Old wheats (chpt.3) : burnt wheat

Old wheats (chpt.3) : burnt wheat

Burnt wheat is a typical product of the Apulian kitchen and it is obtained by toasted wheat that has an ancient story.

Today it is  toasted tough wheat, that has a smoked taste and for low content of gluten. Ideal for flat bread and loafs and also to make main dishes. It is difficult to find an ingredient that is poorer than burnt wheat. Now we are in Tavoliere, in Foggia. That region was up for grazing and it led to Director customs.

A bit of background history

Starting from 1800, everything changed. After Italy’s unification, Tavoliere became the Italian barn. In the past, after the tough wheat harvest fields were torched. Then there was the possibility for may people to take grain that was survived to the fire. This Wheat was dark and it could be stored in poors’ houses and people knew that it wasn’t stolen becuase it was dark; while, if there was light wheat in these houses, poor people could be denounced. Flour obtained with this wheat was an important source of livelihood and it was used with other flours to prepare other traditional and typical dishes, like fresh pasta, bread, and flat bread. These dishes had a dark colour and a toasted and smoked taste.


Burnt wheat today

Today this practice isn’t used anymore. To create those particular taste and colour, burnt wheat is toasted in steel containers that have high temperatures.
Tough wheat is cleaned to remove external parts that are more toasted and that can contain damaging compounds and then it is minced in a mill.
Burnt wheat flour has a low content of water and the process of roast, and it gives a particular taste and colour: for this reason the advice is mixing it with 20 or 40% of common wheat or reground semola of drum wheat, increasing the liquids in the dough, to balance the humidity of burnt wheat flour.


Burnt wheat in the kitchen

Today, la Burnt wheat flour is never used alone (it is about 30% on the total dough) but mixed with other flours.
It is used to make pasta, bread, flat bread etc… Cvatelli and orecchiette are famous and they are dressed with tomato sauce and basil and with some caciocavallo cheese. You can make also flat bread, lasagna and pizzas (mixed with common wheat flour and reground semola of drum wheat).
Also burnt wheat flat bread is great, above all one with cherry tomatoes. Also bread with burnt wheat flour. And then loafs, with fennel seeds. Then also cakes, pies and sweets are good if they are made using burnt wheat.

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