Friday, October 8, 2010

An Old World Bread with Whole Wheat Flour and Chickpeas

While it is well-known that the first humans came from what is today East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania mostly), the first agricultural communities developed in the Middle East. The city of Jericho, with remnants of a settlement going back some 10,000 years claims to be the oldest. And all over the Middle East are cities and towns with past histories spanning many thousands of years. One of the very first domesticated plants, a plant grown from seeds from year to year was wheat, and bread, is one of the very first foods that was cooked (baked in an open fire most likely) and not eaten raw. It grows wild in the Middle East to this day. Other grains, whose seeds were gathered, then saved and re-planted in the spring include barley, and chickpeas. In the West they are also called garbanzo beans, although technically, they are seeds, not beans. They do not, as far as I know, grow in a pod. Whatever. Chickpeas remain very popular throughout the Middle East. They are, of course, the main ingredient in the ever present hummus dip. And they find themselves in sauces, dips and baked dishes everywhere.

In the health food community, and in the gluten-free communities, they also are popular both because of their great health benefits (fiber, protein minerals and vitamins etc.) and also because, when dried they can be ground into a gluten-free flour. This unusual bread adapted from  a recipe in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking . 

It uses mashed, cooked chickpeas (not hummus which is flavored with spices) as well as whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Needless to say, it is super-healthy and just as important, it is delicious. Enjoy!

Here's What You'll Need for 1 loaf:
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon honey
cooking water from chickpeas plus more water to make 1 cup liquid
1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) olive oil (optional)

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Cook the chickpeas in the water until very soft. If you are using canned chickpeas, this will take only a few minutes. If you are using dry beans, it can take as much as 3 hours of slow cooking. You decide. When they are done, drain, but save the water, then mash the chickpeas to as smooth as possible with a fork. Set aside.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Dissolve the honey in the liquid (cooking water plus more to make 1 cup plus oil if using).
3. Mix together the flours and the salt, then add the liquids and the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix together and knead to form a soft, slightly tacky dough. It will be quite supple and elastic. 

A quick way to do this is to use a food processor. A minute or two of mixing, using the steel blade and you are done. Just mix until the dough forms a ball and starts circling the processor bowl. You may find you need to add a bit (as much as 1/4  to 1/2 cup) of flour since the whole wheat absorbs more liquid than regular. Let the dough be your guide.
4. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, covered, until doubled. This can take 1 1/2 hours.

5. Punch down the dough, gently then flatten it to an even disk and leave it, covered, for about 20 minutes to relax.

6. Finally, shape the dough into a loaf shape, the length of your loaf pan, and let it rise, again covered until it fills the pan. This can take another hour.

7. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for about 30 minutes or until a rich golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
8. Cool on a rack and store carefully to prevent it drying out. Enjoy!


  1. Hello Tal.
    Thank you again for an old "innovative" bread.
    I know that the Indians (not the red skins) use chickpea flower for several kinds of their bread.
    The Iranians (at least the Jewish ones) use the flower in their GONDI soup for the meatballs.
    I suppose Israeli Arabs also find it useful but I am not familiar with those kind of dishes except Hummus, but this is another Opera.
    Also Italians or Basks or Corsicans use this flower to make some kind of pancake called Sokka.
    Anyway European or western people are not very familiar with this kind of flower and therefor it can be found only in natural food stores or Indian stores, like in Ramla.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I always appreciate them. This recipe is different than the others you mention because it uses mashed chickpeas instead of the regular chickpea flour. It is super healthy and makes a great sandwich bread. Haver a great day.

  3. I was wondering whether anyone had tried making bread using whole wheat flour and chickpeas, so I googled and found your blog! Very interesting postings, I will want to try so many of your recipes. Thank you.

    I've discovered an easy way to cook chickpeas. First I soak them for a few hours until rehydrated (bite & chew to test.) Drain, put into pan with fresh water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to rest until cool. If you want them even softer, repeat the boil-cover-cool sequence.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments. I am always looking for new and interesting ways to make bread and find myself using (or adapting) recipes from all over. Glad you liked the blog. Please keep checking it out and please share the recipes and address.

  4. It's me again. I've made this twice now -- fragrant and delicious both times, thank you! I will have to make it again because people smell it baking and ask for some, there's never enough left for me!

    Next time I may add some toasted cumin seeds at the end, while rolling up into a loaf shape. Will make a swirl inside the loaf. And/or spray the finished loaf with water and sprinkle cumin seeds overtop before the last rise.

  5. Of course chickpeas grow in a pod, just like other legumes!