The Most Exciting Cookbook of the Spring Is Roxana Jullapat’s ‘Mother Grains’

The Most Exciting Cookbook of the Spring Is Roxana Jullapat’s ‘Mother Grains’

In the recipes we’re sharing from the book (see them all below), you can try blondies with malty, cereal-milk-like barley flour. Make the easiest shortbread ever with wheaty, historic einkorn. Granola scones: self-explanatory. Ricotta-cornmeal pound cake, heavenly. I baked the appropriately named Trouble Cookies with sweet sorghum flour, Heath bits, coconut, and cashews and took them camping, for sustenance. (Make sure to store all of your newly purchased whole grain flours in the fridge or freezer, though, as they tend to go rancid when not used frequently. Jullapat stores hers in zip-lock bags. I dig a stackable Cambro.)

But say you’re not me, and you find my insistence on spelt flour to be a little annoying, or asking a bit much. I’ll let Roxana reply: “You have all these spices. You have two, three options of breakfast cereals. Yogurts, you might have two or three flavors. It’s the same with grains. And with more raw material, there’s more potential.” These grains are also more healthful than industrialized-up-the-wazoo all-purpose flour. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals and everyone’s favorite—fiber.

These Blueberry Spelt Muffins are on repeat. 

Photographs by Jenny Huang, food styling by Sue Li, prop styling by Sophie Strangio

As fun as Mother Grains is to bake through, it’s also educational and empowering. “I was struck by the fact that our conventional, global flour supply reflects only a handful of wheat varieties,” Jullapat writes in the opening pages. In each chapter, before she dives into the recipes, she tells the history of the grain and explains its nutritional and environmental benefits.

When you buy heritage grains, especially from small producers, you’re not only supporting the local economy, but you’re also advocating for agricultural biodiversity and more sustainable farming methods. Like Maine Grains in Skowhegan, Maine, which mills certified organic and heritage grains “that are grown in rotation with crops that balance nutrients in the soil,” founder Amber Lambke says. Buckwheat is one of those bumper crops, feeding the soil after other crops have depleted it (use that as an excuse to make the buckwheat chocolate cake below). Sorghum can grow in hot, dry conditions requiring a lot less water and land space than other grains. “The restoration of grain growing in the northeast serves bakers, brewers, and chefs,” Lambke notes, “and is a step toward restoring balanced agricultural practices that leave the earth better than we found it.”

But maybe the most convincing argument for baking with these whole grain flours is that they’re delicious. “The initial steps are very noncommittal: Just buy a bag of flour,” Jullapat says. We’ll help you figure out what to do with it.

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