Hilary Kass of Ancient Grains leads visitors to her tiny workspace tucked under the Burger Stand in Lawrence. There is not much that says this is her corner of the baking world, save for a gold framed 8-by-10 photo of an immigrant farmer kneeling in a field of teff that he is growing in Caldwell, Idaho.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
Teff is the staple grain of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The size of a poppy seed, teff is the smallest grain in the world.
And it is gluten-free.
Kass uses the Teff Co.’s flour (teffco.com) — and other ancient grains, including amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and sorghum — to make biscotti, flatbreads, pie crusts and cookie dough. “There’s just such a growing interest in these grains for a variety of reasons,” says Kass, whose company motto is “Ancient Grains for Modern Humans.”
While working as a nutrition educator at Community Mercantile in Lawrence, Kass encountered a steady stream of customers with food sensitivities. There are plenty of grains that can stand in for wheat, but Kass was unfamiliar with many of them. Curious, she began experimenting. Three years ago she began selling handmade baked goods that contain no gluten, dairy or egg. To eliminate dairy, Kass uses organic extra-virgin coconut oil. She grinds flax seeds to a powder then adds water to create an egg substitute.
Still, flavor is important. “I want my products to be interesting to all kinds of people,” she says.
Even wheat eaters.
Find Kass’ blog at ancientgrainsbakery.com or through Facebook. Look for her products at Whole Foods, some Kansas City Hy-Vee stores, Crossroads Coffeehouse and the Merc in Lawrence.