The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Restoring Heritage Grains - Eli Rogosa

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Stonebake

Restoring Heritage Grains - Eli Rogosa

This book gives some of the history of wheat and it's development going back to Neolithic times and coming forward to the 'Green Revolution' of the 60's and the emergence of monoculture and chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Spoiler: The 'Green Revolution' was anything but green.

It examines the traditional concept of landraces (traditional mixed variety planting) and the way in which this obviates the need for so many chemicals to protect and grow crops.

 

There is a good chapter on the main different families of wheat.

She flags up the way in which modern wheats are bred for consistency, high speed milling and machine driven baking and not for traditional stone milling and hand baking. This she says was done at the cost of flavour and variety.

I have recently started buying landrace wheats, milling them at home and baking with them. The first thing I noticed was that it has required me to develop new skills to manage the higher proportion of stretchy gliadine to strong glutenin ratio. Otherwise blending with modern strong flour helps if you want a 'modern' loaf. The second thing that stands out is the exceptional flavour of these wheats. The flavours are outstanding. 

As an aside, I have also found a source of a good Norwegian Rye landrace. Again fantastic flavour profiles way beyond what I get from modern Rye flour.

I hope to post elsewhere on the forum about my lessons of baking with these softer wheats.

Back to the book. It's a complete eye opener about wheat and the flour with which we bake.

Negative comments: I nearly put the book down after two chapters. Some of the research in them was sloppy. For example she wraps the Romans in with Early Mesopotamia as if they were more or less the same time and not the two thousand year gap between them. Later the facts become more solid.

At times the book can be over-romantic or fanciful at others it can read a little like repetitive proselyting.

However, with a bit of winnowing and bolting it is a superb and informative read.

I hope this is useful.