The history behind the ancient grain Kamut is as rich as the taste. Thousands of years old, Kamut was first introduced to the United States in the late 1940s when a United States airman by the name of Earl Dedman purchased 36 kernels of the grain from an Egyptian street vendor. Dedman mailed those to his father in Montana who grew over 1500 bushels of Kamut in just a few years. After being dubbed "King Tut's Grain" at the county fair, the novelty soon wore off. It was in the 1970s when the Quinn family reintroduced Kamut to the United States. The family of organic farmers trademarked Kamut which can never be altered by modern plant breeding programs.
Kamut flour is amber in color and has a smooth, buttery flavor. It is especially good in recipes such as biscuits, Challah and sugar cookies as it brings out the flavor of the flour.
This Challah bread is made with the sponge method of bread baking with two fermentation stages. This method fully hydrates grains with a weaker gluten structure-like Kamut-prior to adding the remaining ingredients. This gives a better rise and lighter texture to the bread.
This recipe is adapted from Kim Boyce's "Good to the Grain" cookbook. Kamut and millet are whole grains. I replaced some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour to make the bread 50% whole grain.
King Tut's Challah
Heat milk to 100 F. Pour over yeast in mixing bowl.
2/14 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup skim milk
Stir with a spoon until dissolved.
Add honey, Kamut and millet flours.
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup Kamut flour
1/4 cup millet flour
Stir to combine.
On top of sticky dough, add whole wheat and all purpose flour. Do not stir.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
Top with salt.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
Do not stir.
Allow sponge to rest 30 minutes.
Warm eggs in a bowl of hot water.
Crack into a cup and mix.
Add beaten eggs to the sponge. With dough hook in place, mix on low speed until flour is combined. If dough sticks to sides of bowl, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Up to 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Turn the mixing bowl to medium and beat for 5 minutes.
Scrape dough from hook and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes more.
Add buttery spread 1 tablespoon at a time until each is fully incorporated.
4 ounces (1 stick) buttery spread.
Scrape dough into a bowl greased with olive oil spray. Turn to coat. Cover and allow to rest 1 1/2 hours.
Scrape dough onto floured surface. Fold the dough into itself, forming a ball and place into a bowl greased with olive oil spray. Cover and allow to rest 1 hour.
Shaping and third rise
On a floured surface, divide dough into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 14 inch rope. Braid, pinch ends together and place on a prepared pan sprinkled with seeds. I used a large Italian loaf pan, greased with olive oil spray.
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Cover and allow to rise 1 hour.
Beat egg together until creamy yellow and combined thoroughly.
Brush dough with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seed.
1 tablespoon sesame seed.
Bake at 385F for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 310F and bake 10 minutes more.
Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
Kamut grain is a nutritious source of iron, fiber, zinc and magnesium. It has higher levels of protein than common wheat and more Vitamin E.