705478832_85b6d155b7.jpg

 

Roll out the dough to desired thinness (usually 1/16" to 1/8", 2-3mm), rolling always from the center out to the edge, to avoid the edge rolling sticking and rolling up onto the pin.  

Next, dock the dough:  with a fork, or better yet, a rolling docker, prick the dough evenly.  This is to keep the dough from ballooning up like pitas as it bakes and making uneven crackers.

 

2705478374_5072efd14f.jpg

 

Now cut the crackers, with a knife (gently so it won't damage your baking sheet liner) or a rolling pizza cutter or other cutter.  I use a pasta cutter here.

2704655635_e619e6a631.jpg

 

Now the crackers are ready to transfer to the baking sheet.  

2705477524_30372db126.jpg

 

This is a slick trick:  no spatulas and careful arrangements needed.  Just slip directly onto the baking sheet, liner and all.

2704654757_74031296c7.jpg

 

Now slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven.  I keep baking tiles in the oven pretty much all the time, and bake two sheets worth of stuff at once.

I set the timer for halfway through the baking time, and switch the sheets top and bottom and flip them front to back for even baking.

2705476588_1c3287278c.jpg

 

I do not try to get them fully crisp at this time--the first baking is to brown them.  They're going back in the oven like biscotti do to get crisp.  This way I will be able to get all of them crisp without burning many or any, or doing a dance with the oven to remove them as they're done while letting others bake on.  

Once they're done, I set them aside, still on their baking sheet, unless I need to reuse the sheet and liner.  If I were not double-baking them, I would remove them to cooling racks at this step.

2705476140_ea961b66de.jpg

 

Then after all the dough is baked once, I turn off the oven and open the door until the temp is about 250 degrees F or so.  Then I return the crackers to the oven, loosely piled on baking sheets, and set the temp to 150°F (for overnight crisping) or 200°F (for at least two hours).  This is hot enough to dry and crisp them but not hot enough to burn them.

2704653597_f714c0ef4d.jpg

 

Remove them carefully--even 150°F is plenty hot to burn bare fingers--and let them cool on a rack.  

Then enjoy your double-baked, crisp, easy crackers.

 

Thanks for the primer. 

 

That is a very lovely rolling pin!

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Your photos and method look great!  But, for some reason, I always thought that crackers were a laminated product - the dough is folded many times (like a croissant) before finally being rolled thing and cut.  I once saw a video of an industrial cracker factory and they had a huge machine that would drop a thin sheet of dough onto a conveyor - but the conveyor didn't only move one way - it moved back and forth to progressively stack dough in a few layers as the conveyor went down.  It would then go through another huge machine that would roll the layered batch into a single thin smooth layer.

 

Skip to around 1:57 for the rolling/sheeting

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There are different kinds of crackers!  I mostly make whole grain crackers without laminations, depending on thinness, coarseness of grains/seeds and levels of fats to keep them from breaking teeth.  That's where the coarse-ground grains from the hand-mill come into things--they break up some not-so-fat-rich doughs.  Peter Reinhart's seedy snapper crackers used the oily seeds for tenderizing, but they depend on absolutely fresh seeds and being eaten quickly to keep the crackers tasting fresh.  The eating quickly bit is mostly not a problem because they're delicious, but the absolutely fresh seeds is not always easy to arrange. 

 

I did finally figure out how to make laminated soda crackers (saltines) , but I've not prepared a photo primer on that yet.  Here are the finished crackers....

 

3070418238_32243619f2_c.jpgHomemade Saltines by debunix, on Flickr

 

Too much to do, too little time.  I'm working on photo primers on a couple of cookies right now.

 

 

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On 11/30/2019 at 4:01 PM, Wholemeal Crank said:

This is how I make crackers.

 

Thank you for this! 

 

Got any good gluten-free crackers you can suggest?

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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6 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

 Saltines. Real homemade saltines with just milled whole grains. @Wholemeal Crank, won't you be my neighbor? 

 

The problem wih the saltines is that they're so darn good they disappear FAST.  Even double or triple batches.   The butter is definitely part of the reason.

 

5 hours ago, kayb said:

Got any good gluten-free crackers you can suggest?

 

I've only recently started to work on this due to friend's celiac diagnosis, and the 'Tangy Aromatic Crackers' from Alice Medrich in Flavor Flours, are by far the best yet. 

 

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13 hours ago, Wholemeal Crank said:

 

I've only recently started to work on this due to friend's celiac diagnosis, and the 'Tangy Aromatic Crackers' from Alice Medrich in Flavor Flours, are by far the best yet. 

 

 

And I can (and just did) get that on Kindle Unlimited. Thanks again.

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 months later...

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.

 

 

 

Edited by Wholemeal Crank
Forgot flaxseed, added notes (log)
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  • 1 year later...

I am staring at almost 2 kg of Kernza branded perennial wheat

https://landinstitute.org/our-work/perennial-crops/kernza/

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:

 

51411847146_318ec0e001_z.jpg

 

And here is durum wheat, not to same scale:

 

51411107387_f581bb25ea_z.jpg

 

Hard Red Fife Wheat, ditto

 

51412610044_0628174129_z.jpg

 

And plump soft white wheat, ditto

 

51412834730_46e1735a1b_z.jpg

 

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.

 

51412124153_28c585684a_z.jpg

 

It's baking qualities will likely be quite distinctive:

 

Quote

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:

 

Quote

 

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
1
2
3
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
1
© 2018 published by Elsevier. This manuscript is made available under the Elsevier user license
https://www.elsevier.com/open-access/userlicense/1.0/

Edited by Wholemeal Crank
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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. 

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And just in case someone is looking for an update about cooking the kernza for breakfast:   I let it go dry during cooking in the microwave and clearly need to work on my technique, little bit by little bit.  Next time, stovetop for easier monitoring.

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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

 

 

Edited by Wholemeal Crank
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  • 2 weeks later...

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;

 

51516984987_128a59f0c4_b.jpg

 

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

 

51517798606_c97cfa9dae_b.jpg

 

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

 

51517858786_694602d79a_b.jpg

 

51518775075_a43abd87eb_b.jpg

 

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

 

51518007323_554e982aa7_b.jpg

 

and prepared little rolls in a muffin tray. 

 

51517808006_1ff161e934_b.jpg

 

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

 

51518043298_1c1110585f_b.jpg

 

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

 

51518750985_c21af7eb8b_b.jpg

 

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.

 

51518087518_90b5c7f315_b.jpg

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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