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— Pat Perusse, MD
Pleasant Hill Grain Baking Glossary
Accelerated Soaking – A soaking technique used on seeds, beans and grains that have an extremely low phytase level. Accelerated soaking lowers the phytic acid while keeping the pH level of the food stable, and even sometimes lowers it.
Active Dry Yeast – The type of yeast most commonly used by home bakers to leaven bread. Since each granule of active dry yeast has a thick outer layer of dead yeast cells this yeast must be re-hydrated by dissolving in liquid before adding to bread dough. Active dry yeast is available as regular or quick rising. Bread made with this yeast should go through multiple rises for best results.
Agar Agar Flakes – (Pronounced auger-aguer) Odorless and tasteless sea vegetables that have been dried, cooked, dried again, and then crushed into flakes to produce a natural gelling agent. Agar agar flakes are low in calories, sodium and fat. They are also gluten- and cholesterol-free. The sea vegetables that make up agar agar are derived from some species of red algae. “Agar-agar” is the Malay/Indonesian name for red algae. Agar agar can be used to thicken foods such as pie filling, pudding, custard, jam, soup, gravy, and kanten. (See our Eden Foods Agar Agar Flakes.)
Agave – (Pronounced ah-GAH-vay) This perennial succulent plant is commonly known as Century Plant, and while it’s chiefly native to Mexico, it also grows well in the southern and western U.S. To harvest the agave nectar the root is collected from mature plants. Enzymes are used to break the fructans from the agave plant down into fructose and dextrose. These enzymes could be organic, or not. This substance is then heated (usually under 118°F) to let some of the water evaporate out of the plant juice (called Aguamiel) leaving a syrup consistency.
With a low glycemic index and a fructose level similar to honey, this sweet agave syrup can be a healthy substitute for blood-sugar-spiking table sugar and honey. With agave being twice as sweet as honey you’re able to use less sweetener while preventing those sugar crashes.
The agave at Pleasant Hill Grain is comprised of 47% fructose, 17% glucose, and 12% inulin, the balance being water with vitamins and minerals. (See our organic agave sweetener.)
All-Purpose Flour (APF) – A blend of ground soft and hard wheat, APF is a common choice for baking recipes such as cookies and quick breads. Commercially processed APF has nearly all its vitamins, minerals, and nutrients processed out. In an attempt to compensate for the lack of nutritional quality in this processed flour a few lab-grade vitamins may be added back in to “enrich” the product. Compared to unprocessed wheat flour, processed APF has significantly lower fiber content, and a higher glycemic index rating. APF may be purchased bleached or unbleached.
Alpha-Amylase – An enzyme which catalyzes the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates through hydrolysis so the carbohydrates can turn into glucose and maltose and be absorbed into the bloodstream for energy. Without amylase the human digestive system would be unable to deal with complex carbohydrate-rich food such as whole grains. Amylase is naturally present in human saliva as well as the human pancreas, but may also develop in bread dough through dough fermentation using yeast. This development in dough is beneficial to the digestibility of the finished bread, but the process is slow, so sprouting is necessary for good amylase production.
Amaranth – A gluten-free, tiny, golden-colored grain originally grown and consumed by Aztecs in Mexico. This grain, along with quinoa are both considered complete proteins since they contain all the essential amino acids which human bodies are incapable of producing. Now with production in the U.S. we can enjoy it too. Like wheat, amaranth grain isn’t digestible in its raw state, and cooked it has nutritional qualities similar to wheat. (See our non-GMO organic amaranth.)
Artisan Bread – Good quality bread crafted by hand using no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Artisan bread recipes are quite fundamental when it comes to the ingredient list, but still varied by adjusting its distinctive slightly sour flavor, size, shape, color, crumb density, and texture.
Ascorbic Acid – A form of vitamin C, this natural compound raises the acidity when added to cooking or baking mixtures. In bread dough the ascorbic acid will improve yeast function resulting in lighter bread as well as prolong the shelf life of the finished product. The name means ‘no scurvy,’ since it has aided in treating scurvy—a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Ascorbic acid is an ingredient in dough enhancer from Pleasant Hill Grain.
Autolyse – For bread bakers this is a 20-30 minute amount of time for dough to rest after mixing only the flour and liquid together in a mixing bowl for 2-4 minutes. While resting, the dough forms by the water absorbing the flour and beginning the gluten-development process. No salt is added to the mixture which allows the gluten to develop without being inhibited. There is also no commercial yeast added to the flour and liquid because yeast would cause fermentation which would begin strengthening the dough—strengthening of the dough isn’t the purpose of an autolyse. Once the autolyse has finished, the rest of the bread ingredients may be added and mixed in. Using the simple autolyse technique allows less oxygen into the dough, while also preventing it from undergoing much of the beating it would receive by kneading. This technique produces better quality, nutrition, color and texture in the finished bread product and may be used for all bread dough recipes.