All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Whole Wheat, Rye, and Barley loaf

Whole Wheat, Rye, and Barley loaf

This is a Tartine-style bread, made with 100% whole wheat leaven using the Tartine bread methods.  This isn't a recipe from the book, but it is another experiment of my own, based on the Tartine recipes.
3 flours: WW, Rye, and Barley
I'm using 60% whole wheat, 30% rye, and 10% barley, for the flour.  The kernels are not in the same ratio: I have merely used 1/3 cup each of wheat berries, rye kernels and barley kernels, pressure cooked for 30 minutes, and added it all during the second turn of the bulk fermentation.  It is a 75% hydration.  The 100% whole wheat leaven was made last night, and wasn't used until the following afternoon.

floats, sorta

adding salt
All three of these grains are very old and have a long tradition of nourishing humans.

Pliny called barley the "oldest of food"; it seems to be ubiquitous in human cultures. From China, India, Egypt, and everywhere that western European culture took it, it seems to grow in most soils and climates.  We have used it as a staple cereal food, as well as malting it and turning it into beer and whiskey; but we also drink it in teas and use it as a coffee substitute.  It is said to be the easiest grain to digest: the whole grain has the most fibre of all the grains -- and the fibre is found not merely in the outer bran, but throughout the kernel.  The bran does, however, increase the fibre, calcium, iron and protein.

The outer bran of barley is slightly laxative.  Perhaps for this reason, most barley that can be found in common grocery stores is pearled: often put in soups and casseroles, this form of barley has both the bran (and the germ) removed.  The whole grain is hard to find locally.   

Barley does have gluten, but only a small amount.  It has a mild, sweet, nutty flavour.

Wheat berries, Rye kernels, and Pearled Barley -- 1/3 cup each

According to the report of the archaeological dig at Abu Hureyra on the Euphrates, rye may be the earliest grain ever to be domesticated, about 11000 years ago.  It grows in poor soil and exhibits more winter-hardiness than any other grain.  Rye is, however, susceptible to the ergot fungus, which has hurt whole populations at times in human history.

It has an extremely hard kernel, and it has a slightly bitter flavour.  In its raw, sprouted or soaked state, it contains more fluorine than other grains, and so is beneficial to tooth enamel.  The whole grain is said to aid arteriosclerosis, and even remove plaques.  It has a high carbohydrate content and is rich in nitrogen.

It is beneficial to the liver; when baked in sourdoughs -- the best way to develop the gluten it contains -- a sour flavour is added to the bitter notes, any ergot alkaloids present are neutralized, and the liver is further strengthened.
Pressure-cooked grains: WW, Rye and Barley

The King of Grains.  Once wheat's properties were discovered, and the way wheat's high gluten content was found to make such interesting bread, this grain quickly rose to the number one position in the human diet, and it has insinuated itself in many human cultures around the globe (although it may now be given its run for the top spot with corn, which is fed not only to humans but also to the animals that humans eat).

Wheat sometimes causes allergic reactions.  Modern wheat has been bred to withstand smut, and most wheat that is in our diet is in the form of old, highly processed wheat flours that may be rancid and have legislated ingredients added to make up for the loss of nutrients that have been removed by the processing.  Is it the gluten that people are allergic to?  Not everyone who believes he or she has a gluten sensitivity has a sensitivity to gluten, but instead may be sensitive to other molecules that are now associated with wheat.  I have seen a published report that show that some people with full blown celiac disease can tolerate certain wheat breads made with sourdough.

Wheat's taste is sweet and salty, and mildly astringent.  It is beneficial to heart, mind and kidneys.

I am not too familiar with using barley in bread, this is new to me.  I assumed that a 60% whole wheat bread would be more wheat-like.  But the rye and the barley, together only 40%, made this dough quite sticky, like rye by itself.  The gluten was slow to develop, and could only be teased into strength by gentle folds over the 3 hour bulk fermentation.

The barley seemed to plump up more drastically than the rye or wheat kernels, when cooked.  Its texture is more noodle-like than rye or wheat.  The rye especially gives this crumb an interesting crunchiness.

I decided fairly early on that this bread would be made in a pan, and not free-form.  I figured that it would, like rye breads, require a long proofing without disturbance, to rise properly.  The loaves sat two hours in the pans before baking.

I waited until the next day to slice into one of these loaves.  The barley has retained a lot of moisture from cooking it, and lends the loaf a bit of chewiness, an almost rubberlike mouth feel.  But the rye and wheat berries give it an interesting crunchiness.

Mixed together in this way, it is difficult to pick out the various flavours.  The rye both predominates, yet is very mild tasting.  Without the backdrop of the sourdough leaven (which, because I'd left til later in the day to use, I believe was more sour), and the texture of the whole grains, this bread would be pretty bland.  But it isn't bland -- just hard to categorize.  The tastes hit the taste buds at different times.  So when you initially put it into your mouth, there is very little taste at first, perhaps just the unfamiliar blandness of a barley bread with a rubbery texture; then the familiar saltiness of wheat strikes the palate, but that's only a brief note before the slight bitterness of rye takes over.  When you chew the harder textured kernels -- and you find yourself wanting to chew them slowly -- their flavour is released too, a second time, and as you continue to chew, the enzymes in the saliva already begin to work to release the flavours of the complex sugars in the bread.  Finally, the sourness of the sourdough comes through, as an slight aftertaste when you swallow it.

So the flavours are complex and subtle and interesting, not bland at all.

6 a.m. light on my bread, outside on the picnic table, after a night of gentle rain -- with a cantaloupe

The pearled barley is visually the predominate grain in the crumb

I like this bread, and it is a nice change-up for me, since I've been eating a lot of bread that contains other ingredients lately -- e.g. pomegranates, or flax and sunflower seeds.  I found myself longing for rye, and this fits the bill.

Notes to Myself
  • I wonder what a 100% barley bread would taste like?  Probably bland.
  • Would the crumb have developed differently if I had used a rye sourdough leaven? I think so.
  • I've ordered my dutch combo cooker and it should arrive in about 10 days, if all goes well.

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