I remember so well the very first recipe my mom taught me how to bake. It wasn't something from a mix, the typical brownies or muffins that my sister and I could manage to stir up together without help. It was a real, from scratch recipe for chocolate chip coffee cake, and I was hoping it would earn me a blue ribbon at our county fair.
As a child, I loved watching my mom bake. Standing beside her, I'd study her every move with admiration - the cracking of eggs, the even leveling of flour, the precise motions of stirring and kneading. In my eyes, the highlight of domestic life had to be hearing the sound of the timer calling us all to the kitchen in anticipation of what the oven would reveal: perfectly risen bread, chewy, chocolaty cookies or a cake that couldn't wait to be frosted.
As a mom, I love sharing the memories I have of helping my mom bake with our boys. And, I've promised each one of them that I will teach them how to make our family's favorite meals, desserts and baked goods, so that when they go to college they can invite friends and strangers over for a homemade meal (or woo a girl!). They can practice a work of mercy by feeding the hungry, and at the same time enjoy the fellowship that is best fed around a dinner table!
George is always first to volunteer when it comes to cooking in the kitchen.There really is something in our souls, in our blood that, by nature, nurtures a deep affection for homemade food, especially bread. Baking calls one into ritual; the mixing, kneading and rising is as medicinal for the heart as it is nourishing for the body.
I think he's soon to earn the title of family baker!With all of the demonizing of grains these days, particularly that of wheat, I almost feel like there's a stigma that comes from confessing to be a bread consumer. If your read my post on Monday which was, in fact, about a dietary program which eliminates all grains from your diet, then you might be wondering why my preceding thoughts are on bread.
The truth of the matter is, while I myself might have good reason to avoid gluten or certain grains in my own diet, I haven't found any reasons why my children cannot enjoy the benefits of whole, unprocessed ones. That being said, I've spent the past year studying grains, particularly varieties of wheat and the many reasons why there's a sudden rejection of wheat gluten amongst a seemingly large number of the American public.
Without going into details about my research, or getting too medical on you, what I've discovered is that when it comes to health and nourishment, buying commercial or organic grains isn't as important as the purity of the actual grain. When I say purity, I'm referring to a non-hybridized, unmodified form.
There is an ancient wheat grain called Einkorn that is one of the only non-hybridized wheat grains still harvested in the world today (read about the history of the grain here). Grown in Italy, it is known to be the same wheat that was harvested for consumption more than 12,000 years ago, making it a true ancient grain.
Why am I a fan of Einkorn? Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding...or in this case, the baking. After volunteering to be the guinea pig for our family, I whipped up a couple of loaves of bread made only with the Einkorn wheat. Typically, after eating gluten of any type, I feel tired, achy, bloated and my stomach is upset. Remarkably, after eating the Einkorn bread, I felt none of those symptoms, in fact, I felt very satiated after enjoying just one slice. I also felt energized and experienced none of the adverse reactions that I usually endure after eating bread.
You can only imagine my delight!! Because of Einkorn's low gluten content, it doesn't act the same as typical high gluten flours. It's taken a little practice incorporating it into muffins, cookies and other baked goods. But, thankfully, my whole family really loves the flavor of the grain, and I feel good feeding it to them!
The company that I purchase the flour from also supplies a variety of pastas made from the Einkorn flour which are really delicious (you can also purchase their flour and pasta at Vitacost.com and in some health food stores). Jovial offers the Einkorn in berry form too, for those of you who are purists and like to grind or sprout your own grains.
This is a simple recipe for Einkorn bread, which I have adapted from the original recipe on the sack:
Simple Einkorn Bread
- 4 cups Einkorn flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 tablespoons dried buttermilk*
- 1 cup warm water, plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
*You may eliminate the dried buttermilk and instead simply use the warm water, or substitute warm milk. I found the buttermilk to give the bread a nice flavor and texture.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and dried buttermilk, set aside. Dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water, let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until mixture has nearly doubled. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined (mixture will be dry). Remove dough onto a clean, floured work surface and knead until smooth. Transfer dough back to mixing bowl, cover and let rise until double (about 30-45 minutes). Punch down dough, remove from bowl, and roll into a uniform loaf. Place in a well-greased 8" x 4" bread loaf pan. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Slice and enjoy when cooled!