For a long while I wondered what it would be like to mill my own flour. So I ordered an German Komo mill, and, along with a sieve, made my first effort with some organic wheat berries. Now I am researching different opinions by bakers on tempering or just mill. Lots of new breads to bake!
The loaf started was fermented with a rye, buckwheat sour dough. The remainder of the flour mix was varying percentages of local farmed wheat, barley and Castelvetranograno duro from Molini del Ponte in Sicily. Buckwheat is a pseudo cereal, more a seed than a grain that is related to sorrel and rhubarb. Rye is a grass, and a relative to barley and wheat. Combined with the ancient grain of Sicily, it's a happy meeting, rustic and flavorful.
Sprouted grains, once considered the province of hippies and esoteric foodies, today have captured the imagination of mainstream bakers. Basically it’s about treating grains as vegetables - growing them into plants, then grounding them into malt, milling them for flour, and incorporating them into dough. The sprouting converts starches into simple sugars that, in turn, transforms into give easily digested energy. In addition, they give breads a textural crunch and sweetness.
I recently sprouted some grains at home, using kamut and spelt. It took two days and required minimal maintenance; just soak seeds for four hours, drain, and put them in a jar, then rinse twice a day to avoid spoilage, cover with cheese cloth and watch them grow. At the end, you could make a "power loaf, an Ezekiel bread, or toast them slowly for malt powder. Sprout them if you got 'em!
Looking through my emails, I came across message dating back four years, from my friend Teresa of Northwestsourdough. It was an explanation of adding grains in with sourdough overnight with part of the flour and a pinch of salt to keep the mix from going too sour. Sort of what I've been working on with whole grain autolyse.
Well four years later, I'm putting it to test, my levains were underfed this week, and my rye was at peak with serious things going on in the jar! So I went back to this formula, which I recall was in cup measure rather then grams or bakers percent. Oh,Teresa! I haphazardly adjusted the measurements, mixed and left overnight in a variation of autolyse.
Rye and spelt are two grains I enjoy using in baking bread, though they lack the gluten strength that builds the structure of wheat doughs. But then they make up for it in flavor and texture. Though we'd like to believe the could substitute for gluten-free diets, and they enjoy a new popularity in baking, in actuality they are not gluten free, even if they contain lesser amounts than wheat. Rye contains higher amounts of gliadin but it is lower in glutenin. And spelt has a higher amount of protein, which contains gluten, so it's no magic bullet to battle the anti-gluten fight.
Today, wheat, itself, is grown to create bumper harvests, a process which can deplete the ancient diversity of the heritage grains, as described here. That said, a baker told me the same is true even for spelt, which is a hybridized distant relative of wheat. It's the cause of much discussion these days in the bread community, because of marketing and mislabeling. I'm happy to know that there are dedicated artisans, bakers/millers today who strive to slow down and return to age old methods, from farm to our table. All to say, as more of us look to make our own bread, there are a myriad of issues to navigate or just ponder. Grist for the mill as we bake.