The Work of the Empress Part II - Cakes of Light the Great Flour Debate
As I prepared to make the Cakes of Light one of the questions that was raised was what type of flour to use. Local flavor has often used Kamut but I had heard that Amaranth flour was actually recommended in some of the older text. After some research I realized that both could be found locally at the Wholefoods store here. As a scientist my journey became clear. Some alchemical experiments were in my future.
The Good Priest made the journey to the store with me most willingly. Getting an incredible cook to venture into a fine grocery store is NEVER hard. After some serious searching we found several packages of preground flour. For the record they also carry the grain in bulk and whole. Winnowing and grinding all day for 2 ounces of flour did not seem like a good idea. So I paid the steep prices for both and moved on.
Saturday morning I was motivated by the Hamster to get my ass out of bed and get to work. He was just not subtle. I found the online recipe again and decided to split the 1.5 cups of flour into 3 options. The first option was 100% Kamut, the second 50/50 and the third 100% Amaranth. I did check to make sure that I could split the tablespoons into thirds and found that 1 tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons. This was MOST helpful.
The recipe I used was found at hermetic.com under egc. I tried to post a link but as usually technology just does not work for me.
Suddenly my countertop was a mini lab and my inner geek was just doing cartwheels. I set up the experiments just as I would any other wet chem lab.
I chose to start with the dry flours and then make a small hole in the center for the wet ingredients. I started with the leavings and noted how they resembled blood I had collected for other alchemical purposes. Next I added the extra virgin olive oil and it seemed to just float on top of the flour and not combine readily. Next I added the honey ( I chose clover as it is MY favorite) and it went through the oil and sat directly on the flour. Finally I added 2 drops of Abramelin oil into the whole mix.
I preheated the oven to 300 degrees and decided to start with the 100% Kamut.
I grabbed the measuring spoon I was using and began to stir and fold the mixture together. The first thing that I noticed was that the Kamut was course. Not just in texture, but there was something very unrefined about it. The leavings stained only the flour that it originally touched and became impossible to fold in to the rest of the mixture without streaking. While interesting, it was not the result I was hoping for. After getting it to a doughy consistency I kneaded it with my hands. Again it was rough and course.
I grabbed some wax paper and my trusty rolling pin. I broke off a piece and attempted to roll it out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. What a mess. I ended up flouring the wax paper and putting oil on the rolling pin, otherwise this was an impossible task. The dough would not roll out as thin as I would have liked but it eventually got to flat. I found a large oil lid and used to it cut out the cakes. I then pressed my unicursal hexagram from my Thelemic Rosary into the cakes. Trying to move the 5 cakes proved impossible. I finally got them off and placed on the baking stone, but not very gracefully. I baked them for 5 minutes, but because of their size needed to bake them for about 5 more minutes. The came out OK, but still a bit underdone.
Next I repeated the process with 50/50 mixture. The two flours did not play well together. It took a great deal of effort to get them to mix and even then it was an uncomfortable truce. The Kamut again grabbed up the color from the leavings and streaked the dough but not as badly as the 100% mix. This time I started with oiling and flouring and the process went smoother. I also cut the cakes on the wax paper and then moved them to the baking stone BEFORE making the impressions. I was much more pleased with the results. Again I baked them for 7 minutes but ended up putting them back in for 3 more and they still were a bit undercooked.
The last mixture was just Amaranth. I was most pleased to see that as I started to combine everything the whole mixture turned this glorious beige with just a pink tint. It really is beautiful. The most interesting bit was that as I started to stir and combine, I got a glorious smell of Frankincense. To me this was a direct message from my HGA that I was on the right track. This is a temple incense but more importantly it is a SOLAR association. Since this is a solar rite, I knew I was on the right track. The dough just seemed to humm with life. It was sensory intoxication at it's finest. It also cut and pressed easily. I baked them for 7 minutes and again for another 3. They were closer to properly cooked but I will still have to adjust the time.
As if summoned by the smell of the Cakes, the Good Priest stumbled out of bed just as the last batch was cooling. We ran a taste test and determined that the Amaranth was our favorite. I was most pleased that the Amaranth tasted good because it was so functional on so many levels.
It was a lovely morning of Cakes and coffee for breakfast.
So while I will have to tweak the baking time due to the much larger size of the Cakes, I am definitely sold on the Amaranth. Yes, it is about twice the price as the Kamut but really well worth it!