Grainy Goodness

Why do we do what we do? We believe that food should taste amazing and be nutritious. When you bite into a piece of Field & Fire bread, you should taste more than just bread. The grain, the fermentation and how it is baked all give our bread its distinct taste. But what decisions do we make with our bread that ensure it will taste so much better than any other bread? In this series, we are going to be exploring just that. Over the next few posts we will look into grain, sourdough fermentation, milling and why our oven is so special.

As for today let’s start from the beginning. Grains. Botanically speaking, cereal grains are the fruit of grasses and are called caryopsis. However, for the purposes of this article, they are seeds. So what makes our seeds special? First, we use whole grain in almost every one of our breads. Since we use so much whole grain, let’s explore that grain. Grains are made up of three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Let’s break those down.

grain parts1) Bran

This is the hard outer layer that surrounds the endosperm and germ. When used in bread it adds mainly fiber, but also some protein, vitamins, minerals and phytic acid. Some people buy just bran and add it to smoothies and baked goods to increase the amount of fiber they are getting.

2) Endosperm

By weight and volume endosperm makes up the majority of the grain. Nutritionally speaking though, there is not a lot going on here. The endosperm is mainly starch. Its purpose in the seed is to become food during germination. Its primary purpose for bakers is as flour and is used exclusively in white flour. To make white flour, the bran and germ are removed leaving just the endosperm, which is then ground into flour. While the endosperm makes the bulk of all flour, its only real contribution to nutrition is as carbohydrates, which are turned into energy when consumed.

3) Germ

This is the heart, the soul of the seed. Though the smallest part of seed, the germ, when allowed, turns into a sprout and then a fully mature plant. For us, this is where all the nutrition is. In this tiny part you get vitamin E, Folate, Phosphorus, Thiamin, Zinc, Magnesium, and fatty acids.

By using whole grain we create a bread that has all of the nutritional value of the grain intact. You get fiber, vitamins, minerals, and energy. But even more special than that is where we get our grains. All of our whole rye, corn, barley and spelt grains are grown here in Michigan at Ferris Organic Farm. They utilize organic practices, adding greater vitality to the the soil, which in turn, goes into the grain. Owing to Michigan’s climate, we currently are not getting our wheat here. Apparently, our regular summer rain does no favors to wheat. For now, we are sourcing our wheat from Colorado.

Now that we have a handle on what grain is, how do we make that into bread? Well, the first step is grinding it, but we’ll save that for another post.