Choose the winners of the great FMR Kernza bake-off!

by Ellie Rogers

Here at FMR, we're pretty serious about transitioning to clean-water crops. We're also pretty serious about baked goods. When Perennial Pantry announced earlier this year that we could get our oven mitts on Kernza flour for the first time, we thought we'd cook up an FMR bake-off.

Vote for our star baker

The competition has been fierce, so we're putting the vote to you. Check out the entries below, pretend for a minute that the pandemic is over and imagine the taste of each, then choose our star baker by October 31.

If you could only try one, which would you pick? Vote here:

Unfortunately, a virtual bake-off is mostly an exercise in food photography and self-promotion (note our executive director Whitney's entry), rather than an appeal to your taste buds. But it's also a chance to learn about our experiences baking with a promising perennial grain so you can get inspired and get some for yourself. (Want to learn more about Kernza? Here's the latest good news.)

1) Sara's Kernza garden foccacia

Sara with beautiful focaccia

Description

This focaccia has been seasoned and decorated with a gardenscape of herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. It's a feast for the eyes AND taste buds.

Notes from the baker

I got this recipe from Tasty. I substituted Kernza flour for the regular flour that was called for in the recipe. The Kernza was easy to work with and tasty!

2) Colleen's Kernza buttermilk English muffins

Colleen baking, English muffins, and Colleen with muffins

Description

These English muffins are hearty yet fluffy. The seared outer crust and tangy buttermilk make every bite savory.

Notes from the baker

This was my first-ever time making English muffins. I used a recipe for whole-wheat muffins but subbed in Kernza for 25% of the flour and buttermilk for regular milk.

My dad thinks I should get extra points for using the beautiful bread board he made me. Working with Kernza was a bit of a challenge but I really like its flavor and texture. I found the best success mixing Kernza with other more common flours, especially with recipes designed for whole-wheat flour. Adding Kernza to chocolate chip cookies was delicious!

3) Sophie's Kernza cinnamon rolls

Sophie rolling dough, amazing iced cinnamon rolls, Sophie with cinnamon rolls

Description

I made cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese glaze, with half Kernza flour and half all-purpose flour. The Kernza's nutty flavor complimented the cinnamon really well. They ended up with a really nice, light texture!

4) Peter's Kernza Bakersfield sourloaf

Peter's flour, rising dough and dog, and final loaf

Description

My gosh, is it ever a shame that the internet can't yet transmit smells and tastes! But that's probably a good thing for the other contestants, who therefore stand a chance in this bakeoff.

May I present to you the delight of delights, the crusty, chewy, tangy (yet subtle), virtuous, and endorsed-by-James-Beard-himself... Kernza Bakersfield Sourloaf!!! [confetti] Many people are saying that they would prefer to die rather than not eat this bread.

Notes from the baker

This obscenely flawless creation uses 1 part Kernza flour, 1 part Bakersfield Bread Flour (Minneapolis' own!) and 2 parts whatever flour was in the canister in my cupboard. It's perfect fermentation process was driven by yeasts from a several years-old starter that smells of ripe pears and dog farts. I lovingly allowed this loaf to rise to the perfect cold height before baking it at 525/425 degrees in a Dutch oven for 36 minutes.

One thing I've noticed about Kernza is that the more I use, the longer it takes the loaf to rise... I'd be interested to know if anyone else experienced that.

5) Ellen's Kernza pasta with sweet potato

Pasta with sweet potato and cheese

Description

This Kernza pasta paired with sweet potato and caramelized onion had a strong fall flavor, which I love as the leaves are changing.

Notes from the baker

When I was making the homemade pasta, I started with a recipe that was equal parts Kernza and white flour, and needed to add in a little more white flour (about 1/4 cup) as the dough was a little wetter.

I had a lot of fun trying out a few of our favorite recipes with Kernza substitutions. It was surprising to me how easy it was to adapt well loved recipes into delicious nutty and earthy dishes with this perennial grain. I think we have a new staple ingredient in our house!

6) Whitney's "Peasant Uprising — Kernza-style"

Whitney's bread loaf
Description

Nothing better evokes the spirit of autumn than the smell of yeast in the scullery and a Kernza peasant loaf cooling on the hearth. This rustic, nutty delight pairs well with anchovies, a hearty soup or pungent cheese and is so much more delicious when you know that it's made from a perennial grain that keeps our rivers and lakes clean and our butterflies aflutter!

Notes from the baker

This is my usual peasant bread recipe with Kernza flour substituted for the rye and whole-wheat ingredients. I also use a special charm that makes this unique bread irresistible to bakeoff judges.

This artisan Kernza loaf satisfies our deepest longing for what is real and good in the world. It deserves a spot in the dough hall of fame. It tastes great too!

7) Dhaivyd's vegan fudge Kernza brownies

Brownie with raspberries and ice cream

Description

We’re normally not huge brownie fans in our household, but these brownies were great on their own and spectacular with vegan ice cream. When I first tried them, I was trying to place the nutty, almost gingery spices — turns out it was just the Kernza!

Notes from the baker

Haiku: Vegan Fudge Brownies; So much better with Kernza; Perfect birthday treat!

8) Ellie's apple-cinnamon Kernza muffins

Ellie's muffins, Ellie and baby with muffins

Description

The origin story of these muffins: In early fall, we followed a handpainted sign beside our most loved trail to a secret orchard. We gathered apples born of zest and honey from laden, craggy trees. Back home, we cut and folded crisp pieces into a rich batter. A tapped maple grove across the river made an amber syrup that we drenched over our mix.

The base? A prairie grass we can eat — milled by Perennial Pantry, grown near Pipestone. How heartening. And hearty! Our household devoured these muffins.

Notes from the baker

I started with a cup each of Kernza flour and unbleached white flour, but ended up adding more Kernza flour. (Maybe Kernza flour doesn't sit as densely in the cup?) The subtle resulting taste from Kernza reminded me of baked walnuts.

Thanks for voting!

Vote by October 31 through the embedded poll above or follow this link. We'll announce the winners in November on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Plus, local chef and expert Beth Dooley will weigh in on the winning entries.

 

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