What do you bake with a complementary sample of Kamut wheat? And what is Kamut wheat? I received the sample courtesy of Bob of Bob’s Red Mill at a convention. Upon returning home from the convention, I discovered that the sample was wheat berries not flour. I thought about making yeast rolls but the berries made it more challenging.
Bob’s Red Mill is a specialty flour miller with all kinds of interesting flours available to consumers through retail grocery stores and outlets (and mail order). You may have seen the products. Some of the flours are gluten free, many are organically grown and many are from specialty and unusual grains. Bob, with hat and white shirt-just like his photo–was in attendance at the convention. His staff handed out sample packets of Kamut wheat berries and other specialty flours. I was not familiar with Kamut wheat so set out to learn.
What is Kamut Wheat?
Kamut wheat is the registered name for Khorasan wheat, an ancient wheat originating in the Near East. It has also been cultivated in Egypt since ancient times and was introduced to the US by an airman stationed in Egypt in the 1940’s who brought home a sample. Wheat using the Kamut registered symbol must meet certain specifications including that it is organically grown, is the original ancient wheat-not genetically altered, contains from 12-18% protein and is high in selenium. Breads and baked goods with the Kamut registered label must contain at least 50% Kamut flour.
Khorasan wheat is is a very nutritious grain. It is higher in protein than modern wheat, high in magnesium, zinc, selenium, fatty acids, Vitamin E and polyphenols–antioxidants. The whole grain is high in fiber. The grain, however, is not gluten-free since it is a wheat grain.
Kamut wheat has a rich, nutty flavor. The rolls I made were very flavorful.
Challenges of Baking Rolls with Kamut Grain
I pulverized the Kamut berries to make cracked wheat retaining the bran and germ in addition to the endosperm (the part of the wheat kernal ground to make flour). Bran absorbs more moisture when it is mixed meaning the dough is heavy. It is difficult to make light and airy rolls with 100% whole wheat.
Bran also interferes with the development of gluten when dough is kneaded. Gluten is the protein component of dough that is stretchy and traps carbon dioxide as the yeast percolates allowing bread to rise. Without gluten, rolls and bread are crumbly like cake. With too much gluten the dough is tough, compact and dense. This is another reason for why it is difficult to make rolls with 100% whole wheat.
My solution was to mix the Kamut cracked wheat with all purpose flour using about 1/3 Kamut cracked wheat. So technically, I’ve not met the Kamut specks for 50% Kamut flour; next time I will try mixing the cracked wheat berries with Kamut flour rather than all purpose flour.
The second challenge was that the sample consisted of whole grain berries. Wheat berries are extremely hard. I’ve ruined one or more food blender blades trying to pulverize wheat berries in past baking sessions. I guess there is a reason for why wheat is “stone ground.” My son has a KitchenAid Mixer with a grain mill. The grain mill attaches to the front of the mixer and uses the motor of the mixer to turn the grinder. We used this to “crack” the wheat.
There are is an adjustment to control how course or fine the berries are crushed. Several references suggested running the wheat through the mill several times from course to fine settings. Here is the attachment from the top of the hopper looking into the grain mill.
The third challenge was that the sample we were given was small, 3.3 ounces according to the label. (I measured 4 ounces.) I needed a recipe for a small batch of dough and located an old recipe saved a flour package from General Mills that I adapted.
Quick and Easy Rolls
The recipe makes a batch just the right size for a 9 x 9 ” baking pan. It’s easy and quick to make because recipe uses a food processor to mix and knead the rolls, leaving only several minutes of hand kneading.
Things are sped up considerably as the recipe combines steps. The dough rises only once after the individual individual rolls are formed instead of twice as in traditional yeast roll recipes; (in a bowl and then after the rolls are formed).
In addition to a food processor, I used Fleishchmann’s RapidRise yeast. This yeast works quickly. The entire batch of rolls, from start to baking, was completed in less than an hour and a half. The rolls had a nice texture; they were not crumbly or too dense.
Steps to make the rolls
Dissolve the Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast in warm 120 degree water in food processor bowl. I use a thermometer to make sure the water is not too hot. Also, it is wise to check the expiration date on the yeast to make sure it is not too old. Add the sugar (to give it food), salt, egg, oil and 1 cup flour, pulse to mix. Set it in a warm place and let it rise 15 minutes. This is called a sponge. It should be bubbly and about doubled in size. I use an convection oven and placed the dough between the burners on the stove top over the vent while the oven was heating. It is nice and warm here.
Add the Kamut cracked wheat and the remainder of the flour. Use the food processor to knead the dough for several minutes. It may appear sticky and somewhat dense, unlike dough with made with all-purpose or bread flour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured bread board. (I use a large cutting board.) Knead for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little flour if needed so it doesn’t stick to your hands; you shouldn’t need much additional flour.
At this point, it is typical to set the dough in a warm place for a second rising. However, in this recipe, the dough is shaped into 16 mini-rolls and placed in the oiled baking pan.
Cover with a damp cloth, let the rolls set in a warm place for about 25 minutes; they should almost double in size.
Bake in hot 425 degree oven for 10 minutes until browned on top. They will continue to rise while baking.
- 1 cup water, heated to 115 – 120 degrees. Should be hot to touch but not steaming.
- 1 package active dry Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp oil, plus additional for brushing top
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided (additional flour to dust kneading board)
- 4 oz of Kamut cracked wheat (1 cup), or 4 oz of Kamut whole wheat flour
- butter, small amount
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Place warm water in food processor bowl fitted with a dough machine attachment. Add the yeast, sugar, sugar, salt, oil, egg and 1 cup of the all purpose flour. With continuous setting, mix the ingredients well.
Cover with damp cloth and set food processor bowl in warm place for 15 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly and about double in size.
Return food processor bowl to the food processor base. Add the Kamut cracked wheat and the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour. Process on pulse setting for several minutes, mixing and kneading the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead for 2-3 additional minutes.
Oil the bottom of a 9 x 9 ” baking pan. Working quickly, divide dough in half. Form each half into 8 small balls and place in the baking pan. The dough balls will be touching. Carefully brush tops with a little oil.
Cover with damp cloth, set back in warm place and let rise for 25 minutes until almost double in size.
Remove cloth and bake for 10 – 12 minutes in 425 degree oven until golden brown on top.
Remove from oven and brush with butter.
Serving size is 2 rolls.
I’m glad I had an introduction to Kamut wheat berries. The rolls were delicious. A little crunchy with good whole wheat flavor!