The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Heirloom wheat and Jim Lahey

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Heirloom wheat and Jim Lahey

Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Bakery cracked me up recently when I read his comment: "You could give me dog-sh*t wheat and I would still make it taste great!"  This was to a group supporting heirloom wheat production - and Jim really supports the group for a variety of reasons.  But evidently, he thinks other things have a larger impact on taste than the variety of wheat.  He even proved his point in a tasting by the group.  Read more here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/01/is-heirloom-wheat-the-next-big-baking-trend-jim-lahey.html


But, I read that after I ordered some Red Fife whole grain bread flour at a heafty price.  I started out looking for locally grown grain to produce a sourdough starter with local wild yeasts.  That led me to Anson Mills, mentioned in various places here on TFL.  So...I'll make a starter out of some and blend the rest with my King Arhur whole wheat flour for my breads. 


What's your experience with heirloom wheats?

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

It is true that mediocre wheat can be made into a bread that tastes quite good.  It is also true that great wheat makes for great bread.  There is a character,  depth and spectrum of flavor that exists in really good wheat that is simply not there in other wheat.  I would not let anyone's comments dissuade me from buying and trying heirloom wheat. In my experience they are simply fantastic and carry an inherent quality that the greatest baker in the world could not draw out of a mediocre wheat.


Jeff

Crider's picture
Crider

from Heartland Mill last winter just for fun. Price is reasonable -- shipping is a killer. I got some of their bolted flour. There was more very finely milled bran in their bolted than I had expected. I think the flavor was nice and it handled pretty much like any other organic flour which doesn't have malted barley flour added.


http://s55352.storefront-solutions.com/SearchResult.aspx?KeyWords=turkey


 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I've used both the whole grain and bolted Turkey wheat from Heartland Mills.  Maybe it's all in my head, but I really like it.   I don't know what the specs are, but the WW somehow feels different from other flours I've used (softer?).  Yes, the shipping charges are brutal so I don't use it for everything, but living in the middle of nowhere means I pay too much for decent flour even if I buy it at the store.


I was just going to post this anyway so I'll put it here since it applies.  Here's a big, crusty sourdough I've been tinkering with - trying to get back to basics.



It combines whole and bolted turkey wheat with just a bit of whole rye.  Turned out well, nice flavor and thin, but crisp crust (I am a recent, but thoroughly won over magic bowl convert).


200g WW turkey starter (75% hydration)


550g bolted turkey flour


50g whole rye flour


1 3/4 tsp salt


390g water


Quick mix, rest 10 min.  Knead 12-15 min. It will still be a little sticky.  Ferment 1hr, stretch and fold, ferment 1hr.  Shape, place on floured couche, cover and refrigerate 12hrs. 


Preheat stone.  Remove from fridge, score and bake immediately 475F.  I steamed it under a foil roasting pan for 8 min, then reduced heat after another 7-8 min to 425F to finish baking (another 15-20 min, I think, darn, I forget exactly how long).


Does the heirloom wheat make an objective, verifiable difference?  Who knows, but I like the idea of it, and that definitely counts for something.


Marcus

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I had not previously seen the Hartland Mills site.  It's good to know about.


Marcus, That's a beautiful loaf abd I appreciate you posting the recipe.  I hear that bubbles on the surface of the loaf comes from retarding the shaped loaves overnight in the fridge.  I have done that on several occasions, but have yet to see that pattern.  Almost all my breads are 75% or more whole wheat.  Could that be the difference?  Am I missing something? 


FF

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I've never tried retarding a shaped, high% WW loaf in the fridge, but it worked so well for this recipe I think I'll give it a shot.  Then I'll see about the bubbles in the crust.  I, too, have read that it's the night in the fridge that does it. I don't think I've had bubbles in the crust otherwise. 

charbono's picture
charbono

Here is an interesting comparison of breads made with various old and new wheats:

http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/deliciousnessw09/2010/06/22/baking-for-work-and-pleasure/

Turkey Red compares favorably, while Red Fife does not.

wassisname's picture
wassisname

And it looks like somebody had fun making a whole lot of good looking bread, too!  Anything for science!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I've just located two sources for fresh WW flour here in Leavenworth and in Atchison Cnty, KS. Both are from long established family farms that still grow wheat. NE Kansas is more corn and soybean production these days.


I've tried the flour from Atchison Cnty and it's very good. It's a hard red winter variety that tastes great, rises well, just not like the old Miller Lite commercials where it's less filling. It's a substantial stoneground flour and I'm learning how to use it. No glory shots yet but it will be going into a County Fair loaf for Tuesday morning. If there's a ribbon on it, I'll be posting a brag shot.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Susan at Wild Yeast had a tantalizing reference in a recent post to Jim Amaral (of Borealis Bakery) doing a demonstration bake with different wheat varieties. I'd like to know about this whole subject.


Jeremy

GENE FOSTER's picture
GENE FOSTER

I think there is a very, very special taste in heirloom foods.  One of my favorite summer snacks is a tomato sandwich (sometimes BLT) - but to be the best tasting - the bread has to be sourdough - preferably local yeasts.  I bake my own - 'cause I can't buy one up to my standards locally. Now for the tomatoes.  I raise my own heirloom tomatoes.  The ones I like the best are Cherokee Purple and Brandywine.  Think of the best grocery store tomatoe you have every bought.  Then a good home grown hybrid like Better Boy tha is a number of times better.  But, an heirloom tomato is divine, all meat - no open spaces - very sweet - no acid.  I often wonder what we are missing in food tastes as the old heirloom fruits, like apples, etc., even meats as in the heirloom beef and poultry are no longer available?  As foods, even our flours,  become more homogenious, does every thing start to taste the same?  Sorry to wax on and on, but try something heirloom.  It might not look perfect, it might not keep for days, it might have blemishes that would deter a  purchaser away - BUT BOY, OH BOY THE TASTE IS HEAVENLY.


Gene

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Gene; I appreciate your enthusiasm, and you are absolutely right that some older varieties of tomato are very tasty indeed. But I do think you are overstating the case somewhat if you claim that all heirlooms, grown under any circumstances, will always be better. To pick on one point, you say of heirloom tomatoes "no open spaces -- very sweet -- no acid". I've  grown heirloom tomatoes with open spaces, which they are intended to have, as stuffers. I've grown heirloom tomatoes that are not too sweet, which is often good. And a tomato with no acid would be a very insipid thing indeed. The crucial thing is the balance between sweetness and acid, that's what delivers that perfect flavour.


I know this is not about bread, but I think you can damage your case by making claims that are too grand. I was very disappointed by Pink Brandywine, although I too like Cherokee Purple.


Jeremy

GENE FOSTER's picture
GENE FOSTER

Jeremy:


Thanks, I guess I over did it.  Yes, my favorite is Cherokee Purple.  I grow them in pots on the patio. Yes, there is a good balance between acid and sweetness. And they are ugly.  Maybe, I should have said, try some heirloom foods - you might be pleasantly surprised.  Many thanks for your input.


Everyone, please excuse this non-bread post.


Gene