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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Whole Spelt Bread

You've probably heard of Spelt Bread by now and other bakery products containing Spelt flour. So what is spelt? And how does it differ to Wheat flour?

Don't be fooled by thinking that spelt's new commercial trend is it's first debut. Spelt has been around thousands of years before Christ and grown for hundreds of years in Europe. This is because it has always been cultivated to feed animals with it's grains. It's recent popularity is due to the, more and more common discoveries of its nutritional benefit. The "ancient grain", not only has a nuttier and sweeter flavor then wheat, but it contains a higher level of protein. Not that that higher protein count was a winning fact, it is also a protein which is easier to digest then the one found in wheat grains. This makes it a great choice for individuals who have an intolerance to wheat. Spelt DOES contain gluten, just like wheat, which makes it NOT SUITABLE for wheat free diets. 

Triticum aestivum var spelta, as it's formally known, is being used nowadays, to make many products. These ranging from beers and gin, to pasta and all products where wheat flour is already used. As I was doing a routine stop at my favoutire bulk food store, I thought of taking the plunge and purchasing some Spelt flour and trying out a bread recipe which I had my eyes on for a while. Following is the recipe and the end result of my first time using spelt in my baking.  


- 1 Tablespoon Active dry yeast 
- 2 Cups Warm water
- 3 Tablespoons Honey
- 3 Tablespoons Butter (melted)
- 2 Teaspoons Sea salt 
- 6 Cups Spelt flour

- In a 1 Liter glass measuring cup, measure out your warm water. Water temperature should be between 40 and 43 degrees Celsius. Add to the water the yeast and the honey, stir well to dissolve the yeast and honey. Let stand mixture for about 10 minutes or until foam starts to form on the top. During that time, measure out the flour and place in in a large bowl, while creating a well in the center of the flour. When the flour bowl is ready, add the melted butter and the sea salt to the yeast mixture. Pour immediately inside the flour well and stir in the center of the bowl with a wooden spatula, gathering flour from the sides as your are stirring. When all flour has been gathered more-or-less with the liquids, start kneading the ingredients with your hands. 
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes, being careful not to overknead, and forming it unto a smooth ball of dough. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl (Olive oil is best). Cover and let rise in a warm and draft-free spot for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. During that time, grease 2 8 1/2" by 4 1/2" loaf pans. 

- When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch the dough down and divide in two portions. For the doughs into a smooth loaf and place one in each loaf pan. 

- Cover once more and let rise another hour of until it has reached the top of the pan. Preheat the oven at 350F (175C).

- Uncover the loaves and place on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the tops are of a slight brown color and crusty. At this point, TURN THE OVEN OFF, remove the loaves from the pans and place then directly onto the baking tray. Return them to the oven to crisp up for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack. 

If you are feeling adventurous, you can also omit the loaf pans and create some artisan spelt breads, as shown in this post.  

Spelt flour is a great alternative to use in place of regular wheat flour, for almost any recipe. It's nuttier flavor will create an aroma in the air which you will definitely become addicted to. Try it out today!

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!

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