Baking with the Ancient Grain Zea Class a Hit in NJ

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Pie made with Zea flour. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics

CRANFORD, NJ – The cooking class “Baking with the Ancient Grain Zea” with Chef Sim Cass, founding baker of New York City’s acclaimed Balthazar Bakery, took place on May 15 at the Little Fox Kitchen in Cranford and was a hit with the students who attended.

Chef Cass demonstrated his master craft of artisanal bread and pastry-making using hard-Zea and soft-Zea flour from Greece provided exclusively by Demetra Organics.

He covered sourdough bread, sourdough starter and maintenance, bagels, scones, pies and more, all made with Demetra Organics’ Zea flour from Greece. The opportunity to bake with this master chef and the versatile ancient grain Zea was appreciated by the attendees. Many shared their experience with posts on social media, noting how much fun they had and that they look forward to buying the flour to continue baking with it at home.

Chef Cass is the Dean of the Professional Bread Baking Program at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York. As noted on the ICE website, “through his work at the world-renowned Balthazar Bakery, he quickly became one of the industry's most well-respected bread experts, sparking our nation's now widespread passion for hand-crafted, naturally fermented loaves.”

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Scones made with Zea flour. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics

Thousands of years ago in Greece, a durable and resistant grain was cultivated for its unique nutritional qualities and ability to withstand the elements, weather, and diseases. Today’s common wheat was not consumed in any form by the ancient Greeks. Instead, Zea wheat was the main staple for every level of this ancient society. They traded it at local markets, treasured it as a cultural secret and revered it as an ancient symbol of a bountiful harvest, according to Pedanius Dioscorides (40-90 AD), a Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist.

Zea, pronounced as /?zea/, ancient grain wheat named by the ancient Greeks ζείδωρος (/?zi?oros/) meaning Life-Giving. It is rich in dietary fiber, B-vitamins and minerals, attributed to Greece’s remarkably fertile environment, a harmonic union of everlasting sun and flowing water in the bountiful soil. With just traces of gluten it is far superior to today’s common wheat products.

Demetra Organics was founded to promote a healthy, modern lifestyle supported by unique agricultural food products of Greece. The Zea wheat improved the health and well-being of the Greeks for thousands of years. Demetra Organics is gathering a growing community of local farmers in the most fertile regions 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.

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Scones made with Zea flour. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics

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Bagels made with Zea flour. Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Organics