Ancient Greek bread was worshipped almost like a holy grail! Well, literally, in ancient Greece, there were competitions and prizes, poems and stories about bakers who would make best, tastiest and richest bread. It was considered as a work of art, so naturally, it was offered to their Olympian Gods on special holidays.
Two stand foremost among humans:From
Goddess Demeter—call her Earth if you like—
who nourishes mortals with solid food;
the other one came later, Semele’s son,(Dionysus)
who discovered the liquor of the grape,
and brought it to mortals, giving
the poor fellows surcease of sorrow…
The bread was a cake for them
On special holidays, (Artos) Ἄρτος (Ancient Greek word for cake-bread) was made with only the best ingredients and it would end up more like a cake due to “expensive” ingredient addition. Eggs were highly appreciated and if they were added to the dough, it had to be lifted to a divine level. Furthermore, they would add nuts, honey and dried fruits, but the main ingredient was alway the mighty Zea!
This special Ἄρτος, or cake, gave me so much inspiration. If we opt to use less Zea and much more Keto friendly ingredients, we might end up with an Ancient Greek Low-Carb bread creation!
Ancient Greeks and machines
In the times of antiquity, Ancient Greeks invented the Olynthus mill, two square millstones stacked on top of each other and turned with a lever. This was the ultimate machine for making flour out of anything. And yes, they also made flaxseed flour and almond flour using the same mechanism. They just loved inventing machines and technology. In fact, they even had robots serving wine diluted in perfect ratio with water at their special events.
Were ancient Greeks Ketonians?
Ha, that’s a good question, but no! Well, maybe the athletes and soldiers, especially Spartans 😉 It’s a known fact that Olympian athletes in ancient Greece ate predominantly meat, eggs and fish for their enormous strength!
On the other side, there’s a myth about civilised Athenians (most probably due to jealousy) who proclaimed that only villagers and barbarians eat butter. However, there is evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans used butter widely. The word butter originates from the Greek word “bou-tyron” just a type of cow’s cheese. But Greeks always used predominantly goat or sheep dairy, so that’s what I’ll be using here!!!
Let’s go back to Zea for a moment (even though it’s not Keto)
In various classical Greek sources, you can find references to a specific plant called Zea or Zeia which was not ever the same as wheat! For Homer, Zea was a synonym for fertility! In fact, the epithet “zeidoros“, literally means “Zea-gifting”, is appearing in Iliad to describe fertile land. More reference we can find in Herodotus Histories! He recorded that exotic and flavour-loving Egyptians preferred Zea over wheat or barley. Even in newer history, based on medieval texts, Zea gave the name to the Piraeus harbour which is still called Marina Zeas!
As Apollonas already wrote, Zea, or as you might know it, Emmer, has superior nutrient content and it doesn’t contain that typical gluten known in wheat. Furthermore, it is extremely rich in minerals and fibre.
Now, I am not saying you will go back to eating carbs and cereals, but on special occasions, if you want to prepare a festive bread in honour of the Ancients, 100 or 150g of Triticum dicocum (the scientific name for Zea) will not be such a sin. In fact, if you use just 2 tablespoons of it, it can replace psyllium in real Keto baked goodies without jeopardising your Ketosis!
Step into my time machine capsule and let’s make Ancient Greek bread with reduced carbs
Ancient Greek bread (Low-Carb version)Cuisine: Keto Mediterranean, Ancient GreekDifficulty: Medium
4 medium free-ranged eggs
50g (1,8 oz) goat butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons vinegar of your choice
12 tablespoons ground sesame seeds
100-150g (3,5-5,2 oz) Emmer flour (Zea) triticum dicocum
200 (1 cup) ml water
12 heaped tsp ground almonds (add more if you want thicker dough)
12 heaped tsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 tsp mahleb powder (optional but crutial)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- On low temperature, melt the butter and mix it with olive oil.
- Beat the eggs (using an electric mixer or your muscle power) and slowly add the butter and olive oil and mix with the eggs.
- Add baking soda, sea salt and vinegar. Keep mixing.
- Now add ground sesame seeds and continuously mix.
- It’s time for a Keto sin! Add your Emmer or Zea and trust to ancient Greeks that nothing bad will happen to you! Slowly add water, bit by bit.
- Add ground flaxseed and ground almonds, spoon by spoon. Let your mixer do the trick because, by now, you would need Hercules to mix this by hand.
- Add the aromatic mahlepi powder and get ready to travel through the time.
- Line a clay pot (if you don’t have it, a ceramic one will work) with some baking paper and place your dough in it. Decorate the bread with pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
- Bake for an hour at 160ºC (320ºF)
- Before cutting it, let it cool down completely.
- This amount makes 25 nice pieces. You can cut it even thinner and enjoy it even if youy are on Keto and your carbs need to be extremely low!
- If younwant to calculate your own macros, have in mind that online calculators don’t offer any Emmer or Zea nutrition data, the closest thing would be Spelt but still the nutrients are not the same.