Baking with Zea Flour, Our Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving

Demetra Organics products available in the U.S. include hard and soft flour and handmade pita bread. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics

Many people are looking to eat healthier and substituting some of the processed foods in our diet can be a step in the right direction. Processed foods like those made with the average white flour often lack important nutrients and fiber. Demetra Organics was born out of a desire to promote a healthy, modern lifestyle supported by this unique, highly nutritional staple of Greek agriculture, the ancient Zea wheat. This traditional grain improved the health and well-being of the Greeks for thousands of years. They traded it at local markets, treasured it as a cultural secret and revered it as an ancient symbol of a bountiful harvest.

Founded in 2016, Demetra Organics is gathering a growing community of local farmers in the fertile Delphi region of Greece to resurrect the production of these nourishing grains for today’s consumer market. By supporting small farmers, Demetra Organics is dedicated to stimulating the local economy and providing a sustainable way of life for those who have been hit the hardest by the Greek economic crisis. Homemade bread and grain products are the foundation of Greek culture through the centuries. Fittingly, Demetra Organics is named after Demeter, the Ancient Greek goddess of the harvest.

Demetra Organics offers the U.S. market wholesale orders of their exclusive Zea Life-Giving products, namely, hard-Zea flour, perfect for bread making, soft-Zea flour, perfect for pastries, as well as Zea pita-bread handmade in Greece. Each unique Zea product is rich in dietary fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals, attributed to Greece’s remarkable microclimate. Zea wheat has just traces of gluten making it far superior to common wheat products for those with gluten sensitivity.

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The following recipes use Zea flour, and it can also be used as a substitute for regular flour in any recipe.

Zea Bread

  • 5-6 cups zea flour
  • 2 cups warm water (about 100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Greek sea salt
  • Greek extra virgin olive oil
Bread made with Zea flour. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the yeast, warm water, 2 cups of the flour, and the honey, and set aside for about 5 minutes until the mixture appears foamy. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Using the dough hook attachment of the mixer, knead until the dough forms and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl, about 7 minutes, adding additional flour, if needed.

Lightly grease an ovenproof bowl with a little olive oil. Place the dough in the greased bowl, then turn over the dough to coat it lightly. Cover the bowl and the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in a warm place to rise. The switched off oven is an excellent spot for proofing the dough, just heat the oven to about 200 degrees and then switch it off, place the covered bowl with the dough inside and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down to deflate it and cut it in half. Form two loaves, round or longer ovals, as you prefer, and place them on a baking sheet to rest for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes. Slash the tops of the loaves diagonally with a sharp knife and place on the middle rack of the oven to bake for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees until the bread is golden brown and produces a hollow sound when you knock on it.

Once the bread cools completely it can be kept at room temperature for a few days. To store the bread longer, wrap tightly and keep in the freezer, just heat the bread in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes to thaw out and serve.

Summer Cherry Tart

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups soft Zea flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons Zea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherries, stems removed, pitted, and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Scones made with Zea flour. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics

To make the crust, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, beat the yogurt, cold water, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the dough begins to hold together. Form the dough into a ball and shape into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll out. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle to about 1/8 inch thickness. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet and place in refrigerator to keep cool while preparing the filling.

For the filling, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, grated lemon peel, cinnamon, and sugar. Add the fruit and toss to coat completely. Place the fruit in the center of the rolled out dough, leaving about 2 inches all around, fold the dough edge up onto the fruit, pleating and pressing together to hold the fruit in place to create a free-form tart. The fruit will peak out in the center. Sprinkle the top with a teaspoon of sugar and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the filling is bubbling in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Greek Yogurt and Apple Cake

  • 2 cups soft Zea flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Greek honey
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 medium apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
Apple pie made with Zea flour.

Grease and flour a nine by two inch deep baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the ground nuts and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey and yogurt and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, and beat until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally to make sure the flour and eggs are all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Arrange apple slices on top of cake. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes to an hour depending on the color of the pan and the strength of your oven, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester, toothpick, or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan. Heat the 2 tablespoons of apricot jam and brush the top of cake to glaze. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. Serve with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.