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.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Adding Buckwheat to a WW bread

Buckwheat enhanced Whole Wheat Sourdough Breads

I've been reading about the health benefits of buckwheat.  This pseudo-grain has a lot of very interesting health-giving properties.  So I decided one day this week to try some of Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat pancake mix.  I cooked some up and ate it with our homemade backyard maple syrup.  And you know what?  I don't really care for the taste of buckwheat.  It is a rather strong flavour.  Those pancakes, despite being so good for me, were not all that great.  Oh, I'll eat it again until its gone.  But I prefer the taste of wheat pancakes.

But I can't really pass up on the health benefits of buckwheat.  I decided I would add some buckwheat flour (note: this is buckwheat flour I'm talking about now, NOT the Red Mill Buckwheat pancake mix, which has other things in it) to a bread.  I would only add 10% to my sourdough whole wheat bread, to see what would happen.  Would the buckwheat, even at that small amount, ruin the taste of my bread?

I'm happy to report that these loaves tasted fine.  The buckwheat was not so noticeable, as a distracting flavour.  But you could tell that there was something different about these loaves.  They didn't stale as quickly perhaps.

I had hoped to give one of these buckwheat enhanced whole wheat loaves away, but I didn't see my friend in time.  So my wife cut into the loaf on the counter that was due to go to him.  That in itself is a sign that the bread was acceptable.  The crumb stayed soft quite a bit longer than my ordinary whole wheat sourdough.

Notes to Myself
  • Notes on Buckwheat
    Buckwheat hasn't got as much protein as wheat, and of course it has no gluten.  It has more essential amino acids than wheat -- and unlike wheat, lysine is well represented.  Buckwheat has much more mineral content than wheat (with the exception of Calcium, wheat has more of that).  Wei Yimin et al (Study on Physico-Chemical Properties of Buckwheat Flour, 1992) found that buckwheat added to wheat flour destabilized the loaf at amounts of 30-70% (and beyond 70%, you can't even mix an acceptable dough).    Even at levels of 10%, peak time and stability of the loaf is substantially less; but the loaf is softened, and watersorption goes up.

    Many studies of the health benefits of buckwheat have mentioned its high levels of rutin (a bioflavonoid, or one of its flavonol glycosides).  While buckwheat is the richest source, rutin is found in many plants, including many fruits and vegetables.  Rutin is an antioxidant; it is an anti-inflammatory; it improves blood vessels, and therefore will lower blood pressure.  Furthermore, it can inhibit the growth of some cancers.  At the levels you will get from eating buckwheat, it is going to be safe.  If you take it as a supplement you might have to watch for side effects (like headaches or stomach upsets).

    But there is more to buckwheat than just rutin.  Apparently its proanthocyanidins will inhibit digestive enzymes like a-amylase; and its starch is largely converted to a non-digestible form in the stomach, giving foods made with buckwheat a lower glycemic index, and making them better for diabetics (although if you are like me, you have to think: "if it's indigestible, why do I want it?  I eat starch for calories, I eat things to gain food energy!"  Well, you'll still get the food value from the protein and minerals.  And you should eat it anyway for its many other benefits).  Furthermore, buckwheat protein will reduce cholesterol levels and suppress gallstone formation.  And buckwheat can be considered prebiotic, since the growth of beneficial gut flora is enhanced even as pathogenic bacteria is inhibited.

    There is one downside: some people can't tolerate it, and have an allergic reaction to buckwheat.  Like peanuts, it can cause anaphylaxis in some susceptible people.
  • Buckwheat comes from China/East Asia.  They have forms of buckwheat there (Tartary Buckwheat) that have even more health benefits -- but most of our buckwheat in North America is common buckwheat, and it is plenty good enough).  I grew some buckwheat in my garden last year since it is supposed to improve the soil.  The blue flowers were lovely.  The chickens got into it and ate all the seed, stalks and leaves, so there was little left to improve the soil with -- except via composted chicken poo.

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