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In search of wheat: We bake einkorn bread

Posted Jun 12 2010 6:12am
With the assistance of dietitian and health educator, Margaret Pfeiffer,MS RD CD, author of Smart 4 Your Heart and very capable chef and breadmaker (previously, before she gave up wheat), we made a loaf of bread using Eli Rogosa's einkorn wheat . Recall that einkorn wheat is the primordial 14-chromosome wheat similar to the wild wheat harvested by Neolithic humans and eaten as porridge.

The essential question: Has wheat always been bad for humans or have the thousands of hybridization experiments of the last 50 years changed the structure of gluten and other proteins in Triticum aestivum and turned the "staff of life" into poison? I turn to einkorn wheat, the "original" wheat unaltered by human manipulations, to figure this out. While einkorn wheat is still a source of carbohydrates, is it something we might indulge in once in a while without triggering the adverse phenomena associated with modern wheat?   

Here's what we did
This is the einkorn grain as we received it from Eli's farm. This was enough to make one loaf (approximately 3 cups).

The einkorn grain is a dark golden color. I tried chewing them. They taste slightly nutty. They soften as they sit in your mouth.

Here's Margaret putting the einkorn grain into the electric grinder.

We tried to grind the grain by hand with mortar and pestle, but this proved far more laborious than I anticipated. After about 15 minutes of grinding, this is what I got

Barely 2 tablespoons. That's when Margaret fired up the electric grinder. (I can't imagine having to grind up enough flour by hand for an entire family. Perhaps that's why ancient cultures were thin despite eating wheat. They were just exhausted!)

We added water, salt, and yeast, then put the mix into an electric breadmaker to knead the dough and keep it warm.

We let the dough rise for 90 minutes, much longer than conventional dough. The einkorn dough "rose" very little. Margaret tells me that most dough made with conventional flour rises to double its size. The einkorn dough increased no more than 20-30%.

The einkorn dough also distinctly smelled like peanut butter.

After rising, we baked the dough at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. This is the final product.

Because I want to gauge health effects, not taste, the bread we made had no added sugar or anything else to modify taste or physiologic effect.

On first tasting, the einkorn bread is mildly nutty and heavy. It had an unusual sour or astringent taste at the end, but overall tasted quite good.

Next: What happens when we eat it? I'm going to give the einkorn bread (I've got to make some more) to people who experience acute reactions to conventional wheat and see if the einkorn does the same. I will also assess blood sugar effects since, after all, hybridizations or no, it is still a carbohydrate.

Margaret Pfeiffer's book is available on Amazon

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