Thursday, 17 September 2015

Amaranth Crusty Bread

Happy autumn to you all. The days are already getting noticeably shorter and as I write this we are getting more information about Cyclone Pam – take good care out there over the next week or so. As promised in my last column, my focus for the next few weeks is on grains and the wonderful things you can do with them. Today we are taking about Amaranth – an ancient, tiny but nutritious gluten-free grain.

Amaranth has been an important source of food in South America for at least 6000 years. In the interests of good information, it has to be acknowledged that although it looks like a grain and we treat it like one, in fact it is not a true cereal like wheat and oats etc… it is not from Poaceae family of plants. It is an imposter!

Nutritionally speaking Amaranth is just like the ‘real’ grains of the cereal family, only it is better for you. It contains more protein than other gluten-free grains, it is an excellent source of lysine (an important amino acid) and is a wonderful source of calcium – around five times more calcium than the equivalent weight in rice.

Amaranth is also a rich source of iron, magnesium, fibre, vitamin E and is lower in carbohydrates than rice; it has a low glycemic index and so is the best choice for people who need to watch their blood sugar levels. It is a superfood and it tastes really good.

Amaranth cannot directly replace wheat flour in recipes. It absorbs water very easily and can result in a very dense end product if you do not respect it. If you replace some flour with the amaranth, you will enjoy the nutty flavour and the excellent nutritional benefits of it. I do not recommend it for making fried goods as it will soak up oil.

Kia makona, Mawera Karetai x

Amaranth Crusty Bread

·         1 cup amaranth seeds (whole grain amaranth)
·         1 1/2 cups water
·         pinch of salt
·         2 tsp dry yeast
·         1 Tbsp. raw honey (do not use creamed honey)
·         1/3 cup water
·         4 cups whole wheat flour
·         1/2 cup amaranth flour
·         2 tsp. salt
·         1 1/4 cup warmed milk
·         2 tbsp. soft butter 

In a medium pot mix together amaranth seeds, salt and water. Bring it to boil, and cook for about 10 minutes on a low heat. Turn off the heat and let the mixture soak.

In a small bowl stir yeast and honey into the water and put it aside for 15 minutes.

Mix the flours and salt in a bowl, make a hole and pour the yeast mixture in. Stir the flours and yeast together. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Stir milk, butter into cooked amaranth and add it to the dough. Turn your dough out and kneed on a lightly floured bench for five minutes. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest until doubled in volume.

Preheat the oven to 240°C.

In a lightly floured surface form the dough to a ball, then put it on a baking sheet. Let it rest for 10 minutes. You can decorate your loaf by scoring it with a sharp knife.

Put the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven, bake 10 minutes at 240°C, and then 35 minutes more at 190°C.

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