The Farmhouse Bakery
Krause Family Farm

Types of Grains: Why wheat?

The preeminence of wheat as food stuff is centuries old. The cultivation of wheat was started some 10,000 years ago, with its origin being traced back to south east Turkey.

Wheat is grown on more land area than any other food crop and the world trade in wheat is greater than for all other crops combined.

Grains, commonly referred to as ‘cereals’ or ‘cereal grains’, are the edible seeds of specific grasses and there are many types of grains we eat other than wheat such as barley, buckwheat, oats, spelt, and rice (see below for a more extensive list). So what is it that makes wheat so special?

Wheat has come to dominate the grains we eat because it contains a large amount of gluten, the elastic protein that enables bakers to create satisfyingly risen breads.

It is almost impossible to make an acceptably risen loaf without at least some wheat mixed in. However, when it comes to nutritional content there is no such thing as the “healthiest” grain - some are stronger in one nutrient and others in different nutrients (for more information on different grains and their nutritional content please visit the Whole Grains Council.

Just as the nutritional content varies between different types of grains, so does their flavour and texture. Spelt, for example, is a good alternative to wheat for people with sensitivities to modern day wheat. It contains a different kind of gluten than wheat that is easier for the human body to digest. Spelt has high water solubility allowing it to easily absorb nutrients. It has a nutty taste adding a unique flavour to our breads. Rye grain was originally discovered growing wild in eastern parts of Turkey & surrounding areas. It has a nice earthy flavour and is easier to digest and registers lower on the glycemic scale making it an excellent choice for those needing to watch their glycemic (blood sugar) levels.

For more information on these different grains and a few interesting facts about each one of them please see the Whole Grains A to Z from the Whole Grains Council.

Gluten free flours (such as buckwheat, millet and rice) are difficult to make bread with for the aforementioned reason: gluten is necessary to build dough structure that allows bakers to trap gases produced during fermentation. However, gluten free flours can be added in small proportions to wheat without greatly impacting the final structure of the loaf. We use buckwheat in our Country Sourdough, and Millet is added to our 12 grain cereal mix that you will find in our multigrain sourdough and 12 grain breads. Millet is, also, used in our Ezekiel bread.