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Prudent Pantry: Soft Wheat Berries

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A few weeks ago I wrote about wheat berries. There are actually two types of wheat: hard and soft. The key difference between them is protein content. Where wheat is grown can determine protein content: Northwestern US and western Canada produce a hard wheat that’s very high in protein, while the southern US states grow a softer wheat with less protein. It is the protein that contains the gluten that allows bread and other baked goods to rise. Hard wheat is best for making breads and rolls. Since soft white wheat flour contains less protein it is typically used to create the buttery, crumbly texture associated with piecrusts, biscuits and cakes. Soft wheat flour intended for baking is often labeled pastry flour or cake flour, according to its primary use.

wheat berries, soft wheat, hard wheat, flour

Hard wheat berries (left), soft wheat berries (right).

wondermill grain mill, electric grain mill

My new WonderMill electric grain mill.

I recently purchased a new electric gain mill, the WonderMill. This will actually be an item that will be carried in the Prudent Living Market. I used it to grind some soft wheat berries and make a quiche. The result was delicious, the only flour I used was the flour ground from the soft wheat berries, it lived up to its reputation, the crust was buttery and flaky.

The recipe I used was a basic pie crust recipe:

¼ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup of flour
Dash of salt
Up to 3 Tbsp of cold water, milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)

I used a pastry cutter to cut together the butter and flour until they were a uniform substance resembling coarse corn meal, then I added the salt.

pie crust, flour, butter, prudent pantry

Flour and butter cut together until fairly uniform.

Stirring with a fork I added the buttermilk until the dough stuck to itself. You can chill the dough to roll out later or you can roll it immediately and then chill the formed crust. This is what I did. While the crust was chilling I made the filling.

pastry dough, pie crust, whole wheat flour

Pie crust formed.

There are three more steps to making a quiche before you can bake it. These are: the cheese, the filling and the custard.The cheese – your first layer, by putting the cheese in first it forms a moisture resistant barrier between the filling and the crust, thus helping to keep the crust from getting soggy. You can use any type of cheese (Swiss types and cheddar work well), ¼ – ⅓ pound. I used ¼ cup of grated Swiss cheese.

The filling – here you can use your creativity.  Spinach steamed with sautéed onions, mushrooms sautéed with scallions, tomato slices with crumbled bacon. I used leeks and spinach, which I cooked together. Layer this on top of your cheese.

The custard – beat together 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk (or 4 eggs and 1 ½ cup milk if you are using a larger pie pan). Pour it over the filling. I also sliced some grape tomatoes and placed them on top. Bake 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees. The result was wonderful and the soft wheat berries made a delicious flaky crust.

quiche, spinach, leek, tomato

Quiche ready to go in the oven.

quiche, homemade, vegetable, leek, spinach

Cooked quiche ready to eat.

cheese, Swiss cheese

Shredded cheese on top of crust.

vegetables, quiche, spinach, leek

Spinach and leek filling is placed on top of the cheese.

 

 

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