Khorasan Crust Pizza

Khorasan

Khorasan, commonly called Kamut, is an ancient form of wheat.

In Turkey, khorasan is commonly called “Camel’s Tooth” due to its hump back shape.  Turkish farmers also refer to it as “Prophet’s Wheat” alluding to the legend it was the grain Noah brought with him on the ark. 1

The popular romantic story of khorasan being exhumed from an Egyptian tomb has been debunked, though it is found in Egypt today.  Speculation about its origin includes ancient Greece or Rome.  Small plots of khorasan are still grown throughout Turkey.  It was reportedly first brought to the US from Egypt by an American airman in 1949.

Khorasan is most often sold under the KAMUT® brand name in the US, which claims to have trademarked the grain in order to protect its quality.

It is believed that this ancient grain was left behind by the results of modern breeding practices, and in some instances genetic modification, that have produced bread wheat and durum wheat with higher crop yields and gluten contents.

It is likely in part for this reason that it has taken decades for this old-school grain to gain popularity in the US.  It was grown mostly as a novelty and shown at county fairs.  The Corn Nuts company briefly considered making it into a snack food, but lost interest, presumably due to its low crop yield and cultivation.  It wasn’t until khorasan was introduced to the growing health food market in the form of pastas, cereals and breads that it finally gained popularity. 2

History of dejection aside, khorasas is one of my favorite grains to bake with.  It has less gluten than modern wheat – a gluten level that our bodies evolved consuming – and is thus reportedly more tolerable to some.  It has a more versatile, neutral, nutty flavor than the also low-gluten spelt, whose distinct savory flavor can dominate a dish and spoil a sweet treat.  Khorasan has a golden color, lighter than the dark brown color of whole wheat that can be off-putting to some children transitioning from white flour to whole grains.  It also produces lighter, fluffier baked goods than whole hard wheat flour.

Khorasan is considered a good source of immune-boosting selenium.  It is higher in protein, lipids, and many minerals, especially selenium, zinc, and magnesium compared to modern wheat.  Khorasan is an ancient variety of wheat, and thus contains gluten.  It has been reported, though, that it contains less gluten than modern wheat, and can be better tolerated. 3

I have yet to find khorasan sold as a flour.  It was for this reason that I invested in a high-powered blender to grind my own flour from whole khorasan “berries.”  While the cost of an high-powered blender can initially be intimidating, the convenience it provides is priceless.  Whole grains are much less expensive than pre-ground whole grain flours.  Also, the delicate oils naturally occurring in the germ of whole grains can quickly become rancid if the flour is not refrigerated after grinding.  Commercial whole grain flours and products can often be rancid, producing an off-putting bitter taste.  High-powered blenders can also be useful in making ice-blended drinks, creamy nut “cheeses” and nut milks.

This week’s recipe is Khorasan Crust Pizza. Pizza is something kids almost universally enjoy – especially when they get to help make them.  We feature a variety of toppings in our recipe, but really you can choose your family’s favorites – or just pull out what you happen to have in your refrigerator.  Providing vegetable pizza toppings is a great way to help boost kids’ vegetable consumption.  One can also provide extra tomato sauce to dip their pizza in, and a side salad or cucumber slices.

Preparing the dough and toppings can take time, but with some festive music, and a few friends, pizza making can become a Pizza Party.  If you’re short on time, prepare the dough and toppings ahead of time, and refrigerate until use.  Or pick up some refrigerated pizza dough and pre-cut toppings from your local grocer.

Pizza Making Music:

Live Italian Pizzeria Music

Chinese Pizza Song

“Pizza Day” by Jonathon Coulton

Unused dough can be refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag with the air removed for up to one week.  Pizzas can be made from the dough as desired.

Hints for Whole Grains: When adapting recipes for whole grains, use 4/5ths of the amount of white flour called for.  This accounts for the increased liquid absorption into the bran.  Using an equal amount can result in a tough, dense baked good.  Because of its slightly coarser grind, home ground flours work best in recipes with a liquid component, like breads, muffins, and cakes.  Using home ground flours in, for example, shortbread would likely result in a gritty texture.  Any whole grain flour can be substituted for the khorasan flour in this recipe.

Gluten & Wheat Disclaimer:  Khorasan contains gluten.  If one is gluten intolerant, consuming khorasan is not recommended.  If one has Celiec’s Disease, one should abstain from all foods containing gluten, including khorasan.  If one is allergic to wheat, one should abstain from all varieties of wheat, including khorasan.

Khorasan Crust Pizza

Preparation Time: 1.5 – 3 hours

Yield: 8 individual pizzas, or 2 large pizzas

Pizza Crust Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups warm water (95 degrees F)
1/4 ounce fast-acting yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 3/4 cups khorasan flour or whole grain flour  (or 2 cups khorasan + 3/4 cup white flour)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Pizza Topping Ingredients:

1 cup tomato sauce
4 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces (bell peppers, tomatoes, mushroom, olives, broccoli, etc)
cooked meat / meat substitutes (pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground meats, etc)

Equipment:

2 large bowls
measuring cups
measuring spoons
whisk
clean counter top
clean towel
cutting board
knife
grater
2-4 baking sheets
spatula

Directions:

1.  Whisk water, yeast, and sugar together in a bowl.

2.  Let stand in a warm place 10 minutes or until yeast is foamy.

3.  Whisk together flour, and salt in another bowl.

4.  Stir wet and dry ingredients together until too stiff to stir.

5.  Empty dough onto a clean, lightly oiled countertop and knead with olive oiled hands until smooth and elastic.  Dough will still be sticky (as bran has not yet fully absorbed dough moisture).

6.  Place in a bowl, cover with damp, clean towel, and let rise for amount of time recommended on yeast package or until doubled in size.

7.  While dough is rising, prepare toppings, and arrange for pizza assembly on counter top.

8.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

9.  For individual pizzas, divide dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls with oiled hands.  For large pizzas, divide dough into 2 pieces.

10.  Stretch dough into pizza crusts with oiled hands, and place on baking sheets.

11.  Decorate crusts with toppings.

12.  Let rise for an additional 15 minutes in a warm place for a lighter crust.

13.  Bake at 450 degrees F on upper-middle rack for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust lightly browned.

14.  Let rest until edible temperature.  Enjoy!

References:

1.  Gastronomica Journal Article about Khorasan

2.  Kamut Brand Khorasan Wheat Site

3.  USDA Nutrient Database

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