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Monday, May 7, 2012

30% Kamut, 70% Whole Wheat Bread

 30% Kamut, 70% Whole Wheat Bread

Recently I've been testing some whole wheat breads with 30% other grains: my everyday bread is a 30% rye, but recently I've made loaves with 30% quinoa, 30% oat, 30% buckwheat, 30% barley, 30% sorghum, etc -- and now its time for a 30% Kamut® loaf.

Pretty much everyone knows the story of kamut® by now: that it was brought to Montana in the U.S. in 1949 with the story that the grain was discovered in an Egyptian tomb.  It was grown and marketed as "King Tut's Wheat," but no one really believed that.  The Quinn family obtained the rights to the grain in the 1977, named it "Kamut®" (and protected its name and distribution -- and quality).  The word "kamut" is thought to be the ancient Egyptian word for "wheat."  It was only later that the grain's nutritional qualities were studied, and more recently, its DNA, in order to better classify it.  It is now generally supposed to be a nearly-lost relative of modern durum wheats.  Many scientist suppose it appeared on the agricultural scene about the same time as other wheat varieties that were being developed by the first farmers, varieties of grain that for the first time ever would lose their husk upon ripening, allowing them to be more easily harvested and threshed.

1 cup of Kamut® seeds is darn close to 200g

The people at Truegrain have a succinct fact sheet on Kamut.  I wish I had known about the True Grain Bread bakery when I visited Vancouver Island this past January, I would have loved to try their bread.

The Battle of the Grains
In many ways Kamut® is similar to Spelt: it is a grain related to wheat, probably saved through the centuries by peasant farmers who grew it for themselves.  Both grains are tastier than wheat, in their own way, but neither one has all of modern wheat's breadmaking properties.  The nutritional profile of both Kamut® and Spelt are arguably better in some respects than wheat.  Unlike Spelt, however, Kamut® has not achieved public domain status, but it is now owned and controlled by a single corporation. 

Which grain will dominate in the years, the decades, the centuries, the millennia to come?

This is the great battle of our modern age, but how you characterize it will show your bias: is it the struggle between corporate control vs freedom, or is it the fight between order vs anarchy?  Is the Great Demon that We Must Fear "individual selfish greed", or "soul-destroying communism?"

The battle is played out in different arenas all the time around us.  In the world of computers, it is like the difference between Windows and Linux.  In bakeries world-wide it is the difference between factory-extruded bread delivered daily to supermarkets vs the community artisan bread shop.  In the modern mythos, the Star Wars universe, the battle is characterized as the war of The Empire vs The Rebellion. 

Who will eventually win the Struggle remains to be seen.  We tend to openly throw our lot in with the winners, even if we secretly love the underdog.  We would buy the artisan baker's loaves, if he would just lower his prices.  We would use Linux if only Open Office worked half as fast as Microsoft Office.  We would certainly raise Luke Skywalker on our shoulders if only the Empire didn't have that pesky Death Star.  We would support little David with his sling if only Goliath wasn't so blasted big.

I suspect that the grain that is eaten in the far distant future by our post-human progeny will once again be determined by the grain that peasants can successfully grow, that carries them to the future.  But a lot of changes have to take place before that ever happens, and it will first involve the collapse of grains that only huge megalithic farms can grow.  That sort of change could take hundreds or even thousands of years.  But it seems guaranteed to happen, since modern farming and capitalism is surely not sustainable.  Of course, I have no crystal ball.

Kamut's Nutrition
Kamut® is a larger grain than wheat, and it contains 20-40% more protein.  But some people who are intolerant to gluten can tolerate Kamut®, because it contains less glutenin and gliadin and more albumin and globulin than modern wheat.  It also has lots of oils (fats) that add to its taste.  Montana Flour and Grains hands out exclusive contracts with farmers that grow Kamut®, and so they are able to demand organic certification for the variety.  If you see Kamut® in a store, it is certainly organic and if it is flour it is likely whole grain.  It has less fiber than whole wheat.

More work needs to be done to help us determine Kamut's nutritional profile; see, for example, the page from selfNutritionData -- we don't seem to have info on cooked Kamut's mineral content.  And who eats it raw?

My bread
The Kamut® flour that I obtained feels quite gritty compared to my whole wheat flour.  Still, once it was fully hydrated, it didn't seem to bother the creation of the wheat's gluten using the stretch and fold method taught by Tartine Bread.

I also had some Kamut® kernels and I boiled a cupful of them for about an hour, in hopes of adding them to the loaf somewhere along the line.  Even after that length of time in the water, however, they still seemed to me to be quite tough.  But they tasted quite nice on their own, I thought.  They had a pleasant sweetness.  Rather than add them to the dough during the bulk fermentation, I thought, I will add them later, during the shaping and proofing. 
That was a mistake, as it turned out.  These loaves became a novelty bread, a novelty that quickly wore off.  I would have been better off to add them directly to the dough early on.

Still, the final verdict was that these breads tasted okay.  I had added some of the boiled Kamut® berries to the basket of the dough as it proofed, and these roasted on top of it in the oven, and tasted a bit like popcorn (although most fell off when the loaf was sliced).

I'd make a 30% Kamut® loaf again, sometime, sure -- so long as I could obtain the flour or seeds.

Notes to Myself

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