Grains gotta be grains. This was among the insightful messages delivered at the International Symposium on Bread, held earlier this year at the Johnson & Wales University campus in Charlotte, North Carolina. The secret to successfully unlocking the code and producing amazing, flavorful breads lies in understanding the baker’s role in the process and why variables can be helpful rather than harmful. You can’t control every step of the process. Embrace the variables and learn how to bring out the full flavor potential locked inside grains. 

“The flour will guide the way,” said Harry Peemoeller, senior instructor for Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, N.C. 

Peemoeller demonstrated a formula for Poly-batta, which contained winter poly-crop elements including Brittany buckwheat, Huguenot black oats, Sea Island white rice peas, Scots Bere barley, White Lammas wheat, African red grain sorghum, Sea Island benne, camelina, Sea Island guinea flint corn, and Nostrale rice. 

Glenn Roberts, the founder of Anson Mills in Charleston, South Carolina, discussed how landrace grains don’t follow the rules; they adapt to the specific environment where they are grown. “Everything we do is based on flavor, impact, truth and future security,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of things to play with that are of antiquity. Take what you don’t know and turn it into fabulous food.” 

In addition, Peemoeller demonstrated a new way to bake rye bread in a box. Why? “You can bake it longer and get more depth of flavor. There is no crust, so you don’t have to cut off the crust,” he explained. “We used a whiskey barrel to make the boards to impart flavor.”