Poetry led me back to bread.
I was in Youngstown last weekend for the amazing Lit Youngstown Festival. Being a hermit-y sort, I’ve never been to a literary festival before but went because an awesome thing happened. An excerpt from a poem of mine was stamped on a sidewalk along with the work of three other poets. It has been a season of surreal poetry honors for me.
After the sidewalk dedications, I had no idea where my car was parked. A wonderful new writer friend, Cherise, said she’d walk me there. Turned out my car was at least a half hour away, which gave us time to talk about obscure movies, gardening, and the strange culinary explorations we’re on as people with health issues/food allergies. Cherise told me about a bread recipe she makes that has only two ingredients if one doesn’t count water — it’s simply buckwheat and salt.
A few years ago I ordered a 25 pound bag of organic buckwheat groats from our food co-op. Getting through it has been a challenge. Here and there I’ve ground it into flour or made puffed groats. My family is pretty tolerant of the many grains I toss into things (although teff nearly caused a revolt). But I gave up baked goods myself years ago. I can’t eat wheat and I’m allergic to many of the ingredients that go into gluten-free products (eggs, corn, psyllium husk, etc). Although I bake bread every week for my family, I just don’t eat bread/buns/wraps/chips.
But I thought I’d give Cherise’s recipe a try. If my angry beast of a body refused to tolerate the bread I could feed it to the chickens. But turned out amazing. The original recipe, from Nele Liivlaid’s site Nutriplanet, suggests the addition of oregano and sunflower seeds. Those aren’t necessary, but the second time I made the loaf I used sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Excellent flavors when toasted!
Fermented Buckwheat Bread
2 cups raw buckwheat groats*
1 ¼ cup filtered water (plus water to soak)
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Soak buckwheat groats in water for 6 to 8 hours. There may be some discoloration at the very top, that’s normal.
Dump the soaked grains into a colander, rinse a bit, then let drain 10 minutes or so to get out residual water. (The liquid after soaking is quite gooey.)
Put 1 1/4 cup water in blender and add drained buckwheat. Blend until smooth batter forms.
Pour the batter into glass, ceramic, or plastic bowl (not metal). Cover the bowl with a plate or cloth, then let it ferment in a warm place. If your kitchen is toasty warm, perfect. If your stove has a proofing drawer, excellent. The ideal temperature is 95°F. I cover my bowl tightly, then set it inside our dehydrator turned to 95°F (herb setting). Let rise at 95°F for 7 hours or so. If you don’t have a way to keep it that warm, you can ferment at room temperature for up to 22 hours. After fermenting you should see the batter has risen a bit and small bubbles have formed.
Now add salt and any other optional ingredients. Mix gently with a non-metal spoon. Do not over-mix, you want to keep the batter fluffy.
Pour batter into large loaf pan lined with parchment paper. (I use a large and mini-loaf size to avoid oven spillage.) Put the pan or pans back into your warm area to rise a bit more – an hour or two at 95°F really helps. (I have forgotten the parchment. The bread comes out of a greased pan pretty well.)
Put the pan or pans into the oven, then turn the heat to 350°F. Start timing once the oven reaches temperature. A tiny loaf pan takes about 35 to 40 minutes, a large loaf pan about 45 to 55 minutes. It’s done when firm on top and pulled away from the sides.
Remove bread from pan and place on cooling rack. Don’t slice until cool or nearly cool.
This bread is best toasted.
It freezes well. Slice, place waxed paper or parchment between slices for easy removal, place in freezer bag or freezer container.
Serving suggestions, toast and then add:
Hummus and tomatoes.
Nut butter and bananas.
Guacamole and black beans.
Roasted garlic and cheese, broil till cheese melts.
*This recipe only works with raw buckwheat groats. Not toasted (kasha). Not buckwheat flour.