Last night I made a whole wheat bread out of some whole grains of emmer wheat my wife had given me for my birthday. This is an ancient strain of wheat, one that used 9,000 years ago in the Middle East. The grains are the seeds of the wheat plant, the stuff tha
t goes to a flour mill for crushing into flour. I suspect many people just use them as seeds to give their bread a little crunch. I wanted to do something different - make some flour at home.
Home milling used to be a lot of very hard work. We know that for thousands of years the task usually fell to women, who ground hard wheat seeds in between two stones, crushing them into a coarse flour. In the Middle Ages, European lords owned most of the mechanical mills, where horses or oxen served as the muscle, turning large milling stones to create flour. Peasants were often not allowed to mill their flour at home, they had to take it to the Lord's Mill. Here it could be ground into flour once, or, for a finer flour ( which cost more), twice. The latter technique was often used when creating the whiter flour rich people liked, and the poor seldom tasted.
Well, thanks to coffee grinders, we can all be our own millers now. Last night I used a twenty dollar coffee grinder that I reserve for making flour ( I never put coffee beans into it). I used about a cup and half of the emmer seeds, grinding them in 1/3 of a cup batches. It helps if you shake the grinder periodically so that what's on the bottom is brought to the top, allowing less ground seeds to get closer to the blades.
Coffee grinders are not ideal milling machines - the flour is still pretty coarse. I have tried to make pure whole wheat, home-milled bread in the past, using nothing but the ground flour, salt, yeast and water. The result was a very heavy, dense bread which I didn't like much. The flour was so heavy that the yeast had a hard time making it rise. So last night I used about 2.5 cups of white flour along with the home-milled flour. I also added about half a cup of the raw grains. The result was two very nice loaves, which rose quite well. I gave them about two hours for each rise, to compensate for the heaviness of the flour.
I have attached a picture below of one of the loaves. The bread is nice and crunchy, with a good, hearty flavour. Definitely worth doing again. In the future, I will be releasing a video of some red rice bread that I made by home-milling the rice into flour. Watch for that one in the next month or so.
In case you are wondering about the basic recipe I used, here it is:
2 tsp instant dry yeast
2 cups warm water - mix and leave for ten minutes until a scum develops on top.
2 tsp salt
2.5 cups white flour
approx 1.75 cups home-milled emmer grains
.5 cups of whole wheat emmer grains
Mix together gradually until you need to use your hands to knead and form a dough ball.(If you need more guidance on how to do this, watch my whole wheat video, which will show you the technique, but not the same ingredients).
Let rise for two hours.
Punch down, then shape into loaves. I made two, one round, one baguette.
Let rise for two hours.
Heat oven to 425, with a pan of water so the oven gets steamy.
Slash the tops of the bread with a wet serrated knife. Do the cuts very quickly, so knife does't get caught in the dough
Place breads in the oven for 30 minutes.