Khorasan Flour

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Flours

Khorasan flour is an interesting ancient grain which has begun to become more widely known in the last few years. It's also known as Kamut, which is a trade marked version of the same grain. The trade mark itself is an attempt to make sure this grain is properly grown and looked after (the trade mark insists on the grain being bio dynamically grown - a worthy aim, but one wonders if the trademark holder may be making a shackle for their own back in the long run).

Khorasan wheat

My understanding of the wheat family, from which all the grains commonly used to make bread come, is that there are two breeding aims which humans have worked towards - wheats for making noodles, and wheats for making breads. Other grains were used for things like porridges and gruels, and in some cases desireable characteristics from these grains, like disease resistance or climate adaptability, were, over time, bred into the modern varieties. 

Khorasan wheat is believed to be one of the earliest strains of wheat used for making bread, though it appears to have only been unearthed again in fairly recent times. It has good qualities for breadmaking - its proteins are quite extensible, meaning they stretch. They are also strong proteins, so they handle long fermentation well. I find this latter property desireable when making sourdough bread. In recent years, as my breadmaking practices have headed towards many days' worth of fermentation time, to build flavour and better digestibility into the breads I make, grains like spelt have been passed over, as they just don't seem to handle extra long fermentation. Khorasan, on the other hand, survives very well indeed. And it tastes delicious - quite sweet, like rye.

Khorasan also has advantages over spelt at the farm end as well. Because it is quite a large grain, it threshes easily, meaning there is little wastage at harvest time. It can, as I understand it, be threshed with modern equipment, alleviating the need at the farm end to retool, adding expense for the farmer. Spelt, on the other hand, is smaller, and unless threshing equipment is modified, is quite a wasteful grain when it comes to removing husks. In the long run, khorasan may be economically viable for farmers, and thus will prove to be cheaper for us bakers to buy. 

If you can get your hands on Khorasan flour, I recommend it highly for breadmaking. You can use it straight, or blend it with regular flour with great results.

 

Semolina Flour

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Flours

Semolina flour comes from Durum wheat, which is thought to have originated in the southern parts of the Mediterranean basin, or possibly in Abyssinia.

It was cultivated in Byzantine Egypt, where it was used for making dishes like cous cous and tabbouleh. When milled into flour, it is used for breads and pasta. It is a very 'hard' wheat too, so artisan bakers also use it for 'dusting' - a term used to describe sprinkling on top of unbaked moulded dough as a decoration.

We also use semolina under moulded doughs, as it helps us get the baker's peel under them for sole baking - it's like little marbles!

Rye Flour

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Flours

 

rye grain  illustration

Rye is one of those grains that bakers in Australia don't really understand. Apparently farmers don't either, because we have a very different soil topology here to where rye comes from in Central Europe. Thus, our rye flour is quite harsh by comparison with the european's offering, according to german bakers who have worked extensively with rye. We also have less grades of rye flour too - ours tends to be quite coarse, and so it's  difficult to make a lighter rye bread with what's available domestically.

Wheat Flours Explained

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Flours

 Wheat is the second most commonly cultivated grain on earth - and it's used for everything from alcohol production to our humble loaf of bread.

The wheat we grow today has its origins in the middle east emmer wheat, which has been shown to have been cultivated for over 10,000 years.

Like all things agricultural, wheat has been constantly hybridised and refined to produce countless varieties, suitable for many different geographical regions and uses over the centuries.

Today's wheats are high yielding, and designed for quite specific soil types. In some ways, they are a triumph of agricultural method - after all, we have about seven billion people to feed on this little planet, and quite frankly we couldn't do it without the millenia of practice that has gone into the production of wheat.

There has been quite a lot of talk lately about wheat free diets and so on - which is fine for the first world - and not taking into account the nutritional benefits of sourdough bread - but in the end, wheat is the grain we have developed for possibly ten millenia to feed an ever growing population. Sure, we may be using too much wheat in our diet, but compared to other grains (like rice), wheat is definitely more sustainable. You think not? I suspect your definition of 'sustainable' may be different to mine. Wheat, in one form or another, has been cultivated by humans as an integral part of our diet for almost as long as we have walked the earth.

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