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.
“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!”
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!
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.
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.