A year or more ago I promised I’d make 100% Emmer bread – and never did.
Emmer is a primitive form of wheat that, like Spelt, Einkorn, and Khorason, dates back to when god was in short pants, and it makes very nice bread mixed 50-50 with white bread flour so, based on the fact that Italy allegedly has a thriving 100% Emmer bread industry, I thought I check it out – finally got round to it this week.
First problem quickly became apparent in the mixer – Emmer has no detectable gluten, and the flour behaved like wet sand (I had a similar problem with Khorason a few weeks ago). So once I’d finished mixing it, and realising it was just going to lie there and not climb the dough hook as dough normally does, I left it to rest in the hope that the flour would properly hydrate and, it did. Took about half an hour.
Turned out of the mixer bowl, the dough had very little cohesion, so I kneaded it briefly by hand – pointless – and just weighed/portioned it, put it into the loaf tins and left it to rise – or not.
Finally, after about three hours, it was obvious that it was going to rise no further than the edge of the tins, so I just baked it.
The finished loaves, turned out of their tins to cool, looked worryingly brick-like, and felt like it too, being only about two-thirds normal size for the same amount of dough.
The bread is, as you might expect, quite dense, though the lack of gluten might find favour with coeliacs, but even sliced very thinly, the flavour is just too assertive – it would dominate everything you ate with it. Even the strongest cheese would be hard pressed to hold its own. The texture is more cake than bread, too, but not in a good way. Stale, it has more than a passing resemblance to concrete!
If the Italians really do like this stuff then, for me, it seriously undermines their rep for good food. And I sincerely doubt it’s a thriving industry – probably no more than a niche market.
Would I make it again? No, absolutely not, it’s a waste of time and flour, but I will happily use up the remaining flour in an equal mix with white – that’ll be excellent, and there’s ample gluten in the white flour to compensate for the lack in the Emmer. In fact, Emmer could be usefully added to pretty much any bread recipe – experiment with the quantities – to advantageously ramp up the flavour. It just doesn’t work on its own – not for me, anyway.
To be honest, I couldn’t even get rid of it by feeding the ducks – the buggers would sink!
As with all my flours, this came from Shipton Mill.