This week's kitchen alchemy: a really simple loaf of buckwheat bread.
There's no leavening agent or kneading required. Raw buckwheat is soaked overnight, drained, blended lightly to a gloopy yoghurt consistency with a bit of fresh water, and whatever flavoring you want (I used a sprinkle of garlic salt) then allowed to ferment (prove) at room temperature for another 24 hours.
Before baking I topped my loaf with sunflower seeds and a thinly sliced, first of the season, young jalapeño, fresh picked from the garden.
Next time I might add the jalapeño into the body of the loaf at the blending/setting to prove stage. The thin slices of jalapeño got a little charred on top. However the sunflower seeds toasted well.
The resulting bread is satisfying with the chewiness of pumpernickel, and a rather delicious lightly tangy flavour. This is also a reasonably high protein and gluten free bread.
Buckwheat, (Fagopyrum esculentum) is not actually very closely related to wheat or grasses at all, but is a pseudocereal in the sorrel, knotweed and rhubarb family.
This is the first time I've used buckwheat. I stumbled across it while reading about archaeobotany and the so called "ancient grains" - food crops which have been minimally genetically changed in recent times. Yeah a lot of linguistic qualifiers there, I know.
If my own genetic heritage connects me to the DNA of farmers of the Tigris and Euphrates river areas of Mesopotamia, as the Nat Geo genome project would have it, maybe my ancestors once grew and ate these kind of foods.
Over the years, in this lifetime, I have not been successful with wheat breads at all. Buckwheat is definitely going on my regular shopping list now. This simple bread gives me a way to capture an aspect of the natural wild yeast fermentation of sourdough, plus a whole lovely canvas on which to play with a myriad flavour augmentation possibilities: chile, onion, garlic, seeds, nuts, spice mixes, curry, sun dried tomatoes...all while it lends a certain yeasty funk to the shala during the proving. Pairs well with that crock of sauerkraut burping malodorously in the corner.