How to Use Kamut, an Ancient Whole Grain

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This ancient grain has more protein than conventional wheat and is reportedly easier to digest. Here's the inside story on kamut, from mother-daughter team Liz Edmunds and Lizi Heaps.

Uncooked Kamut Grain on a Wood SpoonMichelle Lee Photography/Getty Images, Courtesy Food Nanny

“I was noticing in my generation that ‘bread’ is such a bad word,” says food blogger Lizi Heaps. She set out on a mission to make wholesome healthy bread, with inspiration from her mother and co-blogger Liz Edmunds and the power of an ancient grain: Kamut.

What Is Kamut?

Kamut (also known as khorasan wheat) is a whole grain that has origins dating back thousands of years to ancient Egypt. There are many blends of khorasan wheat available on the market, but the trademarked Kamut brand has a guarantee that it’s organically grown and never genetically modified.

Liz and Lizi, better known to their 152,000 Instagram followers as The Food Nanny, started baking with Kamut almost five years ago and noticed the benefits immediately.

“It has more protein, more taste, more texture,” says Lizi. “The more I was making our pizzas, the breads, the cookies, everything. I was like, ‘How does this upgrade everything that I do?'”

Beyond tasty improvements from the hearty nutty flavor of Kamut, this wheat also has elevated levels of iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber when compared to conventional wheat.

Is Kamut Gluten Free?

No, Kamut is not gluten free. It isn’t appropriate for people that have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, gluten allergies or gluten intolerance. However, there have been some initial studies that show people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity are able to consume Kamut even though they are sensitive to wheat gluten.

There is also anecdotal evidence that Kamut is easier on the digestive system than processed commercial wheat flours. People with gluten sensitivities report being able to eat foods made with Kamut flour without uncomfortable side effects they experience when eating conventional wheat flour. This may be because Kamut has not been crossbred with any other wheat in order to alter it for better yields for farmers.

How to Pronounce Kamut

Kamut means wheat in an ancient Egyptian language that is no longer in use today.

To explain how to pronounce “Kamut,” Lizi references the cows she has living on her homestead. It’s pronounced “kah-MOOT,” so if you make sure you’re getting the “moo” sound in there, you’re on the right track!

How to Cook with Kamut

There are two ways to cook with Kamut: as whole berries or as flour.

Kamut berries can be cooked in recipes in place of wheat berries for healthy, filling side dishes or dinners. When substituting Kamut berries for other whole grains, cooking times may need to be adjusted to achieve the right texture. Just be sure to sample as the berries cook and you’ll have delicious results! Experiment with our grain salad recipes.

Kamut can also be ground into flour, either using the whole berry to make whole grain flour or stripping the berry of its bran and grinding the remainder for a white Kamut flour.

“It’s really the most superior white flour,” says Liz, who first tried Kamut in Europe. “It’s high in fiber, it causes less bloating and abdominal pain, and it has more protein than other flour.”

This white Kamut flour is what many of the Food Nanny recipes use. Because of increased protein levels and slightly different gluten structure, cooking with Kamut flour is similar to wheat flour but not exactly the same.

“The real difference is just that you need less,” says Lizi. You can also cook with recipes created specifically for Kamut, and that’s where the Food Nanny team has us covered with their cookbook, For the Love of Kamut. The recipes in the book are created to use 100-percent Kamut flour instead of any other flour.

Kamut Recipe from Liz and Lizi

This Kamut pizza crust is one of their most versatile recipes. It can be topped with anything, like this Food Nanny arugula and cherry tomato combo. Don’t forget the sweet side of the pantry, though, because this crust makes an easy dessert, too. Lizi’s followers loved the suggestion to use Nutella as a sauce and sliced fresh strawberries as the topping!

White Kamut Pizza Recipe

Plan ahead! You’ll want to preheat the oven to 500° F an hour before baking. If using a pizza stone, put it in the oven at that time.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • ½ cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-3/4 cups white Kamut flour
  • 2 teaspoons French gray coarse salt
  • Marinara sauce, cheese and your other favorite toppings

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the yeast

In a large bowl, combine sugar, milk and water. Sprinkle dry yeast onto the mixture and stir gently. Cover and rest for 5 minutes or until foamy to test your yeast.

Step 2: Knead the dough

With a wooden spoon or dough hook attachment for your stand mixer, mix in Kamut flour, olive oil and salt.

Once the mixture comes together, move the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. If the dough is still too sticky, add a dusting of Kamut flour and continue to knead. (Here are tips for how to knead dough the right way.)

Use 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil to coat the bowl the dough was mixed in, put the dough back in and allow it to rise, covered, in a warm place for 2 hours.

Step 3: Let it rest

Punch the dough down, divide it into 3 balls and let them rest for 15 minutes. Push each dough ball into desired thickness and shape by hand.

If using a stone or pizza oven, preheat it for about 1 hour prior to baking.

Step 4: Top and bake

Place dough on a pizza peel with a little flour underneath. Or place on a very lightly oiled baking sheet or pizza pan.

Use your favorite toppings to quickly dress the pizza so it doesn’t have a chance to stick to the peel or baking sheet.

Lizi’s tip: For a crispier pizza, remember to disperse ingredients evenly and use a light hand. Too much cheese or sauce makes for a soggy pizza.

Slide the dressed pizza onto the hot pizza stone or into the oven on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes depending on the thickness of the crust. Remove from oven and allow to cool briefly. Transfer to a cutting board to slice and serve hot!

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Mandy Naglich
Mandy is a food and beverage writer with bylines at WNYC, Munchies, Mic and October. She's a Certified Cicerone and award-winning homebrewer living, writing and cooking in New York City.