Baking with sun from Texel

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This summer I walked over the grainfields on Texel with Meine Koopmans, organic farmer at the Novalishoeve. Emiliano spelt, lichtkorn rye, durum wheat. “Wait, durum wheat? Isn’t that a grain that thrives much better in warm climates?”, I look at Meine questioningly… “Yes, that’s what most people think. But why would the result here be bad? As far as I know, nobody tried it here and Texel gets more sun than most parts of Holland.” I can’t deny, the grain looks wonderful.

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“Would it be possible to bake with this, you think?” Meine looks at me and I can see the enthusiasm in his eyes. “I think so”, I answer, “but expect a result like the dark bread from Castelvetrano, or his (semi) equivalent from the Italian mainland: Pane Altamura.”

Durum is a type of hard wheat and bakes different because of the rock-hard grain. You won’t get the same structure as with normal (soft) baking wheat. “At least we can make pasta of it, a man from Texel is doing that already.” Meine takes an ear, rubs it in his hands and the beautiful grains fall out: “Not ripe yet, but you can feel the hardness. Great for pasta!”

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Later in summer I revisited Meine, this time the wheat was being cleaned. The harvested wheat went through the antic cleaner that, while shaking heavily, dropped the almost transparent grains into a crate. The perfume of Texel’s sea clay and warm summer sun was still present, this must have an amazing taste!

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After cleaning the wheat has partly been milled at “De Traainroeier”, the only grainmill of the island of Texel and I was the lucky one to test-bake. The entire grain, milled on stone. Sifted flour has not yet been made of it. I decided to express the pure taste and force of the wheat; whole hard wheat combined with sourdough and long proofing. The beautiful thing about milled hard wheat is that the grains are there, like little balls.

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During kneading, I noticed a good formation of gluten quite fast, for hard wheat though. 20 hours later I took a beautiful risen bread from the oven: Meine’s hard wheat, my sourdough… An intense taste, baked with the power of the Texel-sun.

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