Saving the ancient grain

Saving the ancient grain

Posted 15th May 2015

To celebrate Real Bread Week (from 9th to 15th May) we discovered more about baking with ancient grains thanks to Doves Farm, the family-run organic flour specialists who have made baking with these tasty grains possible

There is an increasing use of ancient grains in breadmaking as they have such interesting flavours, textures and can be lower in gluten. Some of the ancient grain varieties include:

Organic Einkorn Wholemeal Flour
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum) was the original wheat, developed over 20,000 years ago. Doves Farm have been growing einkorn since 2008 and think the flour is perfect for bread baking. It grows on tall stalks (pictured right) which are distinguished by their short, flat, two row seed head which enclose small grains in an inedible husk. After harvest the husk is removed and a traditional stoneground process is used to mill the grain into a soft golden flour. Einkorn flour makes great rustic style breads and pizza bases either on its own or blended half and half with white bread flour. Add baking powder to einkorn to make artisan style cakes too.

Organic Emmer Wholemeal Flour
Another ancient grain, which followed on from Einkorn. In 2012 five acres of Emmer was planted at Doves Farm using seed from an agricultural research station. Historical evidence from the many local hill forts confirms that all these crops, including Emmer, would have been grown in the UK during Iron Age and Roman times. With a deep earthy flavour, this flour is creamy in texture and produces delicious loaves of bread, but can also be used in place of your usual white or wholemeal plain flour, with raising agents added, for cake and biscuit baking.

Organic Wholemeal Spelt
An ancient relative of modern wheat, the spelt grain (Triticum speltum) was widely grown by the Romans. Organic wholemeal spelt flour is milled the old-fashioned way, using only whole grains in the stoneground process, to create a 100% wholemeal spelt flour that has complex flavours and bakes a delicious loaf.

We spoke with owner of Doves Farm Clare Marriage (pictured left) to find out more about baking with ancient grains.

Do you use a lot of ancient grains in your products? If so, why?

Yes, we have several ranges of ancient grains. We have our Artisan Flours (organic white rye flour, organic white spelt flour, wholemeal buckwheat flour etc.) and our Gourmet Collection grains and flours (gluten-free organic millet flour, gluten-free teff flour, gluten-free buckwheat grain etc.). We have always been interested in older varieties of wheat and grains due to their unique characteristics.

Is baking with flour from ancient grains very different to say normal white bread flour?

Yes, modern grain varieties have been bred for the ability to work well in large plant bakeries, whereas ancient grains’ unique and distinctive characteristics are not always suited to large bakeries. However artisan bakers and smaller bakeries have great success working with many of the ancient grains. There are lower amounts of gluten found in ancient grains compared to modern varieties. For example, bread made with spelt flour will rise quickly compared to normal bread and if left to prove for as long as a conventional loaf it is in danger of collapsing. On the plus side spelt has the most wonderful nutty flavour.

What are your top three flours for baking bread and why?

Organic Einkorn Wholemeal Flour – because it has an earthy wholegrain flavour
Organic Emmer Wholemeal Flour – because it has a creamy wholemeal flavour
Organic Spelt Wholemeal Flour – because it has a somewhat nutty flavour.

Do you have a favourite bread recipe yourself?

Yes, my favourite is wholemeal spelt bread or Roman style loaf. I love baking bread and also like a variety of different flours and sometimes use organic strong white bread flour and add 20 per cent seeds and nuts or stoned olives. On other days all I want is the malty taste of a malthouse loaf. I also think pizza made from bread dough is good.

For our diabetic and gluten intolerant readers, do you have any flour or recipe recommendations for making bread?

For those who are diabetic I suggest wholemeal bread. Bakers can leave out the sugar but will need to leave the bread to prove for longer so it has more time to rise (the sugar is added to speed up the yeast).

For gluten-free bread forget all the rules of traditional bread making! Use gluten-free bread flour and follow the recipe on the back of the packet.

What's new for Doves Farm going forward?

We are excited to be launching a delicious new range of Free From Cookies in May. The cookies are free from gluten, milk, peanut, egg and soya and are ideal for consumers with a gluten intolerance, coeliac disease or other food intolerances. Supported by a rigorous testing regime, they are also a must for households with multiple allergen sufferers as one size fits all.

To find out more about Doves Farm visit 


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