Monday, February 7, 2011

Adventures in Buckwheat

I’ve started experimenting, intrepid soul be I, with different flours for my bread. After seven months of baking, I am finally branching out. This is so typical of me. I tend to need a firm foundation, to really feel comfortable with something, before breaking new ground. It is also reflected in my hiking style. As a notoriously directionally challenged person I am at a disadvantage whenever I head into the mountains. Sure I take a compass and map but truly, I have no sense of north, west, east or south. I am lucky to live in a city where from every vantage point you can see the local hills. I know just by looking up where north is, makes life quite easy except, of course, on cloudy days. I wont mention the times I have gotten lost in the rain. Anyhow, regardless of this inherent trait, I prefer to hike alone. Trouble waiting to happen, you ask? Perhaps, but I also have a certain routine I follow. I find a well marked trail and then hike it several times over the course of a few months. During these walks, I gain a certain comfort and, as I ease into the forest, my sense of safety and awareness grows. I start to notice more: the less used paths to the side, a seldom used game trail; a natural landmark. When the time is right I venture off, going slow, never needing a final destination but getting comfortable with this new element of the mountain’s aspect. My needs of solitude and safety combined in one lovely adventure package.

And so it is now with bread. Last week I introduced buckwheat to my ever so tasty, sprouted kamut, pumpkin and flax seed sourdough (rye starter) bread. Buckwheat, for you curious minds, is not a cereal or grass. It is, according to Wikipedia, a pseudocereal, called so to emphasize the fact that despite its name and its grain-like usages, it is not related to wheat. It is, in truth, a seed and the flour is made from the endosperm that feeds the inner germ. Shall I continue? No? Hmmm. Fine. Why I chose to explore this seed of all seeds is a minor case (or major if you are standing next to me) of passing air or gas as some may call it. It would seem that my bread making days are at an end if I cannot find my allergen. I am hoping it is the type of flour I am using and, as such, have chosen buckwheat to being experimentation. But, as some of you may know, not only is buckwheat a seed but it is void of gluten — a detriment for many a baker. My first try worked well, quite tasty, but as I just reworked the ratios of rye and kamut and only added two cups of buckwheat, the source of methane still exists. Next week I will convert the starter from rye to kamut (hopes hinging on the former as the source of all evil) and up the quantities of this upstart seed flour. I will, of course, one way or the other, keep your enquiring noses informed.

Moving slow and creating a strong foundation is one way that I create safety for myself. The other is to be impulsive, even impetuous but, then again, those are the methods of my codependent parts. The mixture, however, is an interesting compilation — at times embarrassing, at times rewarding, but in all ways and all times, unique: my own version of a fine artisan bread.


  1. Your hunt for an allergen will likely be in vain. All of those whole grains contain lots of smallish carbohydrates that your gut's digestive enzymes can't digest. However, there are bacteria who do. They are just respiring happily and making carbon dioxide in the usual fashion. If you beat the bugs to the carbohydrates, they won't have as much to eat. When they don't have as much to eat, the population drops and so will your sensitivity. The secret is to add the enzyme that your body doesn't make (alpha-galacturonase), which is available commercially as Beano. Give it a try for a few days and see whether the bread doesn't become a lot easier to digest.

  2. Thank you! I will try it. With the reduction of rye I thought there was some improvement but, in retrospect, its amazing what positive thinking can make you believe. Beano here I come.