The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Emmer Dough dud

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Emmer Dough dud

Hi all. I just registerd. I received my first order of Emmer flour today, and I wanted to make a quick loaf to see how we'd like it. I started with a cup of warm water, a teaspoon of honey and two teaspoons of plain granular yeast. After the yeast got foamy, I started my mixer and started addding flour. I added a cup of emmer and it made a strange-looking/acting dough so I added half a cup of bread flour and then another half cup of emmer. I also added 2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum and a dash of ginger powder. This made a very sticky dough that was vitrtually impossible to knead. I kept adding bread flour by hand, but the dough quality never improved. I gave up and decided to let it rise for an hour before kneading it some more. I kneaded in more bread flour and it still was acting weird... tearing apart instead of stretching. The yeast is making plenty of gas, but the dough just won't hold together. Is this normal for emmer? The reason I ask is that this is also my first time adding Xanthan Gum to dough. I've read that it helps with low-gluten baking, but it doesn't seem to be helping me at all.

proth5's picture
proth5

Your formula and method are most unusual, so other than saying that you have created a dough at some 88%+ hydration (which is pretty high) - I'm not sure I can deal with your formula/method adequately.


One would speculate though, that 8oz or water, plus honey and 1 cup of any flour would give one a thin batter rather than a dough, so your description of it being a strange looking/acting dough probably merits more explanation.


In general, though, Xanthan Gum is used for gluten free baking - which is definitely not what you are doing.  I have used it when I do my very rare gluten free science projects.  It will create a structure that will hold gas, but does not have the same qualities as a good bread flour.  I don't enjoy working with it at all, but I have found that adding it to rice flours will create acceptable quick breads.  I can't imagine what effect it might have on gluten bearing flours.


If you are concerned about the low gluten quality of emmer wheat - vital wheat gluten might be a more appropriate addition. Or a firm pre ferment.


And some salt.


May I also suggest that taking an estalished recipe might be a better starting place than simply taking unfamiliar ingredients and putting indeterminate amounts together.


Good luck.


 

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Thanks so much for your reply.


I certainly added more than 1 cup of flour. By the time I was done I may have had over 3 cups into the dough (and salt). Normally, I can fine tune the amount of flour by how it behaves in the mixer. With regular bread flour it usually makes a nice ball around the dough hook, but is still attached to the bottom of the bowl, and then I sprinkle in a little flour at a time until it detaches. Presto, perfect dough. But the Emmer didn't behave like that. It was gummy from the start and never stuck to the bowl (just the hook).


I'm starting over with an overnight soak in buttermilk (a la Nourishing Traditions). 3 cups Emmer, 1 cup bread flour, 1 1/4 C buttermilk and 1/2 cup butter will soak overnight before receiving yeast. This recipe worked good for me before with spelt. No Xanthan gum.


 


Thanks again! :)

proth5's picture
proth5

just started my research to work with Emmer - so I don't have direct experience.


But I have been doing some work with triticale and I have seen some research that says it behaves very differently at low hydrations (sticky, with a putty like quality) than at higher hydrations (forms an elastic dough).  One ponders mightily if these older wheats have like characteristics.


Although Emmer is likened to spelt in everything that I read...

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Well, the good news is my dough is lovely today! It doesn't appear to be a big riser, but the dough is nice and stretchy. I think I screwed myself with the Xanthan Gum. My dough is on the second rise and I'll bake it soon. Pictures to follow, unless it deflates on me. ;)

proth5's picture
proth5

reading some technical papers on Emmer and it seem like the grain has a very high absorption rate - which would lead on to use high dough hydration.


All of the writeups talk about the dough being quite dense.  I would use a pan to give it more support inthe proof and maybe get a little more rise.


I am most interested in your results...

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Here's what I'm experiencing - when I punched down the dough, it was sticky, so I had to knead a little flour into it before I could form it. I put one half in a bread pan and the other half on a pizza stone. I covered them with a dish cloth for 70 minutes and when I went to remove them, the dough was stuck to the towel! The dough had gotten all sticky again and it deflated horribly. I'm a novice so I make LOTS of errors. I had to knead in a little more flour and re-shape the dough. This time the boule is on parchment on the pizza stone. I should probably explain that I let my dough rise in the oven with just the lightbulb on. It's warm and traps the moisture.


It should be ready to bake in an hour. My main problem is this - If I pull the parchment and pan out of the oven so that I can preheat my oven, they're going to deflate. Bah! Can I just leave them in there and turn the oven on?

Chuck's picture
Chuck

If I pull the parchment and pan out of the oven so that I can preheat my oven, they're going to deflate.


I suspect I don't really understand this question: If the dough sits on parchment paper which in turn sits on a flat pan, and you pull the whole stack (pan on which sits parchment on which sits dough) out of the oven still all in one piece, how will it deflate (assuming it's not ridiculously over-proofed)? Does taking it out of the oven somehow (which I obviously don't get:-) involve separating the dough from the parchment paper?


 


Can I just leave them in there and turn the oven on?


Quite possibly. There's been a lot of experimentation with "cold start" baking (mostly to try to save a little energy:-). Although reports seem to be less inconclusive than I'd like, it is generally reported that doing it does produce a decent loaf. In other words, trying it (and being ready to adjust the baking time quite a lot) isn't just crazy.

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

My Emmer boule was on parchment... on top of a pizza stone. I wanted to preheat the pizza stone also, so I'd have to remove the boule from the pizza stone.


 


This thread contains two emmer dough experiments.

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

You're right on the money. My boule turned into a pancake. It oozed off the parchment so I couldn't even slide it onto a pizza peel to get it out of the oven so I could preheat the oven. I just left it there and took my loaf pan out to preheat. Both are pretty flat due to my tea-towel mishap. Darn that Sally Fallon for telling me to cover my loaf pan with a dish towel! lol I crossed that part of the recipe out in my book. I won't make that mistake again.


So, they're flat and ugly but they taste pretty good. A little nutty, a little sweet. Not too dense, but certainly not sandwich bread.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

A quick "search" here on TFL did not turn up any recipes. It did turn up the following comments though (all interesting, but especially note the first one):



  • ...The grain is anti fungal ,anti biotic and kills yeast candida and thrush. Therefore you canNOT make yeasted bread with it unless you trick it like River Organica has. ...

  • ...in Italy "farro" is usually served as steamed or boiled grain as a starchy filler/carrier - in the same sort of way that rice (or pearl barley) is eaten. But its tastier than rice or barley...

  • ... The bread that would have been served [at] [The last supper] was matzoh. This is unleavened bread, ...

  • ...Kamut and emmer were used in ancient Egyptian baking so it would be a fair bet that they also were used in Israel...


My general interpretation of these comments is that a) emmer flour cannot be used as a direct substitute for wheat flour, and b) using emmer flour in a modern bread recipe isn't at all straightforward.


 

proth5's picture
proth5

One of the limits of search engines here on the "interweb" is that bad information can carry the same weight as good.


In the great "triticale quest" I took a very roundabout route to find a study that had actually taken the flour and baked "pup loaves" and then had the results reviewed.  Quite informative - but not a quick search.


At any rate, I don't see a lot of evidence to support the first bullet point in your reply.


So I continued on to this study from Purdue: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1996/v3-156.html#EMMER


Which tells me that while it's not a slam dunk - Emmer can probably be used to make successful bread when used similarly to the way we use more modern wheats.


Hope this helps.

Crider's picture
Crider

I use my Ethiopian emmer to create and maintain my sourdough this year. It just doesn't have enough gluten to make risen breads. Maybe it would do for a flatbread. I think it would not only need more gluten, but some more starch as it is about 16% protein.


I've used it, however, to make scones, piecrust, tortillas, tabbouleh, and pasta. It really, really shines at making pasta and seems similar to the way whole-grain durum handles in that regard.


 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I ground emmer seeds few days ago and the flour obtained resembled from very near durum semolina, of course with all the added bran. A sandy touch and not at all a great gluten performer. To say the truth it doesn't even taste all that much to me, I find it quite bland. It was tuscan emmer (in italy spelt and einkorn are rarely cultivated).

proth5's picture
proth5

as I say I've been more focused on my pet grain triticale, but I do read some things about Emmer.


Just as with triticale there seem to be variants - some Emmer wheat is better for breads than others (although no one claims that they are the same as modern wheats) and that techniques need to be adapted.


Most of what I read about baking qualites is dealing with commercial processes and so will downgrade the grain if it doesn't survive machine shaping, etc.


At the price one would hope it at least has a unique and pleasant taste.  I will need to grind some up and see...


I personally don't see a grain that sells at such a high price relative to wheat as something that I would bake with exclusively, but I've gotten my hands on some and would like to investigate how it could be successfully incorporated into a bread.

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

I agree with your remark about the internet. I came across the same information about Emmer being antifungal and whatnot and I just rolled my eyes. It sounded fishy to me.


 


Emmer, Einkorn and Barley were the earliest crops recorded in the Bible (if my research is correct). They used it to make bread. They also used some kind of leven. If they can do it, then I should be able to too (without adding wheat or gluten). I just need to adjust my expectations that it won't be like modern, commercially-made bread. I'm okay with that. I just feel uneasy about this because it was expensive flour for me to learn on.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

...They used it to make bread. ... If they can do it, then I should be able to too...


Yes, but...


It's likely the term "bread" didn't mean quite the same thing a couple thousand years ago as it means to us. My understanding is that all one can really say about "bread" is that it's a kind of foodstuff made from grain by heating it in an oven   ...but that definition leaves an awful lot of variability. Maybe what they called "bread" we'd call "a brick". (something to ask your neighborhood archaeologist about:-)

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Absolutely! I don't disagree.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

http://breadmakingblog.breadexperience.com/2011/04/sprouted-emmer-bread.html


This may be helpful in describing how emmer flour behaves in bread and how the author adapts for it. It looks like she uses it as an addition rather than as the primary flour. I do the same thing with Kamut-it adds a great golden color and nice nutty flavor but it won't hold a loaf shape without support. Great for pizza dough and flat breads.

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Yep. I've seen that. Thanks. :)

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

For those who are interested... The first image is before the first rise, and the second image is about 10 minuts after damage control. Yes, I'm a noob.


 



 


 


 


 

proth5's picture
proth5

you are a self proclaimed noob, let me suggest that these ancient wheats are not the place to learn.  You might want to learn some techniques on modern wheats and ryes so that you understand how grains that are used today and are proclaimed "acceptable for bread" can be handled.


Some suggestions on the Emmer would be to try a firm preferment, increase hydration, reduce or eliminate the bulk ferment (that is, mix, rest, shape, and proof), and bake in a bread pan.


Good luck.  I'm still working on my triticale quest and I have limited baking time, but now Emmer is on my list....


No, it is not the same as the bread that we eat today - but that doesn't mean it isn't tasty...

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

I agree, this isn't the best way to learn. But I am trying to drasticly reduce the amount of modern wheat in my diet. Perhaps I will try some rye.


Can you explain what you mean by a firm preferment, or point me to a good online resource?


It is tasty! :) I shared it with some friends this morning and it was enjoyed by all.


 


Thanks so much. :)

proth5's picture
proth5

on the banner on these pages is a good place to learn the basics.


Pre ferment is a technique where some of the flour from the final dough is mixed with water and a leavening agent (either commercial yeast or sourdough)  and allowed to ripen for a length of time (usually described as overnight) before being mixed into the final dough.  This can add flavor to the dough and change some of its qualities (can make it more extensible or stronger.)


I've had some conversations with professional bakers who have worked with ancient wheats and they have shown me some very nice breads (not modern breads, but nice breads) - but you are getting into some very advanced topics here. Just because it was done in ancient times does not mean that it was simple - those Egyptians were quite advanced in many areas.


If I were you, I would look into sourdough baking.  Sourdough can bring a lot of strength into a dough and compensate (somewhat) for weaker flours.  Again, the handbook on these pages is a good on line resource.


If you want to purchase a good book that will go into many details about flours, pre ferments, and bread making in general, I suggest "Bread - A Bkaer's Book of techniques and recipes" byt Jeffrey Hamelman.  On-lin resources can be informative, but there is nothing like a well written book by a certified master baker.

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm reading another one of your threads and then I'll start into the handbook. :) I appreciate your comments.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I am trying to drasticly reduce the amount of modern wheat in my diet...


So what about modern rye, or modern buckwheat (or even modern corn flour)? Or "gluten-free" bread mixes? Or maybe semi-moderns like teff and spelt and quinoa?


Is it "not wheat" (for which there are all kinds of resources), or "not modern" (which seems to need lots of expertise) that you're seeking?

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

If you really must know, I have several goals. I'd like to find less-inflammatory grains for my husband, and lower-carb grains for all of us. I don't like the taste of buckwheat. Corn is too starchy. My husband doesn't like quinoa. I'm not fond of spelt unless it's blended with other flours (which kind of defeats the purpose). I've not tried Teff yet. I elected Emmer because it is a diploid grain and because it is one of the frist grains recorded in scripture (it's old). Also, it was cheaper than Einkorn, which was my first choice. I'd really like to get away from grains where there has been genetic tinkering, even if it is just hybridization. I want to see if it will make any noticiable difference.


It looks like Emmer is a bust for us because we've both had gastrointestinal discomfort from consuming it. (Moreso for my husband)


Eventually I'd like to get into soaking and/or sprouting grains (and grinding them myself) to reduce the phytic acid. http://www.phyticacid.org/grains/phytic-acid-phytates-in-whole-wheat/


http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/ - Read everything here about insulin, leptin, gluten and phytic acid and you might have an idea of what is brewing in my mind.


http://thehealthyskeptic.org/9-steps-to-perfect-health-1-dont-eat-toxins


I guess you might say that the folks who preach a "Paliolithic" diet have my attention, but I think they go overboard by throwing away all grains (and dairy).  I've also got my eye on the Weston A. Price foundation and I lean in that direction with soaking grains. I'm trying to find balance. I'm just at the beginning of this lifestyle change. I began in February and I gave up grain (and sugar, and potatoes) for 2 months to fix my fasting insulin. Now that I'm not insulin resistant, I'd like to stay that way. But I miss grain so I'm looking for lower-glycemic-impact choices. I have lots of research and experimenting to do so that we can eliminate our dependancy on store bought baked goods. I must learn to bake, and I must bake things I have not already ruled out of our diets.


 


 


 


 

proth5's picture
proth5

that Emmer was a bust for you because of reaction to it rather than it being a difficult grain to bake with.


Although I have an endless supply of Hard Red Wheat being grown locally, I've really taken an interest in these off beat grains - as both a milling and a baking challenge. (If you've read my other posts, you know that i'm never really happy with what I bake, so there is something slightly twisted in me that would add into the mix working with difficult grains :>) )


I don't dabble in specific nutritional concerns too much, but I have heard some discussion that sourdough breads have a lower glycemic index than breads raised with commercial yeast.  I have a friend who seems to be sensitive to eating certain breads, but she can tolerate small amounts of my levain raised breads.  Not preaching - just observing...


Good luck with your grain search and your baking journey.

Pixelle's picture
Pixelle

Yeah, it sucks. My husband is in so much pain that he intends to go to the doctor today or tomorrow. It started just a few hours after he first tried the Emmer bread. I gave him some probiotics last night, but he's still miserable.


Sourdough is definitely on my to-try list. I'm just intimidated by letting this concoction seemingly rot on my counter... and then having to throw parts of it away? eek! It sounds wasteful and kind of gross. But I do love a good sourdough.


Today I'm making homemade yogurt for the first time. We're trying everything at once over here.

proth5's picture
proth5

on sourdough.  It doesn't even seemingly rot (if you can imagine the difference between milk being cultured and milk actually rotting - as does UHT milk).  If you get just a bit of established starter (and you can beg or buy this from many sources) you don't even have to go through the first week or so of bacterial growth.  Mine has lived on the counter for over a decade now and behaves well and actually smells quite nice.


There are a lot of methods for "no discard" sourdough (and they are described on these pages). (You will also find a lot of uses for the discards, but for a wheat restricted diet these might not be so good.)    I don't practice any of them, though.  I take the approach that I feed my cat and I feed my fish and they haven't done any work in years (and both involve some - ermm - "discards").  No one calls this waste.  But I have a process for feeding my levain and although it involves discarding some of it - at least the stuff raises my bread.  It's just a personal philosophy and an adaptation that fits my circumstances.


There are also those who do gluten free sourdough - although I do not - and some of it is documented on these pages.


Again, best wishes.