Can You Bake Artisan Bread with Unique Flavors Using Ancient Grains?

In the world of modern baking, ancient grains have made a striking comeback. They are no longer the forgotten or ignored ingredients tucked away in old cookbooks. Instead, they are now the stars of the baking world, lending their unique flavors and textures to our breads. Ancient grains can elevate a loaf from ordinary to extraordinary, but can you use them to bake artisan bread with unique flavors?

The Art of Baking Bread with Ancient Grains

Baking bread is both an art and a science. It’s a process that involves selecting the right ingredients, using the correct proportions, and following the perfect technique. When we talk about baking with ancient grains, we are referring to using grains that have remained largely unchanged over the last several hundred years. These include buckwheat, spelt, kamut, barley, and many others.

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The secret to baking with ancient grains lies in understanding their characteristics. These grains have a different gluten structure than modern wheat, which can affect the texture and rise of the bread. They also have unique flavors, which can add depth and character to your loaves.

Sourdough and Ancient Grains: A Match Made in Heaven

The use of sourdough in bread making is as old as the hills. This age-old technique of using a fermented mixture of flour and water to make bread might be the perfect match for your ancient grains.

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Why sourdough, you ask? Well, the process of fermentation that occurs in sourdough can help to break down the proteins and starches in the grains, making them more digestible and their nutrients more accessible. It can also help to improve the rise and texture of breads made with grains that have lower gluten content.

It’s important to remember that sourdough’s distinct tangy flavor will interact with the unique flavors of the grains. This can result in a loaf with a complex, layered taste that is far from the bland, uniform flavor often associated with store-bought breads.

Preparing Your Dough with Ancient Grains

Preparing your dough with ancient grains is an essential step in the bread-making process. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of ancient grain flour (choose one that appeals to you or mix a few together)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the sourdough starter with the water until well combined. Gradually add this mixture to the flour, stirring until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean cloth, and let it rise until it has doubled in size.

Baking Your Artisan Loaf

Now comes the fun part – baking your artisan loaf! Preheat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius (or 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and place a baking stone or inverted baking sheet inside to heat up.

Once your dough has risen, gently shape it into a loaf on a piece of parchment paper. Make a few slashes on top with a sharp knife to allow the bread to expand while baking. Carefully transfer the loaf and parchment paper onto the preheated baking stone or sheet.

Bake the bread for about 30-35 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Remember, baking bread is as much about intuition and experimentation as it is about following a recipe. Feel free to adjust the proportions of grains, experiment with different types of ancient grains, or add other flavors to your bread. Enjoy the process and the delicious results of baking artisan bread with unique flavors using ancient grains!

The Advantages of Using Freshly Milled Ancient Grains

The decision of whether to use freshly milled ancient grains or pre-milled ones can significantly impact your baking outcome. Freshly milled grains are far superior in quality compared to grains that have been sitting on a shelf for weeks or even months. It’s due to one simple reason: freshness. Freshly milled grains contain all parts of the grain – the bran, germ, and endosperm. These components are rich in nutrients and flavors, thus providing a superior taste profile and health benefits to your baked goods.

When grains are milled into flour, the oils found in the germ begin to oxidize. Over time, this leads to a decrease in the nutritional value and flavors of the flour. Consequently, ancient grains that have been freshly milled will have a more vibrant flavor profile than those that have been pre-milled and allowed to sit on the shelf.

The only downside of using freshly milled flour is its shorter shelf life. To ensure that your bread maintains its freshness, it’s recommended to mill only the amount of grain needed for a batch of bread. This practice also allows you to experiment with different types of ancient grains, lending a unique and dynamic flavor to your artisan bread.

Gluten Free Bread with Ancient Grains

Baking bread with ancient grains is not exclusive to those who can tolerate gluten. Many ancient grains are gluten free, making them a great option for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Gluten-free ancient grains include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, teff, and quinoa, to name a few.

Incorporating these grains into your bread recipes can lend a unique flavor and texture to your loaf, not to mention boosting its nutritional profile. However, remember that these grains can’t form gluten, which is essential for the bread’s structure and rise. To achieve a desirable texture in your gluten-free bread, you may need to experiment with different ratios of gluten-free grains, or consider adding a gluten substitute like xanthan gum or psyllium husk.

Remember, baking bread with ancient grains that are gluten-free is not about trying to mimic the taste and texture of traditional wheat bread. Instead, it’s about creating a unique, delicious bread with its own character and nutritional benefits.


Baking artisan bread with unique flavors using ancient grains may seem challenging, but it also offers an exciting opportunity to experiment and create a bread that is truly your own. Whether you’re using freshly milled flour, experimenting with sourdough, or baking gluten-free loaves, the use of ancient grains can transform an ordinary loaf into something extraordinary.

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of pulling a freshly baked, aromatic loaf of bread out of the oven, especially when you know that it’s not only delicious but also packed with the nutritional goodness of ancient grains. So, why not give it a try? You might just discover your new favorite loaf of artisan bread!