New future for old wheat varieties

Baking experiments with rare regional types of grain

The Bavarian Bakery Academy in Lochham was the site of a practical culinary test in February. The Bavarian Culinary Heritage Association, together with “Room Zero”, the experimental food laboratory of the Bavarian Gourmet Academy at the Competence Center for Nutrition (KErn), tested seven ancient Bavarian wheat varieties for their suitability for baking. The team of experts has now rated four of the selected grain types as good.

With the help of baking tests in February 2022, the experts identified those old regional varieties of wheat that are suitable for practical implementation in bakeries and, at the same time, allow the development of a new regional value chain.

The basis for the variety trials is the research project “Conservation of Bavarian Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources at the Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture (LfL)”, which corresponds to the Bavaria 2030 biodiversity program “NaturDiversity Bavaria”. This aims to create the basis for a sustainable safeguarding of selected Bavarian agricultural plant genetic resources.

Practical test for seven ancient varieties of wheat.

After an average standing time of 30 to 45 minutes maximum, the loaves were pushed into the separately prepared oven levels at 250°C.  © Dr. Filter Wolfgang

After an average standing time of 30 to 45 minutes maximum, the loaves were pushed into the separately prepared oven levels at 250°C. © Dr. Filter Wolfgang

The following old wheat varieties were breaded and evaluated in the practical test: Ackermann’s Bayernkönig, Lechtaler Landweizen, Allgäuer Landweizen, Wahrberger Ruf, Unterfränkischer Landweizen, Nördlinger Roter and Mauerner Brauner without awning.

The bakers started making the sourdough two days before the baking tests. The long-lasting doughs were processed and baked after 17 hours at +5°C on the day of the event. The different stability of the doughs during the rest time was very evident, recognizable by the formation of cracks on the surface of the bread. Even after baking, the different stability of the loaves was revealed by the intensity of browning and crust formation.

Four ancient wheat varieties convince

During the tasting, the experts divided their evaluation using a scale of strengths and weaknesses. This brought revealing results: “Four of the seven varieties are comparable to normal bread wheat and high-gluten spelled flour,” sums up master baker and business economist Henrik Passmann of the Bavarian Bakery Craft Academy in Lochham.

Among the favorites of the participants were the Lower Franconian and Allgäuer Landweizen and the Wahrberger Ruf. But the Nördlinger Rote was also very convincing. These four types of wheat have the potential to be used in a traditional bakery.

In this way, the objective of the practical test was fulfilled: four old regional wheat varieties were identified that are well adapted to the baking practice, have a convincing taste and allow the development of a new regional value chain. In this way, the foundations were laid to give a new future to the old grain and preserve the traditional varieties of wheat. This also serves to preserve the biodiversity and genetic diversity of cultivated plants, which are optimally adapted to the climatic and soil conditions of the region.

The baking trials were initiated by the Nutrition Group at the Competence Center for Nutrition (KErn) and took place from 20-23 February at the Bavarian Bakery Craft Academy in Lochham. The KERn is an institution of the Bavarian Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry and gathers knowledge on nutrition in Bavaria. The organizer was the Bavarian Culinary Heritage Association, whose aim is to cultivate regional specialties and keep them viable. Baking tests were carried out by bakers Henrik Passmann (Academy of the Bavarian Bakery Crafts, Lochham), Paul Otto (Krümel & Korn, Müsing) and Julius Brantner (Bread Crafts, Munich).

Also participating were Dr. Klaus Fleissner (Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture) as an expert on ancient cereal varieties and plant variety protectors, Anke Wehking as a representative of the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry and industry expert milling: Dr. Josef Rampl (Managing Director of the Bavarian Milling Association), Michael Schneller (Schneller Mill, Donauwörth) and Rudolf Sagberger (Sagberger Mills, Landshut).

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