Wheat (Triticum aestivum; Triticum turgidum) became a staple grain in the human diet because it contains large amounts of gluten, a stretchy protein that enables bread to rise.
Two main varieties of wheat are dominant: Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum durum) and bread wheat (Triticum aestivum vulgare). Durum wheat is made into pasta, and bread wheat is used for most other wheat foods.
Look for the term “whole wheat” on a product’s label to make sure you’re getting all the bran, germ and endosperm. If it simply says “wheat,” it has been refined.
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum L.), considered an “ancient” wheat, is the oldest variety available today. With its hard-to-thresh hull, it was abandoned as a mainstream crop. It’s still grown in Europe, sometimes in marginally fertile areas. More recently, farmers in Washington state and elsewhere are bringing drought-tolerant einkorn back into production in the United States. Studies show that compared to modern wheat, it’s higher in protein, phosphorus, potassium and beta-carotene, among other nutrients.
Olive Oil Orange Bread
• 1 cup all-purpose einkorn flour
• 1 cup spelt or whole-wheat flour
• 1/2 cup almond flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Zest and juice from 2 oranges
• 1/2 cup agave nectar
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan.
2. In medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In large bowl, combine orange zest and juice, agave nectar, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well mixed. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add eggs and beat for 2 minutes.
4. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack, then turn out to serve.
Looking for more whole grain recipes for baking? Check out Baking With Whole Grains to whet your appetite.
Karen K. Will is editor of Heirloom Gardener magazine, and co-author, along with Editor-in-Chief Oscar H. Will III, of Plowing With Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions (New Society Publishers, 2013).